In Mudasir Ali, Kashmir Lost a People’s Journalist

Mudasir Ali

Leading from the front, his colleagues termed him a thorough professional and a down-to-earth human being.

By Kaisar Mir

AS his teary-eyed tribe-members swarmed Nund Reshi’s town of Chrar-e-Sharief on the icy cold Friday morning to pay their condolences, they couldn’t make believe that the humble heart has stopped beating forever.

The town wore a mournful look over the sudden death of native Mudasir Ali, the smiling and easy-going scribe, who left behind a legacy of upright penmanship during his 15-year-long untiring journalism career.

The fun-loving journalist who would always crack jokes with his colleagues triggered a tsunami of tribute on social media sites.

Leading from the front, his colleagues termed him a thorough professional and a down-to-earth human being.

A Topper

“When we sat for the entrance exam to join MERC in 2005, Mudasir topped the list,” wrote Showkat Nanda, Kashmir’s award-winning photo journalist, in his tribute to Ali who lost his life to a massive cardiac arrest.

“He left us behind in all the subsequent semester exams. Never knew he would be ahead of us in leaving this world too.”

A Shining Star

Veteran media coach, Prof. Nasir Mirza, termed Ali as a shining star, an honest journalist and an asset in his tribute.

“I know him as an ideal student,” Prof Mirza said. “He was highly focussed and truly devoted, blessed with all good qualities of head and heart. His sudden departure is a personal loss.”

A Fun-loving Person

Journalist Bilal Hussain termed Ali as the full of life person.

“We at GK newsroom would party, crack jokes and have loads of fun,” Hussain said. “While it is indeed hard to believe that you left this world, you have bequeathed us with lots of cherished memories and they will stay with us.”

A Brilliant Journalist

Celebrated journalist Muzamil Jaleel in his tribute termed Ali as a wonderful human being.

“The hearts of our youthful friends and colleagues are stopping suddenly,” Jaleel said.

“There is so much grief in our lives. There is so much unbearable pain that we see and feel every day. Living, working, existing is a never ending struggle. And the good among us, those who aren’t numb already, can’t take it anymore. When will we start living again, when will our land stop seeing the frail shoulders of parents carrying the coffins of their young children … when will we resume dying of old age … when will we start telling the happy stories..

“Rest in peace, Mudasir Ali. You kept on telling the stories of our people, of our land till the end. You were a brilliant, hardworking journalist. You were a wonderful human being. You went too soon. We will always remember you.”

Another Heart Attack

The terrible year continues to wreak havoc, said TV journalist Mir Fareed.

“Young journos dying of heart attack is another shocking thing that we have witnessed this year,” Fareed wrote in his social media post.

“Is it to do with a changed work environment post August 5 or Covid related financial stress or silent Covid itself?

“But it’s devastating to see young promising lives ending in such a tragic manner. Mudasir Ali, rest in peace!”

An Untiring Scribe

In his over 15 years of active journalism career, Ali never took rest, said journalist Nazir Ganaie.

“You were always on the go, working, and overthinking,” Ganaie said. “You have now met your last deadline and your new and final journey has begun.”

A Brave Reporter

Ali was among the very few brave reporters at Kashmir’s press club reporting about the assault on Kashmir beginning August, 2019, journalist Baba Tamim said in his Facebook tribute

“When most of the reporters were scared and self-censored, he was one among the few on the streets risking it all, in the information black hole for the sake telling stories of his people,” Tamin wrote.

“I don’t know what stressed him but I know for sure most of us in the valley and from the valley have had a depressing life for decades, with no way to let out. And piling expectations to survive through the never ending miseries has burdened our shoulders too much to carry the coffins of our young brothers.”

A Zen Master

In May, wrote Mir Hilal in his tribute to Ali, he thought of doing a story on the ordeal of parents of the militants, whose bodies were not handed to their families and were being buried in Sonmarg.

“The idea was to travel along with one such family. Instinctively, Mudasir came to my mind when I thought of someone with whom I could do this story. I called him. Talking to him always felt like talking to a Zen master. There would be pauses. Being mature beyond his age, he always took time to respond, as if he were weighing every syllable. And he always sounded right. When I told him about the idea, he said, “Gacchav haez”,” Hilal wrote.

Being a grounded reporter who always kept his finger on the pulse, Ali told Hilal if at all they were to do that story, they would have to leave at dawn “because Covid lockdown was also being used to prevent journalists from performing their job”.

“Also, he said, they won’t let us travel with a militant’s family,” Mir said.

“So, one day, at 5am, I reached his rented accommodation at Chhanpora. He had barely slept (he worked late into the night and always would be working on a couple of stories for outside portals). Eyes groggy and hastily gorging on two slices of bread and a fried egg, he said he was ready to go. He was right. Hardly any soldier or policeman was manning dozens of checkpoints along the Sonmarg route. At the graveyard, we were in a dilemma whether to take pictures, as this would attract the attention of the soldiers and policemen in the nearby army camp and police station. “Tulav haez,” he said, smiling, with the excitement of a contented reporter who had stumbled upon a good story.”

On their way back, Hilal said, they stopped in Kangan.

“He spoke about how journalism was becoming increasingly a difficult profession, problems at workplace. Then, out of nowhere, he said, “Isn’t this story the reward in itself”.”

In the murky world of Kashmiri journalism, it is rare to find a journalist who has not dirtied his soul with myriad forms of corruption available to him. Mudasir was one of them.”

A People’s Journalist

In short, said journalist Gowher Geelani, Kashmir on Friday lost a people’s journalist in Mudasir Ali.

“Mudasir would listen more, understand more, write more. And speak less,” Geelani said.

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