Wadan, Budgam: When Javed Ahmad Dar was a child, he dreamt of studying hard and earning respect in his village. He was still a child when he gave up the dream. He left studies after Class 9 and started to work as a tourist guide.
After working as a guide for two years, he gave it up, too. Now he bought a load-carrier, “because it yields more money,” recalled his brother Mohammad Ashraf.
Javed was the second-youngest sibling among four brothers, and the only one among them who went to school. Two of his brothers, like their father Ghulam Mohammad, work as manual labourers.
Seven months ago, Javed’s mother Haleema was diagnosed with a problem in her lower back and was scheduled to undergo a surgery on August 8. “But she didn’t go for surgery because Javed, her beloved, was shot by forces and was fighting for life at hospital,” said Ashraf.
Ashraf said that Javed quickly took upon himself more responsibility after the illness of her mother. “He would wake early, offer prayers, and go to buy bread from the market. Then he made tea and swept the house floor. After breakfast, he fed the cow, with whom he had developed a bond.”
Even at the hospital, Javed would tell his brother that he wanted to go home and feed the cow.
During this uprising, he never went out for protest, said his neighbour Ghulam Mohammad Mir. Arshid Altaf, his friend, said that “He spent most of the time at home, or helping neighbours in rice fields.”
Helping others, as Javed said to his friends, brought peace and happiness to him.
Just a day before he was shot in Narbal on August 5, he went to Barmaulla to the marriage party of his friend. “He spent the day as if it was his last day,” said the friend, Imran Khan.
After coming back, just before entering his home, he had helped his neighbour in lugging rice bags to the rice mill. He worked till late night and then came home. This, according to his family, was his last act of social work. The next day he would be struck by a bullet in his leg, and the leg would be amputated after five unsuccessful surgeries to save it.
Aijaz Ahmad Bhat, a teacher and his neighbour, described Javed as a hard worker. “Even though he was underprivileged, he would help others with money.” Aijaz said, calling it his “generosity.”
He also used to work part-time at a bakery.
Imran Khan, his friend and the owner of the bakery where he worked, said Javed was a quiet person. “He talked the least about the killings and the uprising. But after he was beaten by forces, I could see anger in him. But he never acted violent,” Imran said.
Imran said that if someone would abuse Javed, he would smile back at him.
On July 28, Javed Ahmad Dar went with his friend Arshid Ayub in a load carrier from Wadan, Budgam, to fetch wooden panels from Parimpora. They were stopped on the highway by forces and beaten. While they were beating him, he was smiling back at them, Arshid said: “It was his way of protest.”
“It hurt him to see me getting beaten up. He never cared for himself,” Arshid said. “But he let this feeling go away and went on with his life.”
On August 5, Javed told his brother and his mother that would not go for Friday prayers to Narbal because it “won’t yield anything”. At lunch, everyone was home, but Javed was not. No one knew why he changed his mind and went to Narbal for prayers.
When they saw him again, he was in hospital, suffering in pain.
Javed’s family said that he never asked them for anything; he knew his father was too poor. He had no hobbies or interests, and he seemed to be upset with life.
“It appeared that his heart was broken after he left studies,” said his friend Arshid.
Javed died after 38 days in the hospital.
Thousands of people came from different villages to participate in his funeral. For four hours his body lay upon a raised platform, Islamic messages written on his shroud. “We want freedom” reverberated at his funeral for hours. On the streets, women took out rallies and sang songs and chanted Azadi slogans. He was laid to rest at 3:30pm.
Javed Ahmad Dar was born on March 22, 1996. May he rest in peace.