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Bear Witness With Me Dear Motherland

Watan Ki Miti Gawah RehnaI share with you a very heart touching article written by Anwar Mansuri and Munawer Azeem for DAWN’s Crime Diary. I suggest everyone to take the time to read this summarized reproduction of Umar Deen‘s suicide note. I fear this is just the tip of the ice-berg unless immediate drastic measures are not taken to bring our people out of the crushing economy things are bound to get worse. It is sad to see our endless list of corrupt leaders whitewash their own millions of dollars of debt while and sadly this poor Pakistani could not meet his commitment for the Rs. 80,000 loan he needed to make ends meet basically to survive

The image attached is written and signed by Umar Deen himself ‘Watan Ki Mitti Gawah Rahna [Bear Witness With Me Dear Motherland]’ and finally he wraps up his note with a touching statement I know my suicide will not bring any revolution in the country but it must not go waste. Let us, as citizens of Pakistan, promise him to not let his suicide go waste.

Published in DAWN on 9th April 2008
Last Friday an ice-cream vendor, Umar Deen, committed suicide by shooting himself at Aabpara chowk, Islamabad’s busiest and oldest landmark. Next day’s newspapers reported routinely that financial problems had driven him to the desperate act.

And that was the end of the sad story for the society. But should it be?

Umar, 28, left behind a pretty long suicide note titled Watan Ki Mitti Gawah Rehna (Bear Witness With Me Dear Motherland). Dawn is publishing excerpts from this testimony of a self-respecting youngman against a callous world. Written at leisure and with emotion, but not bitterness, the note has two parts — one addressed to his family and the other to the society. A matriculate, Umar apparently planned to take his life in front of the Parliament House as mentioned on the opening page of his suicide note book which he begins with seeking forgiveness from his mother for his act.

After a few Urdu couplets, reflecting the hard life he had lived, and decided to end, he writes an imaginary verdict which reads: “The court of Islamic Republic of Pakistan finds accused Umar Deen, alias Mazhar Iqbal (Umar Udas), guilty of not paying the money he owed to usurers and for living in worst of conditions and, rejecting all his mercy appeals, sentences him to death”.

As if he wanted it to be the last such sentence, Umar ended the verdict with the words: “The court is adjourned”.

Then he says goodbye to his friends, each by his name, and leaves his cellphone’s SIM for ‘brother Rameez’ with instructions to get it registered “otherwise it will be blocked”.

Then follow two appeals addressed to his family and to the prime minister of the country.

In the first one he consoles his family, telling them “I’m not the first young man to die. Thousands suffer oppression every day and thousands meet tragic deaths. Don’t grieve for me and don’t delay (sister) Sumaira’s marriage. Zameer and uncle Rehmat will take care of things in my place. I’ve spoken to Khaleel Mughal. He will give you good furniture (for dowry) at cheap rate. No one but the system in this country is responsible for my death. Here the poor are mere playthings in the hands of the rich and goodness and human feelings are disregarded and devalued.

I’ve no complaints against anyone and seek forgiveness from all. “Important: No daswaan, beeswaan, chaleeswaan (the traditional 10th, 20th and 40th day of mourning) for me. Just recite Quran and pray to Allah for me. Khuda Hafiz.

Umar wrote about himself and his decision to take his life thus: “My name is Umar Deen. I changed it to Umar Udas in view of what I have gone through in life. I’m 28 and unmarried.

Experts say people commit suicide to get recognition, or to prove themselves right or to gain eternity. I don’t know where my decision fits in. “What I know is that I passed high school in 1998 and instead of looking for a job, started working as a labour. In winter I worked as a labourer with masons and in summer I sold cone ice- cream and thus could run the house (the family expenses).

Life was comfortable until prices started rising and load- shedding (power shutdown) getting worse. Without electricity my cone ice-cream machine could not earn me enough. Millions of my countrymen suffer this (electricity) problem. What I can say for myself is that in the past two years it ruined my business. I was dying a little every moment, struggling to arrange Rs7,000 rent of our house plus utility bills and other expenses. In such adverse circumstances one either takes to crime, or takes loan or commits suicide. I took a Rs80,000 loan from my previous landlady. I could pay the monthly interest of Rs10,000 for a few months only and lost all means to pay her the interest as electricity shutdown grew longer and longer. Her demands for the money I owed her grew louder and sinister all this time. My family didn’t know that I had taken loan from her. She has set April 1 as the deadline for the return of her entire amount. I have assured her that I’ll meet the deadline. But by that time the news of my suicide will reach her and she would calm down. I’m left with no other choice as she has threatened to send me to jail. That would bring dishonour to my family — a living death for us all. Why should not I end the whole game instead?

If I had any hope of getting the money, I would have certainly returned the money I owe her. But it is not possible. The only way left for me is to commit suicide in front of the Parliament House.

Here Umar addresses a moving appeal to the newly elected Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. “Please find a solution quickly to price hike, load-shedding and usurers to save the youth of this country from dying. Our forefathers gave great sacrifices to win this country. And it will need more sacrifices to run it.

I know my suicide will not bring any revolution in the country but it must not go waste. I appeal to Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani to give special attention to the poor of the country who have no home of their own because the rich are ever distributing death to the poor and the helpless


16 Comments

  • kg |

    Inna Lillahe Wa Inna Ilaihee Rajion

    May Allah forgive Umer for his suicide. Ameeen.

    Our rulers today do not fear the court of Allah. All they care about it their image in the media and in front of our Masters.

    May Allah destroy them and their houses which they built on the corrupt money looted from this country and may Allah destroy the false GODS these *leaders* worship, Ameeen.

    No body cares about the responsibilities that come along with the positions, because their is no accountability. Our *leaders* are busy minting money for themselves and their children.

    The plight of poor people doesn’t fall on their ears. Yes they would like to have their pictures taken helping the poor, but in reality they don’t really care.

  • Dee |

    May his soul rest in peace(Amin).I am not going to curse rulers for his death.Since we are members of this community then scrutiny should start with us not with government.I am fed up with people avoiding the blame game by assigning the faults to others i.e government.
    Lets talk about our greed for more, lust for money and our superficial desire to show off.
    May i know why there is a demand for dowry, why on earth he had to pay 10,000 Rs interest per month on 80,000Rs loans and lastly, why he had to killed himself just because he was not able to survive?.
    If we keep looking away from above mentioned problems then we have no right to blame anyone but ourselves.
    Dee

  • kg |

    Dear Dee,

    Scrutiny should start with the govt people? Why? these are the people rest of the people follow. These are the decision makers. The higher the position the higher the responsibility.

    If the leaders can set up good examples, people would follow those examples. If leaders set up bad examples, people would follow that too. Thats what leadership means.

    You are saying that the herd of sheeps should learn and be responsible for themselves and not the shepherd. Then why not people try to educate the sheeps instead of hiring a shepherd? What seems more practical to you? Teach the sheeps to behave or hiring a good shepherd?

    If the sheeps hurt each other and one of them looses a leg and another looses an eye, who would you blame? The sheeps?

    If there was no need of examples to be set then Allah would have simply sent down QURAN and told the people to just learn it and behave in a good manner. There would have been no need for setting examples and thus no need for Prophets.

    Check this…(http://www.bockinfo.com/040720spia2.htm)
    ……In his book, “Goodbye, Darkness,” author and Marine veteran William Manchester tells the story about a day when General Douglas MacArthur was standing outside his bunker during an air raid. Aides called from the bunker and begged him to get under cover and out of danger.

    MacArthur refused. He thought his show of personal courage was important because, as he put it, “If I do it, the generals do it. And if the generals do it the colonels do it. If the colonels do it the captains do it …”

    One of my commanding officers in the Marines, Captain James W. Ayers, put it this way, “There is no leadership except leadership by example.” The person at the top of a group or a department or the entire agency sets the tone and example for everyone else.

  • Toqeer Gilani |

    I think Umer deen was more intelligent in his observation about things and about the cruel system that puts people like umerdin, who are 80% of this country, to such a situation and they are left with no other choice but to kill themselves. He didn’t die because he committed suicide but he died because he was compelled to commit suicide and He has been dying a little every moment for many years. He is very clear in his note that he needs a revolution but he was not sure that his death would bring it. According to his note he had to pay 7000 for house rent. Our newly elected democratic and pro-people government has announced 6000 as minimum salary. Previously it was 4500.What a shame? the worst part is that still hundreds of thousands of working people in Pakistan do not even get the minimum pay fixed by Govt. Umer din says "the riches are ever distributing death to the poor and the helpless” He is very right. Riches, not only in Pakistan but every where in the world, are busy in distributing deaths. They can distribute deaths but not their wealth. Lust for profits and making money by every possible on earth means is the order of this system. We can only wish that Umer Deen’s appeal to Prime Minister will be heard and fatal price hike, unending load shedding and ever increasing joblessness will be controlled. But we must know that it seems almost an impossible task to achieve in present capitalist system because it is not in the instinct of capitalism to stop, limit or cut its’ profit making circuit. Only a socialist change can bring new hopes for those who are on their last legs.

  • Jawan |

    May Allah SWT forgive him for his act of commiting suicide, Ameen.

  • ART |

    I AM REALLY TOUCHED BY THIS SAD ACT BUT I KNOW THAT MANY WILL BE FOLLOWING IT.I PRAY TO ALMIGHT TO FORGIVE HIM N ALSO GUIDE OTHERS TO AVOID SUCH ACT AND TO US TO HELP NEEDY IN TIME WITH MONEY N FACILITATIONS.

  • Faisal.K |

    i feel like beating the shit out of someone… this story makes me so mad!! what a disgrace we are as a nation.. what a pathetic excuse for Muslims and humans we are…people like umerdin die underneath the yoke of our slavery and exploitation of them daily yet we sit in our air conditioned homes and act as if nothing is wrong.

    SHAME ON US AND SHAME ON PAKISTAN!!!
    WE SHALL HAVE TO ANSWER FOR DEATHS LIKE THIS ONE DAY!!

  • Karim |

    Obviously a soft hearted sensitive man. I am also sorry for the land lady who will probably feel like shit for the rest of her life..nice revenge!
    This man’s suicide note should be chiseled on a huge rock and placed in front of the houses of power presidential house or parliament and it should remain there till the time that at least the minimum he wanted was not met for the people in the country..AS A SYMBOL OF COLLECTIVE SHAME FOR ALL.

  • waseem |

    May Allah Almighty forgive Umer Deen and give patient and stability to his family. Although Umer is not among us but still i would like to assure him that i would like to fullfill the noble cause for which he secrified his precious life.

    I will mean it.

  • sawan |

    May Allah Almighty be kind to his soul. It is undoubtedly regretfull and very sorrowful situation for us as a nation and solution lies in joint struggle by all of us whether it be government or society or individuals. We are one of very rare resourcefull nations and what we need is to purge ourselves from all social evils like corruption, bribery, hoarding,nepotism which our Qaid identified at very inception of our journey as a nation. Our youth must struggle and struggle and Umer Din might have died like a hero if he died of struggle.

  • Riaz Haq |

    This is indeed a tragic story, and I think it only represents the tip of the iceberg.
    Umar Deen took the unusual step of articulating his reasons for his suicide and relating it to the national crises of food, electricity and poverty affecting many others struggling to cope. Well, he lost
    his struggle in life but, in his death, gave voice to others engaged in the same struggle. Let’s hope his suicide note leads to serious action by the people, the NGOs and the new democratic government to build a basic safety net reduce the number of suicides related to
    economic reasons. Failure to do so could lead to many more deaths in social strife and riots in the streets.

  • Abjad Hawwaz |

    Alhamdulillah
    Wassalatu ala Rasoolullah,

    During the khilafah of Umar(RA) once a man was accused of stealing and brought in front of Umar(RA) for judgement. People at the time knew for certain that this man will loose his left hand as the punishment dictated.

    Umar(RA) asked the man about the items that he had stolen and he replied that it was bread. Umar(RA) then asked the reason why he stole the bread, and the man told that because he could not afford to buy it and he had hungry children in his house.

    Hearing this, Umar(RA) let the accused person free. Not only that but also allotted flour and food items for his family.

    The question is: Did the man steal”
    The answer is: Yes

    However, the ruling applied by Umar(RA) was contrary to the hudood “limits”.

    Hence we find that it is not enough to judge those who stand accused just on the merit of their actions, rather, a much deeper understanding of the judgement itself is necessary to envision its implication, application, need, and fate of the one accused.

    Point in question: Did Umer Deen’s action overtly point to a suicide?
    The answer: Yes

    Next question: Do we find among ourselves, the Umar(RA) to judge this Umar?

    The answer: A resounding NO.

    Then let us learn from the chronicles of history, and consider Umar Deen’s situation and his end, in light of Umar(RA)’s depth in taking a decision and then conclude who really is responsible for Umar Deen’s action of desperation, lonliness, helplessness resulting from the apathy of others.

    Umar(RA)’s ruling points to himself being responsible for the actions of the accused. Is that the case in this Umar’s situation. Who is going to pick up the responsibility and the blame for his passing??

    I think, the nation as whole needs to face this and all those who are surrendering their existence because they are caught between a rock and a hard place and without any straw to hold on to.

    My heart goes out to Umar Deen’s family, and I still cannot agree within myself to name his last action on this earth a suicide… Maybe if there is canonical term describing the suicide of a whole nation’s self conciousness, then yes, that is what I would term as his action…

    May Allah (SWT) have mercy on his soul. Verily, Allah (SWT) is merciful even to those who openly deny Him. Imagine how much mercy He holds for those who have recognized him as their LORD, and follow a simple principle of “enjoining the GOOD, and forbidding the evil”.

    I pray that before turning to such desparation others currently in such dire straits, will Insha’Allah, recognize that even after all doors of opportunity are shut, the way to asking Allah (SWT) is always available and He does listen, and He does provide.

    May Allah (SWT) guide the people of this nation and again endow them with the spirit that they have lost. Verily their hopes only hinge on You our LORD.

    “Ya Rabb dile-Muslim ko, woh zindah tamanna daye”

  • Karim |

    Nice try dood..but I have never seen bread falling from the sky!

  • sehri |

    I totally agree wid faisal its a total shame dat we all live our lives 2 da max knowing thr r such sad events happening, i knew dis family nd i am very upset, nd 2 dis day his family stil mourn over his death, R.I.P Mazhar u r missed…