GILGIT: When finding two square meals a day is an uphill task, stumbling upon Rs1 million surely means hitting the jackpot. Not for 28-year-old Abdul Hameed, though, who came across such an amount just before New Year and immediately set about finding the rightful owner.
The cash-strapped car workshop employee ran into an unattended bag on his way back from work in Jutial, Gilgit. “The bag was full of money,” says Hameed who hails from Ghizer’s Yaseen Valley, about 150 kilometres from Gilgit.
“I took the bag home and counted the money. It was one million,” Hameed told The Express Tribune on Sunday.
“The main issue was tracing the owner,” says Hameed who like many young people from his valley never went to school as the area is one of the least developed in terms of infrastructure. Hameed shared the story with one of his associates in the neighbourhood. The latter narrated the same to his boss Mithar Jan, a prominent social activist. The workshop employee says the money was ultimately traced to a cashier in NATCO, a government-sponsored transport company.
“I earn Rs10,000 and sometimes up to Rs15,000 a month, but I have never thought of using ill-gotten money. This is the manner in which I have been raised,” Hameed says.
The next day, Mithar Jan, local journalist Wajid Ali and Arab Khan went to the NATCO office to handover the money.
“We wanted to present the money in a way which would acknowledge the young man’s actions,” said Ali. “However, the head of NATCO Muhammad Saeedullah refused to meet us even though we conveyed the purpose of the visit and other [necessary] details.”
He said the group managed to meet a general manager and handed the large sum of money to him in his office. The journalist said it was unbelievable that an impoverished individual did not think of using the money even for a second.
Hameed is married with two children and lives with his family in a rented house in Gilgit for which he pays Rs3,000 a month. The meagre income is the main hurdle between Hameed’s children and their education as the father is unable to decide whether they should go to school or be sent to work.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 4th, 2016.