Two and half hours before the fateful incident that left everyone shocked on October 01, 2020, I talked to Javid Ahmad for a few minutes, as he was preparing to attend the editorial meeting at Rising Kashmir Office in Srinagar. I still remember my last words to him, “Come here along with the new bike that you bought after your marriage and I would be waiting for you at Srinagar along with Mansoor Peer. Once you reach Sopore, do call me after that”. Javid replied politely "Irfan! I don’t have a driving license, there are traffic police cops everywhere deputed along Srinagar-Baramulla highway and they will seize my new bike, so I will leave it in Sopore, then I will board a local cab to Office" he replied and dropped the call.
It was around 12 noon, I also left my hometown Pattan along with my colleague on a motorcycle to attend an editorial meeting at the Rising Kashmir office in Srinagar which was scheduled at 3:00 pm on the same day. On the way to Srinagar, we stopped at Pattan and visited a bike showroom to purchase a new bike for Mansoor. Then after a brief chat with the manager, we left the showroom. Both of us were cracking jokes and discussing things about office work. While reaching Bemina crossing, my phone started ringing but I could not attend it as I was driving a motorcycle. It continued for a few minutes and in the meantime, I parked the bike near Police Station Batamaloo. In the mean time my colleague who was accompanying me got a call from a local journalist who informed him about the sad news of Javid Ahmad. It left us shocked and shattered. It was unbelievable and shocking, to say the least. After that, I called up one of my close friends, working at Pattan Trauma Hospital, where Javid was declared brought dead by the doctors. He also confirmed the news sending shivers through my spine. My colleague informed the Managing Editor about the sad news. He put in the official whatsup group that today's meeting has been cancelled.
From Srinagar to Pattan hospital, I don’t know how we reached there. Both of us were crying as he was a good friend and roommate. We did not find his dead body there. Around 4 pm we reached his town Watergam Rafiabad, where hundreds were waiting for his Nimaz-e-Jinazah. Among cries and sobs, around 5:30 pm, he was buried in the local graveyard. May Allah grant him the highest place in Jannah and patience to the bereaved family. (Ameen).
Javid was the senior-most reporter in Rising Kashmir and was covering Defence and Security beat for the past several years in the newspaper. He also had an interest in feature and human interest stories. After his death we went to his house many times in Watergam Rafiabad. It seems the family is devastated and no one is living there. His parents are still in shock after losing their son at a young age. He was light in our eyes, they used to tell us. Whenever we pay a visit to his home, only memories are being shared.. It seems his family is yet to come out of deep trauma and they are still in a never-ending wait for their beloved to return. After completing my Masters in Mass Communication, in 2017, I joined Rising Kashmir, as a trainee reporter. At that time I was not good at writing. After some days, we had a meeting with Rising Kashmir's founding editor, Syed Shujaat Bukhari. During the meeting, Shujaat Sahab introduced me to everyone and asked Javid and Mansoor to help me in contact building and story ideas.
Javid was always helpful to everyone in the newsroom and would often edit my copies. He would always encourage young reporters in the office to write good stories. It was on February 15, 2018, I along with Javid Ahmad were assigned a story by Shujaat Sir related to civilian killings in the Ganawpora area of Shopian and were asked to investigate the incident from all angles. During those days, I used to travel home from Srinagar, and that day, I was also at my house and I got a call from Javid asking me to immediately report to the Office. “Come to the office immediately, Shujaat Sir has asked us to cover a story in Shopian village. Although it is difficult for you, I will help and guide you in writing such stories,” Javid told me that day. In the next 45 minutes, I reached the office where we boarded our office vehicle and immediately left for Shopian. On the way to Shopian, Javid briefed me on how to ask questions and how to analyze such situations. “Track everything including expressions, body language, and inner and the outer atmosphere of the house and localities. It should get depicted in our stories," he told me on way to Shopian. On the way, we also picked up one of our district reporters, Javid Sofi, to assist the team in Shopian.
After we finished our interviews with the families, it was around 05:00 pm when we left Shopian and reached back to the office at 6:45 pm. I asked Javid, can we file the story tomorrow, he replied, “if you delay, it will lose its news value and someone else will do it”. I finished my copy by 09:00 pm that day and he waited for me and then edited it. The next day, I got my first byline on the front page of the newspaper. After three days, the same story was translated to Urdu for weekly Kashmir Parcham, a magazine then edited by legendary journalist and poet late Sahil Maqbool. He also suffered a heart attack on March 19, 2018, while leaving the Rising Kashmir office. After the Shopian story, we became close friends. He would often visit my rented Srinagar accommodation and encourage me for in-depth reporting.
“In Palhallan village alone, you can find dozens of human interest stories but you have to keep track of happenings in your local area so that you will remain updated,” he once told me. In 2018, I got an opportunity to work in a reputed media organization from my native district Baramulla. That day both Javid and Mansoor were busy with their office work and I waited till they finished their assignments and discussed it with them Javid said: “You are like my brother. I wouldn't allow you to go because you wouldn’t grow there. Reporting from Srinagar headquarters provides you a chance to report stories from each part of Jammu and Kashmir.”
I was also inspired by Javid's work when he followed the Kathua rape and murder case. He followed the case for two months and did 24-25 stories on that single case, till the accused were arrested. He will be remembered for his journalistic work and courage. In the office, he was helpful to everyone; from interns to colleagues. Javid was always available. He would never deny anyone any help. I have no words to express the pain of losing a good friend. He would often say that we are brothers, not friends. He would often make tasty meals for us. On August 4, 2019 evening, I got a call from Javid and he asked me to report to Srinagar as something unusual is going to happen. There was chaos and confusion everywhere. I stayed at my rented accommodation but got around twelve phone calls from Javid asking me to come to his room as the situation was not conducive. From the very next day, he insisted that I should stay with him permanently. We jointly spent around 41 days together at Rising Kashmir Office due to lockdown following the abrogation of Article 370 and those days would always remain our fond memories.
During that time, I got a chance to visit Gulmarg and after that, I wrote some stories on the prevailing situations in Kashmir. Javid always used to encourage me and asked me to work with consistency. At the government-run media center, the only place where the internet was available post-August 2019 for journalists, Javid was helpful to everyone. In 2020, he reported a few stories to Huff Post and would often encourage us to follow the trend. We often would crack jokes as he was going to get married in March 2020. He used to share everything with us. For his marriage shopping, we went to several places in Srinagar. Those were memorable days. Finally in April last year, he was married amid Covid-19 lockdown. He couldn’t invite us due to a strict lockdown. “I am sorry Irfan, we have canceled all the invitations except for family members. Our area is a Covid hotspot and there are restrictions everywhere. We have to get special permission from the Deputy Commissioner’s office for one vehicle,” Javid said three days before his marriage. After his marriage, he was happy with his new life. Javid's nickname was Raja and will be remembered for his kindness and politeness. We were living like a family. We had a good friendship for the past several years.
Javid, you are not with us but you are looking at us from somewhere. I always pray to almighty Allah (SWT) to grant you the highest place in Jannat-ul-Firdous and patience to the bereaved family.
(Author is RK Senior Reporter and can be reached at: email@example.com)