19 June, 2021

Disappearance Trek

A 25-year-old goes missing in the middle of a one-day trek. Nine months later, J&K Police have no clue what happened to him.

Photograph by Umer Asif
Disappearance Trek

Irshad Ahmad Dar, 30, has never gone trekking, a familiar pastime among Kashmiri youngsters. Over the past nine months, however, he has become a familiar face for villagers in the mountains around Gangbal lake in northwest Kashmir’s Sonmarg area, which he has been visiting every week. The villagers know him as the brother of a “disappeared person”. “People suffer worse tragedies here, but at least many of them find some sort of closure. If I stay at home for some time, I start thinking about what happened to my brother. I rush to the mountains thinking he is stuck in a ditch somewhere, waiting for me to pull him out,” he says. On June 13, 2020, Irshad’s brother Hilal, 25, had left his home in Srinagar’s Bemina area along with four other young men for a one-day trek. The others returned to their homes in the evening, but Hilal did not. Inquiring about him, Irshad visited the homes of Hilal’s trekking companions. He was told that he got tired and stopped at a spot about 1 km before the destination of their 15-km uphill trek. On their...

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