Kashmir Porter Who Died Saving A Lady Pilgrim Was Fighting Abject Poverty

SRINAGAR: A pall of gloom descended upon the dusky Chaklipora village as the corpse of Imtiaz Ahmad Khan was driven to the hamlet. Khan slipped down the gorge at Sangam while saving a lady pilgrim, people who were accompanying Khan said.

Imtiyaz Ahmad Khan, the horse owner from South Kashmir’s Shangus area, died while saving an Amarnath-bound lady pilgrim on July 13, 2022. The photograph shows him as the groom, barely more than a year ago.

“He started from Panjtarni at around 3 am despite the track being muddy and slippery,” Riyaz Ahmad Khan, who also accompanied Imtiayz with his horse, said. “As the horse slipped, he did his best to save the pilgrim and his horse and succeeded in that but eventually slipped down the gorge at Sangam.”

Imtiyaz was later taken to Baltal for medico-legal formalities and his body was flown to his home in the Chattergul area of Anantnag. The family and the village were inconsolable as the dead body was handed over to the family. The huge village, mostly dominated by the Scheduled Tribes is almost 15 km from Shangus.

Sole breadwinner of the family, the tragic death of young Khan shattered the entire village. His story of the struggle to come out of abject poverty is on tip of the tongue of every resident.

Riyaz, his friend and support said that Imtiyaz started working for the yatra for the first time in 2018. “He had no horse and we provided him one for the season and that was his first year to earn for the family,” Riyaz said. “There was no yatra for the three remaining seasons.”

Ahead of the 2022 yatra, the family sold a Kanal of land and acquired a horse. They had high hopes of some earnings.

Imtiyaz’s father, Mohammad Yousuf is too old and weak. He has only one eye working properly. So Imtiyaz was the only source of earning for the family that comprised his parents, three sisters and a younger brother. He would earn to help his sister study. One of his sisters is a student of the eleventh standard.

Besides, Riyaz said, Imtiyaz had his own pressures. He married two years back and now was a father of a daughter, who is barely eight months old.

However, his death marked the end of a huge struggle that Imtiyaz put in. The locality said that the government and the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board  (SASB) must chip in to help the family that has given a precious life to the safety and conduct of the pilgrimage. Gujjar leader, Guftar Ahmad termed Khan an “example of courage and humanity”.

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