Friday, June 18, 2021
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Kashmir- Kashmiriyat - Kashyap Bandhu

By Dr. Rajiv Kumar

Pandit Kashyap Bandhu ji has been the only multifaceted personality of our times. Much has been written about him as a journalist par excellence. He has been described as the tallest social reformer of the Pandit community. He was head and shoulders above others in the political leadership arena, and above all he was a rural development visionary.

Very little has been written of him as a Kashmiri, whose heart and soul were deeply entrenched in the soil of Kashmir. He suffered because of this attachment both domestically as well as politically but his heart would bleed even at the thought of leaving Kashmir even temporarily. He was a rebel by temperament, and therefore had the courage to pen down while in Quetta in late twenties:

Bulbul Na Yeh Wasiyat Ahbab Bool Jayen
Ganga ke badle Mere jehlum Mein Phool Jayen.

He had wished it so, that if he would die outside the valley, his ashes should be carried back to the valley for immersion in the Jehlum. Although Ganges is revered more by the Hindus for their last rites, he had categorically willed that Jehlum was to be given preference over the Ganges, and that is what was done when he breathed his last in December 1985. He was actually named Tara Chand. Bulbul wms his Takhalus but he was renamed Kashyap Bandhu brother of Kashmiri people by Vishwa Bandhu - Principal of Vrjanand Ashram, Lahore.

In early sixties he was working upon Rural Development Project for conversion of Saniwari (the low lands) into Sonawari (The gold yielding lands). His flood control and plantation work (Alas! all the millions of willows have been engulfed in the fire of AZADI) was being highlighted at the national level. A very high level team had landed at Sumbal from Delhi escorted by Late Sh. D. P. Dhar. Things were being discussed about undertaking such projects in other parts of the country. Boodhan Tehrik and Vinoba Bhave's mission was being discussed. One of the gentlemen enquired of Bandhuji as to what would he like to do after completion of the Sonawari Project. Pat came the reply:

"I will go and rest under my Chinar at Gairoo". And that is what he exactly did. Even though all the members of the large joint family left the ancestral house in one connection or the other, he continued to stay there only - an alone in the big house till he breathed his last. I was the youngest in the family and had the privilege of living with him for a very long time but finally I too, left but he would not. One day when I approached him with a suggestion that I would like to acquire a plot of land at Srinagar he called for my mother and wanted to enquire if I was a truly hereditary descendant of the family.

While I was growing under his tutelage he would ensure that I would get all the necessary inputs needed by a true Kashmiri child. In my village school he ensured that I be taught Persian along with Urdu. He would be immensely pleased when I would recite "Karima Bi-Bakshai Bar Haal-e-maa: Ki Hastam Aseer-e-Kamande Hawa". Consequently I was the only Pandit boy in the Urdu class of Sh. Mushtaq Sahib at D.A. V. School Srinagar. Bandhujee's idea behind teaching me Urdu and Persian was to finally make me read and write Kashmiri. Although he was an Arya Samaji by conviction he would always encourage me to visit the local temple in the morning and the Asthan of Sheikh Hyder Sahib in the evenings. He would always be glad when my mother would cook yellow rice and take it to the Asthan for distribution among children there.

I would be made to get up very early in the morning to learn my lessons. Soon after that Peer Mubarak Shah's voice would be heard through the loud speakers of the local mosque calling the devotees for the Namaz. I had learned the whole azan by heart. One day he came to know of it, sent for the peer and asked him to hear me reciting the same and to correct me if I was doing it wrongly.

Visitors would pour into the house regularly at all hours to meet him - both our own villagers as well as from distant places. I was made to get the Hookah for both Pandit as well as Muslim visitors. I had to get the water changed and chillum going to the satisfaction of the smoker. Once another respected villager Sh. Akram Bhat complained that it was not proper for me to do all these errands. Pat came the reply: "How else is he going to learn that he has to respect Rasool Dar as well as Govind Koul at par. This is the crux of our Kashmiri traditions and culture."

Bandhuji was tremendously loyal not only to the Kashmir motherland; its culture - the Kashmiriat but also to the political cause. When Sheikh Abdullah was dismissed and arrested in 1953, Kashyap Bandhu was also incarcerated and kept in Kathua Jail for a number of years. He did not join hands with Bakshi Ghulam Mohmad in spite of being cajoled because of Sheikh Abdullah's and Mirza Afzal Beg's continued incarceration. In 1975 when Sheikh Abdullah concluded the "Beg - Parthasarthi" accord and wrote to Bandhuji to tighten his belt for service to the public (I remember, the letter said Zanar bandi Kijeye - Quam Ki Khidmat Ka waqt aa gaya hai) Bandhuji flatly refused saying that the Sher-i-Kashmir whom Bandhuji knew was not to be seen after this accord. Therefore he had no intention of working with him again under the terms and conditions of this accord.

But alas! today not only has this great son of Kashmir been forgotten, he has been betrayed. His ancestral house wherein he breathed his last with none but Ama Sheikh by his bedside has been razed to ground. No evidence has been left behind to indicate that a four storey house ever existed there. The orchard which he raised over about 80 kanals of land has been cleared of trees. The clay is being dug out to construct new houses in the village. The Chinar under which he used to rest stands lonely, with its roots exposed. Gairoo Noorpora has lost the privilege of being the proud museum of the memorials of a great son and the people living there would better remember that such opportunities knock the door but once in a life time.

Blessed be the Bandhuji for having made us feel proud of being Kashmiris.
Cursed are we who could not live upto your expectations.

(Today is the 35th death anniversary of our great leader Pandit Kashyap Bandhu ji)

(The Author is a Former KAS officer,Social activist and Doctor by profession)

(Disclaimer: The views, observations and opinions expressed in above write up of Scoop News are strictly author's own. Scoop News does not take any onus or liability for the veracity, accuracy, validity, completeness, suitability of any of information in the above given write up. The information, facts or figures appearing in the write up in no way manifest the position, standpoint or stance of Scoop News and the Scoop News does not assume any encumbrance or answerability of the same. All disputes are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of competent Courts and Forums in Jammu City Only)

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