MY DAYS WITH ZAKIR MUSA, MANNAN WANI AND LT UMMER FAYAZ
They were my colleagues and friends I remember them all and I miss them
I met Parvaiz Ahmad and Zakir Musa in boarding school. Parvaiz and I enrolled in the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Pulwama – now called JNV Shopian – in 2000. Zakir came only in 2009, joining a class junior to us.
Parvaiz was quite vocal, always arguing with older schoolmates, teachers and other staff over something or the other. “Never give them a chance to exploit you,” he would advise us about senior students and staff. It wasn’t a surprise that he was captain of our class as well as of the school sports team. He was as good in studies as in painting, sketching, and terracotta work.
Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas are managed by the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, an autonomous body under the Union human resource development ministry. There are 589 JNVs in India. A student enrolled in any JNV gets a chance to visit other JNVs, meet students and even study for a few years there under a student exchange programme. I studied at JNV Aligarh for a year, and was transferred from JNV Shopian to JNV Ganderbal for classes 11 and 12. It was there I met Mannan Wani, who migrated from JNV Kupwara the following year.
Mannan was good in studies and excelled in sports. He represented Jammu and Kashmir in kabbadi tournaments across North India and participated in Republic Day and Independence Day parades as a National Cadet Corps cadet.
The Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti organises sports competitions and academic and arts events all year round. Students from various JNVs participate in them. It was at such an event that I met Ummer Fayaz, who was from JNV Anantnag.
How our paths diverged after we finished school! They all took up arms, on different sides. Parvaiz was one of the rebels who was slain alongside Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July 2016. Zakir is now a poster boy of the new wave of militancy in Kashmir as is Mannan Wani, who recently quit his doctoral studies at the Aligarh Muslim University and became a militant. Ummer, who had joined the Indian army, was at a relative’s wedding in Shopian when he was kidnapped and killed.
In December, a few days before Mannan picked up the gun, JNVs across India celebrated Alumni Day. On the occasion, Mannan made a speech at JNV Kupwara, his alma mater.
I celebrated Alumni Day at JNV Ganderbal. My old mates and I spoke about Parvaiz and Ummer and prayed for both of them. It didn’t matter what they had chosen to die for, they both were our colleagues and our friends. They both left a void in our lives.
- (Publish Date: Feb 13 2018 2:38AM....The story has appeared in Kashmir Ink)