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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir

Milchar

Symbol of Unity

 
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KPs' Organizations and AIKS

By Dr. B.N. Sharga

There was no concept of forming a caste based organization till the beginning of the 19th century. There were three important centres of Kashmiri Pandits’ population outside Kashmir at that time. They were Bazaar Sita Ram of Delhi, which came into existence during the Mughal rule, Kashmiri Mohalla of Lucknow which came into existence between 1775 and 1778 during the rule of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula in Oudh and Vachchuwali of Lahore, which came into existence during the reign of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh in Punjab. Out of these three Kashmiri Mohalla of Lucknow was the biggest colony of Kashmiri Pandits outside Kashmir in northern India, where according to a rough estimate about 1000 Kashmiri Pandit families used to live at that time and a good majority of Kashmiri Pandits were either courtiers or big jagirdars and so were financially very sound.

 

First meeting of AIKS held at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh in 1980.

First meeting of AIKS held at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh in 1980.

 

When the British annexed Oudh and Lord Canning read out the proclamation of Queen Victoria of England on 1st November 1858 from the ramparts of Allahabad Fort, the Kashmiri Pandits of Lucknow felt the need to protect their cultural identity and to strengthen the community bonds. To achieve that objective and to bring all the community members on one platform they started organizing an annual caste festival Rishi Peer Ka Jaag in the month of Savan according to Hindu calendar in memory of a great 17th century saint of Kashmir.

 

Pt. Sheo Narain Bahar was the first person who mooted the idea of forming a caste based organization. As he was the first Indian to become a deputy inspector of schools in the British period so he used to command a great respect among the community members as well as the society at large in Oudh. Due to his hard work and untirring efforts the first community organization known as Jalsa-e-Tehzeeb came into existence on 9th February 1868 and the publication of the first community magazine Mursala-e-Kashmir was started in 1871.

 

As a corollary to all this a body of Kashmiri Pandits at the national level known as Kashmiri Pandits’ National Club came into existence and its first convention was organized with great fanfare on a grand scale in the historic Ganju walon Ka Shadikhana at Kashmiri Mohalla, Lucknow in 1882.

 

In 1884, a K.P. youth Bishan Narain Dar went to England against the wishes of the community members as sea voyage was considered to be an unpardonable sin in that period. He was not only ex-communicated but a division of the community also took place into Dharam Sabha and Bishan Sabha which jeopardized the efforts of forming a strong organization at the national level.

 

The Kashmiri Pandits of Lahore then took the lead and Pt. Maharaj Krishna Kaul Ghamkhwar then through the community journal Safeer-e-Kashmir announced the formation of Kashmiri National Association in 1891 with Raja Narendra Nath Raina Chhijballi as its Chairman to make it acceptable among the majority of the community members. But somehow it could not get the good support from the community members living in other parts of the country.

 

Then around 1905 the famous Urdu poet of Lucknow Pt. Brij Narain Chakbast formed the Kashmiri Youngmen’s Association to guide the young boys of the community. It was formally inaugurated by Dr. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru in 1907 with a library. But it was closed down in 1918 after the migration of Pt. Brij Narain Chakbast from Kashmiri Mohalla to Golaganj a locality which was near to his work place.

 

Kashmiri Samaj Allahabad was formed in 1975 with Mrs. Rajan Nehru as its founder President. In 1979 Justice Pratap Narain Bakshi became its President and Pt. Omkar Nath Sharga became its secretary respectively. Sometime in the month of September 1979 they paid a courtesy call to Prof. Uma Shanker Kochak’s residence who was head, department of Music of the Allahabad University where Pt. Prabhat Hukku was also present. Incidentally all had their roots in Lucknow. There over a cup of tea and light snacks these four persons floated the idea to form a body at the national level to bring about cultural unification of the community, to curtail the wasteful expenditure on marriages and to check the growing menace of inter caste marriages in the community.

 

Both Justice P.N. Bakshi and Pt. O.N. Sharga worked very hard and burnt a lot of midnight oil to give a concrete shape to this idea. They extended invitation to all the Kashmiri Pandits’ outfits in the country to come over to Allahabad for a thread bare discussion over important issues facing the community. Consequently a two day convention was held on 8th and 9th March 1980 at the residence of Justice Shiv Nath Katju on 25, Edmonstone Road where AIKS was formally launched and Justice P.N. Bakshi and Pt. O.N. Sharga were unanimously elected as its founder President and general secretary respectively. Pt. Jyoti Mushran became its founder treasurer. The rest is history and according to Plato history is never absolute it is always rewritten.

 

Kashmiri Writers B.N. Sharga
 

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