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Rashid Ashraf 1932-2007 Fearless fighter -_ By Saadia Salahuddin The News-29 July, 2007 Qamar Deen, known as Qamar Yurish, who became a labour leader in 1950 was'a short story writer with 27 books, mostly on the lives of labourers’, to his credit, Yurish was his pen name which means battle, rebellion. All his life, he haz been raising a voice against exploiters and oppressors. Qamar Yurish's life was devoted to revolution. Comrades have come and gone but not without influencing millions of men around them. Comrade Fazal Elahi Qurban would say: “If I had ten men like Qamar I would have established a labourers’ government. During the zia regime, Qamar was retained at the Lahore Fort where Hassan Nasir lost his life and Aslam Maznab his mental balance. Only Qamar turish had nerves strong enough to survive the dungeon where they had placed a snake under his mat which he found to be | dead. Gamar protested every time he felt the need. He once ment on a 15-day hunger-strike and fainted with weakness. He was charged with treason in Ayub's regime and asked to leave the country. And when he was hiding in Ashfaq Ahmed's elder brother's house, the agencies planted a bomb outside, which was luckily detected in time. Both his hands wore damaged for life while saving Ahmedi labourers. This was atthe "Khatm-o-Nabuwat' rally when the police opened fire at the labourers and where he took the bullets on his hands and saved the labourers. This surprised the Ahmedis and they wanted to know why he saved them, he said that first and foremost they were human beings and thatis what mattered to him. T met Gamar Yurish for the first time two years ago. It was a week before his birthday that fell on May 5. May Day was approaching and T had gone to interview him on the occasion. As I entered the Labour Party office where the meeting was scheduled, I found a man sitting on a chair on the landing of the staircase. He grected me warmly as if he instinctively knew who I was. This was Qamar Yurish with Sparkling eyes and a very kind face. Born in poverty in 1932, Qamar and his elder brother lost their mother when they were very young. Their father was sold to carpet weavers for Rs 10 when he was a child and died when Qamar was quite young. People suggested that both the brothers be sent ta an orphanage, but his nasni (maternal grandmother), who Qamar remembered as a brave woman, resisted the pressure. She raised the two brothers. While Gamar's brother became a lawyer, Qamar ran away from school when he was in clazs 2. "I hated school. I loved te roam around in the city like a free spirit. When I was a young boy Tloved to wear khaksar uniforms and people called me a little mujahid,” | amar Yurish told me. \ When he grew up he realised the importance of education but he had to earn to survive. He spent a year at a technical college and joined the Railways in 1950. From the very beginning he was part of the labour struggle. Qamar Yurish kept moving from one place to another. “When { had a sort of permanent place to live I gave shelter to many people in my house. My brother got so sick of this practice that he sold the house. Since then I have been staying here and there,” he said in his interview to The News on Sunday. T stayed in a deni madrasa for 13 years. I was there because of a friend. When he died they turned me out labelling me a heathen. When I met him he was living in the Labour Party's office. 1 couldn't believe it and said that I see no place where one could sleep in that office. At this he asked me to follow him. He led me to the rooftop. fin old bedding could be seen folded at a corner. "This is my bed and here I sleep," he said. At the age of 73, he would walk down to Ustad Daman's dera every day and come back to Abbot Road every evening. Gamar had nothing to lose for he shared all that he had. The only gain in his life was the love of the people whose pathshe | crossed. ing and speech retain the sharpness of a razor’s edge. Qamar said that as long as feudals thrived, labourers would never get he maulvis raise such a hue and cry over the marathons but none of them has ever condemned deg fights which is actually ane of the most dirty games men play,” he said, indicating at the roots of feudalism in Pakistan. "LT want ta bring democracy to Pakistan, a setup where there will be no hunger and deprivation. Where there is no unemployment and corruption, no guard on thinking. Where luxury is not for a chosen class and happiness is for everyone. Where humanity is not divided _ into compartments, where hunger, poverty and disease is not the fate of the poor. Where money, corruption and threat are nat the means to success," he wrote. (= amar Yurish passed away on July 18. 29-07-2007/dia.htm a eae UL Pa +f One | O 6 St bbe ¥ Gre 3 Uda: sk O JIN - Te gd Pict Zev 3. 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