The release of Coke Studio Explorer — Coke Studio Pakistan’s new venture — on 11 July, Wednesday, had a traditional Kashmiri song almost 70 years after it was written by revolutionary Kashmiri poet Mehjoor. The traditional folk song of love and separation has earned thousands of young admirers in the Valley, but what’s most intriguing about this song is its singer, Altaf Ahmad Mir.
The 50-year-old singer is from Janglat Mandi in Anantnag in Kashmir who left the Valley at the age of 22 and went to Pakistan. Surprisingly, not to become a singer but a militant. He went across the border in 1990 and is yet to return home. Now, his song is winning hearts in Kashmir.
The song “Ha Gulo” meaning “Oh Flower” was viewed on the Youtube channel by thousands of music lovers throughout the world in less than 24 hours. As per an IANS report, Muhammad Altaf Mir is presently based in Muzaffarabad. Mir was associated as a broadcaster with Radio Pakistan for a long time and these days he leads a band called ‘Qasamir’. Mir sang “Ha Gulo” to the accompaniment of the traditional ‘Sarangi’ and the Kashmiri ‘Tumbaknari’ — two prominent musical instruments.
Muhammad Altaf Mir came back to India in 1994 but didn’t join militancy. At that time, the counter-insurgent force, Ikhwan, wielded strong influence in the Valley, especially Anantnag. He then went back to Pakistan in 1995 and settled permanently in Muzaffarabad. In Muzaffarabad, he started to work for an NGO which trained boys in the art of chain stitch, and then set up a band called Qasamir. Last year, he got his break in Coke Studio Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Mir’s family is happy is very happy with his sudden fame and hopes that he returns to the Valley. Mir’s brother Javeed said that Mir was always inclined towards music.
Mir’s band includes Ghulam Mohammad Dar (sarangi player), Saif-ud-din Shah who plays the tumbakhnaer, a popular Kashmiri folk instrument like a drum; and Manzoor Ahmad Khan, who plays the nout, another Kashmiri instrument, all originally from Kashmir — was chosen.