By Fahad Shah
Cloudy sky. Dim light. Cool breezes coming from the river Jehlum on the banks of it, maintaining a pleasant weather. A white plastic banner announcing “Tribute to a legend Ghulam Nabi Sheikh” hanging on the iron railing, glowing by candle lights, placed under it on a concrete block. Green carpet of grass is wet due to whole day rains. When the white fluorescent lamppost lights, here at Jehlum View Park at Lal Chowk, glowed: friends, colleagues, journalists, activists, relatives and nears and dears of the late singer, Ghulam Nabi Sheikh started arriving.
As sun cooled down behind the clouds and called it a day, people around gathered near the banner and lit more and more candles. It was the Candle Light Vigil in memory of Ghulam Nabi Sheikh. The vigil was organised by the legend singer’s friends and family. His son, Arfat Sheikh, wearing a white kurta and spectales, working as senior consultant in Delhi, was present at the vigil, thanking people to come and briefing them about the legal irregularities of his father’s killing case.
While speaking at the vigil, Arfat thanked the gathering saying, “My mother called me earlier in the day from Delhi and said the vigil is impossible due to rain. But I am thankful to all of you for joining us in raising the demand of justice for my Dad’s killing.”
Sheikh gained extensive popularity in India, and was particularly famous in Kashmir, where he is still remembered as the “Mehdi Hassan of Kashmir”. He is believed to have lived a very simple life. He had set up a free music school where he taught music to people interested in singing.
Sheikh was famous as the Mehdi Hassan of Kashmir. He was killed on the night of July 13-14, 2003. It was found that he died in mysterious circumstances while on a train journey from Jammu to Delhi. On the night of his killing, the noted singer was travelling along with his daughter and a friend to Delhi from Jammu via Shalimar Express. His daughter woke up in the middle of the night and found his father was missing from his berth. She woke up his father’s friend who went around looking for Sheikh but couldn’t find him on the train.
The matter was reported to General Railway Police (GRP). The police told them that he might have missed a train at a short stop. On reaching Delhi his daughter contacted the family, back home, about Sheikh’s disappearance.
After a search Mukerian Police i
nformed them that a dead body, with a badly severed face, has been found on the rail tracks. The family was shocked when one of them went to the Mukerian Police station to claim the body and he was told that the body was already cremated a few hours earlier. A photograph of the body was given to him. In the photograph Sheikh was wearing a light blue Khandress, a silver ring and slippers.
Today all the concerned joined the vigil to pass a resolution of probing Sheikh’s mysterious death. The senior journalist of the valley, Shujaat Bukhari, who works with The Hindu addressed the gathering and informed that the authorities have closed this case without justice to the victim. “I knew Sheikh’s sahib personally since I was working with Kashmir Times, eighteen years ago. We have to join hands together to seek justice for his murder,” Bukhari said.
The gathering was addressed by NDTV Bureau Chief here, Nazir Masoodi also. He said, “Those beasts snatched Sheikh Sahib from us. They should be brought out of curtains and justice should be delivered. To destroy all evidences Sheikh Sahib was cremated by Punjab police. They didn’t even respect religious sentiments.”
Apart from the journalists, the vigil was also attended by veteran journalist, Muzamil Jaleel and his family members along with some people activists, lawyers and relatives. Kashmir Gulokaar Association, President, Gulzar Ahmad Ganai was also present at the vigil. He paid glowing tributes to the departed soul.
Join the page “Justice for Ghulam Nabi Sheikh-renowned Kashmiri singer” on Facebook. Click on the page title.