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Babusar accident rescue efforts show sectarian harmony is possible

By Shabbir Mir

GILGIT: Concern for humanity trumped sectarian differences when residents of Chilas rushed to the accident site to retrieve bodies of six members of a family who were killed when their car fell into a gorge at Babusar Top on Sunday.

The family had been living in Rawalpindi/Islamabad and was on its way to its hometown in Nagar Valley to celebrate Eidul Fitr when the accident occurred.

While sectarian tolerance, particularly between people of Chilas and Nagar, was quite limited in the past, this rare show of harmony not only brought people closer, but also revealed that prevalence of unity in the region was possible.

Tragedy strikes

Liaqat Ali Khan, his wife, and two sons, along with Ijlal Hussain and his wife, were going to Nagar Valley when their car skidded off the road at Babusar Top and fell into a gorge.

Residents of Chilas rushed to the scene only to find all passengers had been killed on the spot.

They retrieved their bodies along with their belongings and helped the police shift them to the district headquarters hospital.

The aftermath

Not only was the assistance by locals an act of rare sectarian peace, the acknowledgment received from the government and significant bodies and authorities was also unheard of in the past.

Talking to The Express Tribune, local journalist Mujeebur Rehman said the hands and clothes of all the people who had pioneered rescue work were bloodstained. “Of course, volunteers did this for the sake of humanity, irrespective of cast, creed, sect or religion,” he said.

The Diamer police spokesperson, Muhammad Wakil, said the incident was heart-wrenching and the help of locals was commendable. “The spirit and dedication of locals helped the police perform its duties more eagerly and honestly,” Wakeel told The Express Tribune on Monday.

G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman also expressed grief over the loss of lives caused by the accident.

Moreover, social media was inundated with messages of appreciation for volunteers and condolences for the bereaved families.

“On behalf of the people of Nagar and Hussainia Supreme Council Nagar (HSCN), we are extremely thankful to the people of Chilas for [retrieving and] shifting bodies [of the deceased],” said Zakir Hussain, a senior HSCN member and prominent figure of the district.

He added the sincere effort made by the people of Chilas was remarkable. “We have no words to pay tribute to you [Chilas volunteers] for this sincere act of humanity you did while putting your own lives in danger.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2016.

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