By Mudasir Majeed Peer
Most of the times, unemployment has been a reason for the death of many people. It is not any gun which can fire rounds of bullets in a jiffy, neither; it is any knife which can rip up a human belly. It is not even a noose which can block a wind pipe, carrying oxygen to a body. But it certainly does share a very close bond with all these means of death.
Unemployment is a vicious cause which blanks out the cerebral region of a person and just leaves him or her in an optional sphere of life. Either a person is forced to join the table of lunatics or to embrace the death. Also, it deprives him/her of the deserved space in a society. Majority of people, who ultimately fail to recognize the path which can fetch them their livelihood, prefer death. They do such, only to avoid the disdain from the people with whom they have blood ties.
Few weeks ago, when I was leaving mosque after offering evening prayers, I met a friend. After a normal chat he turned to the issue of unemployment. He blurted out, “Hey! You know a very close friend of mine, who would teach together with me at a private school a year ago, has died”. On further inquest he revealed the story of how his friend struggled for a pittance to continue his education and then finally died. I became so curious about the actual grounds of his friends death after hearing about him. Next morning I set off for the place to which the deceased boy belonged.
Gugloosa, a village, 13-Kilometers ahead of Kupwara town, was my point of purpose. It is the place where people face poverty in well amount but don’t make it an excuse to mar the education of their children. Poverty ridden village to which this deceased boy, who struggled to live but couldn’t make it till end, belonged.
Bilal Ahmad Parray, 24, died a mysterious death at a hotel in Orissa, belonged to Gugloosa village. He had lost his father in early years of his teenage. He had no one who could bear his study expenses after his father’s demise. In fact he had his family who were in grief of the loss. He has grief ridden mother, four unmarried sisters and an elder brother. His brother works at a stone quarry, from dawn to dusk, just to earn scanty wages. Gugloosa is the stronghold of National Conference Member of Legislative Assembly from Kupwara, Mir Saifullah, as he too belongs to this village. He resides a few miles away from the Bilal’s house.
As I alit from bus, I saw hordes of men roving on streets of this village. I could see a complete state of morass. As I ambled along the roadside, with a note-book, a pen in hand and a backpack slung over shoulders, I saw some bystanders probing me from some distance away. They were busy in conversations, talking about Bilal’s death. Everyone had a story to tell about his death. I walked a few more steps past them; I could see a crowd following me. Staring at me, they precisely got me well. A boy amongst them said, “He is some kind of media person. So he must have come to report this incident.”
I stopped there. Within just seconds I was chained around by some boys, asking me “Do you belong to any newspaper?” After my positive reply, they start revealing different stories about Bilal. I was flummoxed with a number of voices, at once, giving different versions. I was not able to listen even to the one. I requested them to just take me to any of the family members of Bilal. Following this, everyone struck hands against his mouth with the index finger staying vertically across in the middle of lips, beckoning me not to visit their house. I demanded a reason for not allowing me to meet them. They said that his family is yet oblivious about his passing away, except his brother Bashir, who along with some more relatives had gone to fetch his corpse from Orissa.
Confused at the varied statements of locals, I better thought to contact some close associate of Bilal. Finding a person of meaning, in this crowd, was just untying the Gordian knot. An old man took me a few steps away from the crowd and told me about a person. Bilal’s friend and his confidant since childhood but he didn’t join the crowd. I made an earnest request to this old man to introduce me to him.
A meekly constructed three room house, with an extension in front (Verandah) and a rag spread over it. A bearded boy leaning against wall, with cheeks cupped in hands, was sitting on Verandah. As I came close to him, I found him in a pensive mood. I greeted him but he didn’t react. I was so disappointed. I thought of return but the man who took me to this house told me to go sit inside. I went in the house and waited alone in a room. After a few minutes they too joined me. I was so confused about what to do and what to ask.
I maintained silence for around ten minutes. But the ten minutes couldn’t silence my eyes, as I was unable to resist the hysterical tears which splashed down from the eyes of Ajaz, Bilal’s friend. I could very well feel how a person feels after meeting a tragedy. Grief, despair, dejection, uneasiness, madness, sadness, tears, cries and what not, all this takes control over a person after he/she meets any tragic upset and rips his/her feelings apart. Same was the state of Aijaz. When I started conversation with him, his every word was coming out with a deep weepy shrill.
Whatever the details Aijaz revealed about his friend spoke the volumes about his friendly affair with Bilal. An affair which was hardly describing Aijaz as a person not related to Bilal by blood, a truly close-knit bond. He revealed all stories about his friend. He shared a story about the circumstances which compelled Bilal to join army and also the conversations which they had on phone during his training. He also unfolded some points which might have forced him to kill himself.
Bilal was an arts graduate. He would have deserved a very good place among the meritorious lot, as his academic achievements speak. He had graduated with 60 per cent marks. During graduation he was working as a teacher at a private school. The wages, thus earned, would exhaust in his study expenses and some in supporting the daily family expenses. After this degree he planned to go for masters in economics. He took admission in post-graduation in economics through Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). Due to the mounting financial strains at home, he was turning distressful. He was in dire need of job but there was no job at the just finishing of graduation.
In Kashmir, there has been following a bizarre trend of job selection. There is no specificity in choosing a job. A person here hardly gets the job of his/her choice. Unemployment has set its roots deep. This makes people possessing elite degrees to choose rather struggle for second rate jobs. Bilal was a simple graduate but he had a big life ahead. He was in just 20s many decades were to come forth but fate didn’t allow him to reach even to his 30s. He had to break away from his family, friends and everyone and the reason became unemployment.
Bilal got a job in army last year. Not willing for the job, but the pathetic financial circumstances at home made him to go for it. He went to Orissa for training. At the just beginning of training he felt somewhat uneasy and annoyed as the course was more of hectic schedule and the job against his will—a job above and beyond the call of duty. He used to convey on phone every detail to his friend Ajaz. The daily happenings, appreciation from higher officials, the weather of Orissa and everything he used to share with his friend. He had now adapted an army man in him. He had conveyed to his friend Ajaz about his now willingness and satisfaction for job.
One day during routine training parade on ground, Bilal had a fracture in leg. The stringent laws of army don’t approve a person if he is physically unfit. So did happen to Bilal. He was told to return his home for rest and also to take some treatment. He came back after three months of training, stayed at home and also took some treatment.
After one month at home, Bilal went back to Orissa to resume his duties. He was told there to get his medical fitness report before joining. He went for medical examination. Before leaving to doctor he called his friend and told him if he will be medically disqualified and thus discharged from service then it would be last call from him. But Ajaz had not minded it and had thought it as a joke. Very much unsure about the successful medical reports, desponded Bilal had gone to doctor. What he didn’t wish to hear he had to hear. He was declared medically unfit and his every dream was vanished.
At the time of joining army, Bilal was patted by elders in Village and was told to return as a big army officer. He was in the line of fire now. Ajaz said, “He was fearful of societal criticism.”
After a state of shape up or ship out, he was shattered. After the unfit medical reports, he was boarded out from the services. On the same day he left the army encampment and stayed in a hotel. A Central Investigation Department (CID) official disclosed that he was in a hotel for two consecutive days. “As the hotel management grew suspicious about his continuous stay inside the room they knocked the door. After no response from him, the hotel employees entered the room by breaking its window and there they found Bilal dead,” he said.
There have not been actual reports about the cause of his death, but the last call to his friend has much to say. He was buried in Orissa as his family reached five days after his death and till that the body was decomposed, not in a state to carry to his native place.
Whatever the causes will emerge after the investigation, we may conclude that there was a connection of his board out from service on medical grounds related to his death.
Unemployment has become a lethal weapon now. People now die due to it. If precious human lives start wasting like this then the day is not far when this land will become a desert. The responsibilities do lie to people also who are at the helm of affairs. They should come down from the superiority ego and play a proactive role in counselling and educating people so that there will be a check on it. Holding a big seat doesn’t hold anyone at high. What keeps one higher is the generosity towards those who fail to recognize any path. They should hold them by hand and make them understand.
Mudasir Majeed Peer is staff writer with The Kashmir Walla.