When even strangers feel a personal loss over a certain human departure, it perhaps reflects the level of tragedy. That’s how Shopian’s apple of an eye who had in him a streak of brilliance is being remembered after his sudden death.
BEFORE his shattering demise would trigger a sentimental storm that swept and inundated social media—the platform he used to plead for his homeland’s perpetual pain—Abrar Reyaz had just lived 24 summers of his life. The politically-steaming seasons during his fleeting lifetime had shaped him as a poised person who wielded wit and wisdom as his armour.
The hazardous highway might’ve just ended another life in Kashmir lately, but the budding lawyer was no boy-next-door.
From the young age itself, the boy from Shopian wasn’t basking in his own glory for nothing. Bereft of rage and brimming with reason, he had shown a maturity and promise to emerge as a reckoning voice from the valley.
By the dint of his silent workmanship, he had made great inroads in peoples’ lives and left an indelible mark. “No wonder they’re beating their chest over his sudden demise,” said his inconsolable university colleague. “His loss became personal, even for those who hardly knew him.”
Abrar’s elegiac colleague says the departed dreamer who wanted to work for the welfare of his homeland caught in the throes of the dogged discord came of age post-2016.
He announced his eager yet unruffled arrival on the valley’s legal landscape—even though he was still studying Law—with his insightful write-ups.
His judicious commentaries, including those published in Kashmir Observer, clearly made him appear ahead of his time. His last column was on whether police have any legal power to register FIRs and summon people.
His folks back home attribute his brilliance to his “Master ji”, his scholarly grandfather, who once held sway over Shopian township.
The curious child was born in summer 1996 — the year Kashmir saw the return of the “tricky ballot” led by Farooq Abdullah who had earlier abandoned the ship in 1990 “to play golf in England”.
Abrar’s advent as Kashmir’s conflict child raised by sham intrigues would deeply shape up his political understanding and personal life. Much of this was clearly reflecting from his articles.
His former classmates at Shopian’s Mohammadiya Institution, where he studied till 10th, remember Abrar as a composed debater. After clearing Class 12, he got selected in School of Legal Studies, Central University of Kashmir (CUK).
Even though some of his contemporaries were choosing their own path in the face of the searing strife back home, he would maintain a sage’s meditative calm. His unwavering focus would shortly transform his room into his personal library.
“The entire family would call him a ‘book worm’, as since his childhood, he was a voracious reader,” Zuhaib Manzoor, Abrar’s cousin, told Kashmir Observer. “Besides novels of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, George Orwell and others, he read Islamic fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) extensively.”
Mindful of making courtroom as the frontline of his life, he would participate in live hearing sessions to groom himself, the cousin continued. “Later he would intern with district and session courts in Shopian and Srinagar.”
Much of this court curiosity came handy in May 2019, when Abrar, among the five students of his Law School, would participate in international rounds of the Nuremberg Moot Court, in Germany.
His team finished second in the competition, in which teams from more than 60 countries participated. His teachers equate his foreign land feat with his ‘rebel with a cause’ image.
“He wasn’t only my student but a warrior dedicated to the cause so dear to his people,” Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a law professor, recalled the boy’s transient legend.
“Abrar was mature in context of Kashmir than most of those amongst whom he studied and was taught. He had a chance of working with me in relation to preparation of his moot for Nuremberg. He would often visit me and contribute to print and social media to highlight miseries of struggling Kashmiris.”
His promising life, much to everyone’s heartbreak, came to an abrupt end.
Chaperoning his ailing father along with his uncle to Srinagar for treatment, Abrar met an accident at Pampore on June 27 when their car rammed into a truck. While his uncle Syed Wasiq Peerzada succumbed on the way, Abrar and his father Riyaz Ahmad Sofi were brought to SMHS hospital in a critical state.
Abrar suffered a massive brain injury, while his father had multiple rib-fractures. The boy was placed on a ventilator and was monitored by a team of neurosurgeons.
But his last hours saw him going through some endless trials.
In his comatose state, he was declared COVID positive and was sent to the CD hospital. His shift to the corona-designated hospital devoid of neurosurgery ward shocked all and sundry.
Even as he had shown some signs of recovery, Abrar passed away in the same hospital hours later.
Amid sobs and tears, Shopian’s boy genius was finally laid to rest at his ancestral graveyard.
“He could’ve been saved if treated properly,” his wailing friend said. “Boys like him are our assets. Their untimely demise is our collective loss.”
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