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Once celebrated, ‘German Khar’ finds difficult to ‘repair’ his way into modernity life
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Once celebrated, ‘German Khar’ finds difficult to ‘repair’ his way into modernity life

Post by on Wednesday, November 3, 2021

First slide
Srinagar, Nov 2: In the constricted lanes of Banduk Khar mohalla, Rainawari, lives Ghulam Mohiuddin Ahanger , aka “German Khar”, who is known for repairing foreign medical instruments.
Ahanger, 73, is a renowned blacksmith in old Srinagar, who inherited the trade from his forefathers.
He, along with his now dead brother, acquired the name “German Khars” for repairing German machines, which no one else could repair in the Valley those days.
However, with the passage of time, Ahanger’s financial situation and his work, both, started taking a hit. Less work and meager income forced Ahanger to stay confined to a small room in the compound of his house, where he can be seen toiling hard with the scattered medical instruments.
Dejected with his current situation, Ahanger, says modernisation has almost paralysed him. “Nowadays, every company provides reappearing services to their customers. Consequently, our necessity has declined,” he said.
Ahanger said he was once a popular blacksmith in the Valley, but now he has only a few takers.
“My brother and I were famous for our work. My brother has died and I am the only one left now. There were eight people associated with this work. However, due to scarcity of work, they changed their trade,” he said.
Ahanger can repair instruments like blood pressure machines, surgical equipments and other tools.
He also manufactures scissors, blades, disposable cannulas, clamps and clamping equipment.
“I can repair the foreign instruments. Besides, I can make a replica of them as well,” he said.
“My family does not want to continue this work, because my sons are educated. They preferred doing other forms of business. I am the last one in my family who is still associated with the work,” he said.
Ahanger had the skills to turn raw iron and wood into polished guns until the start of the 1990s.
“We were making guns before, but not anymore. I have a family history related to the gunsmith. In fact, my brother said that he used to make guns for Hari Singh when he was ruling the state,” he said.
Ahanger stopped making guns almost 30 years back.
“We don’t have a license for that. Only two factories here have the license for the job,” he said.
After leaving the gun business, he along with his brother started repairing the foreign instruments.
Ahanger opened his wooden box placed in his room and took out a decades-old letter given to him by a renowned doctor at the time of Hari Singh.
He also recalled that once a complex machine used for carrying out surgeries in one of the private hospitals developed a technical fault.
“I was called to the hospital for its repair and I repaired it in just a few minutes,” he bragged. 
“Even foreigners used to come looking for us with their equipment as everyone trusted our skills. Once a foreign tourist had some problem with his camera and I repaired it. He was very happy with my work,” he said.
Ahanger said that the art was dying as the craftsmen of downtown are not being taken seriously.
“We have lakhs of skilful artisans in the Valley. All they need is the attention of the government and steps to revive the dying art,” he said.

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