They dared deadly guns during the Second World War and helped their colleagues survive bullets. Impressed by brave Ghulam Qadir Wani of Maisuma, Srinagar, a Sikh Solider from Punjab, Ranjit Rai called him and hugged him. They became friends and exchanged their watches as a memento of their love for each other. The war ended and both of them rushed to their respective places.
On October 27, 1947 when Indian troops officially landed in Srinagar, some persons believed to be National Congress (NC) Workers went to Rambagh to greet them. Ghulam Qadir Wani was also present there. The Indian soldiers fired on them, killing 11 persons including Ghulam Qadir Wani. The soldiers commanded by Ranjit Rai, who had now become a Lt. Colonel stopped near the bridge for some time.
Rai ordered a soldier to get him a cup of tea. When the soldier served the tea, Rai had a look at his watch. He became curious and questioned him. “Where did you get this watch from?” The soldier replied, “This is my watch sir.” Rai could not take more of it. “This is my watch. I gave it to my friend during the War. Tell me the truth or I will kill you”, he shouted. The sacred soldier narrated the truth. “We killed some persons a short while ago, I removed this watch from the arm of one of the deceased”, he informed the curious Rai.
Tears rolled down his cheek. “Where is the body? Take me there immediately”. Rai yelled at him. One look at the face of the deceased and he turned hysterical. He cried like a woman. After hurling a few abuses on the soldier he sat down and cursed his soldiers.
Meanwhile, Qadir’s relatives come to take the body. Rai gave them a vehicle and accompanied them to Maisuma. Qadir’s body was taken to Haji Masjid for the final bath. Rai removed his shoes, entered the Mosque and participated in the ritual. He was sobbing all the time. Finally, when Qadir’s coffin was taken to the graveyard at Dal Lake for burial, Rai accompanied the bereaved and stayed at the graveyard till his friend was laid to rest.
On his return from the Graveyard, he talked about the deceased friend. “We survived bullets together during the war. I had never imagined that my own soldiers will kill my friend.”, he said and left.
The same day, Rai left for Baramulla. In a fierce battle with the “Azad Forces”, he got killed.
Lt. General L.P Sen in his book, Slender was the Thread, says the firing incident took place in November. According to him it was an accident. However, local historians and elder brother of Ghulam Qadir Wani say with authority that the incident took place on 27th of October. The death of Rai at Baramulla on October 27 confirms it.