KL NEWS NETWORK
This day, last year, when Jhelum unleashed a wave of terror over Srinagar, Shafat Sidiq, a lensman from old city, stepped out of his Aali Kadal home, to do what he loved doing all his life: to capture images.
Shafat, a senior photojournalist working for Dainik Jagran, reluctantly stepped out that day. Though he had told his office, minutes before the phones died everywhere, about the threat looming large over the city, he was instructed to click some shots of ghantaghar in Lal Chowk.
At 10.30am, he had left home, telling his family that he would be back within an hour. But he couldn’t keep his promise. He didn’t return through the day to his family’s dismay. In the evening they went to the Zaina Kadal police station but found the SHO missing. They had to wait till morning to resume search.
By the next day, September 8, Jhelum had become dangerous, making it really difficult for the family. The deluge of rumours on top of that made things worse for them. Shafat’s family was told that he was last spotted at Srinagar Airport. Others said he was with his friend around Lal Chowk. While a few said he was trapped in his office. Amid this uncertainty, a pall of gloom descended over Najjar household.
After five excruciating days, their search ended on a heartbreaking note. Shafat’s body was found, with two cameras slung over his shoulders, near Batamaloo fire services station by some Kashmiri boys-turned-rescuers. Shafat, the sole breadwinner of the family, was brought home by the boys.
At home, Shafat’s ailing father Mohammad Sidiq, mother Saleema, two sisters and wife Yasmeen, lapping her 18-month-old son Mohammad, were inconsolable.
“I lost my friend and mentor,” says Bilal Bahadur, photo chief, Kashmir Life. “Shafat was a true gentleman, a thorough professional and a great human being who never cared for big offers, though he was a chip of the big block. All he cared in his life was capturing good photographs. Photography made him complete. He was truly one of the most talented in his flock.”
Months after his death, family lost Shafat’s father too. And now the family survives on generosity of his friends and relatives. One year after, the family of a genius lensman is still quietly mourning the loss.