Amar Shaheed Sarwanand
Kaul Premi: A Profile
- Rajinder Premi
special article written on the occasion of Shri Premi's death anniversary.
Sarwanand Kaul Premi
The happenings in Jammu and Kashmir for the past some time need no
The forces of fundamentalism and fanaticism have not only ruined the fibre
of the secular character but have also been responsible for innumerable
innocent killings. The list is too large to be enumerated. And here is
a towering personality who had made z place in the hearts of all Kashmiris,
irrespective of their sectarian beliefs. He is Shaheed Sarwanand Kaul Premi,
a proud son of Kashmir.
in village Soaf Shali of Anantnag district in November 1924, he passed
the Master's degree in Hindi with Honours and started his career with the All-lndia SphlnersAssociation
(Khaddan Bhandar). Thus he got influenced
by the Gandhian philosophy and involved himself in the freedom movement.
He remained underground at the age of 17 during the Quit India movement
and later took active part in Quit Kashmir movement during 1946-47. He
worked on the Cultural Front, a counter, propaganda agency, to repulse
the Kabaili raid on Kashmir. He contributed to DAILY KHIDMAT, the of ficial
organ of the National Conterence, and WEEKLY DESH in Srinagar. Many of
his writings got censored during that period.
1948, he had to leave the Valley under very odd circumstances and got employed
in the Industries Department of the Punjab Government and then in the Central
Government at Delhi.
to the Valley in 1954, joined the Education Department of the State and
served it for 23s years. During these years, he developed keen interest
in social work which he advocated strongly through his writings. As a writer,
he attained fame when his writings came in the form of life stories of
saint-poetess Roopa Bhavani, a biography of saint-poet Mirza Kak and translation
of Sri mad Bhagwad Gita in Kashmiri verse. His other notable works include 'Kalam-e-Premi',
'Pyam-e-Premi', 'Rooda Jeri', 'Osh Vosh', 'Pantchasdar', 'Mahjoor ta Kasher', 'Kashmir ki
Beti', 'Russ) Padsha' Katha, prose translations
of Tagore's famous Gitanjali into Kashmiri. Among the Urdu, Kashmiri and
Hindi translations of Gita, only Urdu translation has been published. Other
translations are being published shortly. He has written a number of papers
which he read out in seminars and symposia, highlighting the cause of national
and international understanding.
a firm belief in secularism and up to the last he fully justified the remarks
of Mahatma Gandhi that if there is any ray of hope it existed in the Valley.
It was his strong advocacy of secularism and the State's accession to India
which may also have been a cause of anger among the subversives. He was
fearless in speaking out this publicly through local newspapers even in
the times of the emergence of terrorism in Kashmir.
of secularism was highlighted by him whenever the situation demanded. For
h~stance, he wielded his pen, when Sheikh Abdullah was arrested, in 1953,
missing of the holy relic in 1964, Pakistan's aggression in 1965 and 1971,
Kashmiri Pandit agitation in 1967 and in the 1968 Anantnag riots, when
militancy dawned in the Valley.
some Kashmiri Pandits were being selectively killed, he condemned this
publicly and through local papers knowing full well that the Valley was
gradually getting into the clutches of fundamentalistic elements. He did
not deviate from his love for communal harmony and brotherhood, for which
he was respected by all communities.
some of his friends and the family members requested him to leave the village
which was dominated by the majority community (his being the lone Hindu
family in that village), he would overrule and even rebuke by saying that
he was so deeply rooted in the secular traditions of the Valley and he
had most of his students and other friends in the area to take care of
him and his family.
deeply religious as well as liberal. He was widely respected in the area
as in his long career as a teacher he had illuminated many minds and given
them education - the most precious of all gifts. But the fact that the
world of his poetic beliefs and sensibilities had ceased to exist and old
loyalties and friendship had become powerless in the face of fierce assaults
mounted by the forces of fundamentalism and fanaticism dawned upon us and
the faith was ultimately shattered when on April 29, 1990, late in the
evening three young masked terrorists, like hungry wolves most anxious
to trap their prey, forced their entry into the house and let loose the
reign of terror. They asked the inmates at gunpoint to queue in one room,
with one gunman guarding its door. The other terrorists ransacked the entire
house and stretched their ugly hands on what-ever they could lay, looted
all their valuables after forcing the ladies to hand over their ornaments.
They ransacked the library and destroyed rare manuscripts. While plundering,
one militant shouted in surpirse: "Masha Allah, ye to Qurani Sharif he".
Shri Kaul had kept one copy of it reverentially in the library for his
incident came most shocking, since only that day some Muslim neighbours
had given full assurance of their help for protection. It was so because
Premi and declared so openly that he had no plans of abandoning the village
where he had fought for years together for the upliftment of the majority
community and has not done any harm to anybody.
packing the loot in suit-cases, they asked this noble soul to accompany
them to see their higher ups who, they said, were waiting outside. They
also asked Virindra (his son) to escort them up to the camp. They swore
in the name of Allah that no harm would be done to him and his son. Their
hand-folded requests had no effect on them. They carried both the father
and the son at gunpoint and after two days of painful anxiety came the
most tragic news of their assassination.
happened to a man who had kept a copy of the Quran in his books for regular
study, a freedom fighter, a humanist and a philantropist, an eminent scholar
social worker and a well-known Kashmiri poet contemporary of Mahjoor and Azad. A man who has worked voluntarily for 3 months each in private Muslim
and Hindu schools after his retirement as a love for children of both the
luminary was done to death by the terrorists in a most brutal manner along
with his son. In this backdrop, the family had to migrate, abandoning their
home and hearth then and there. It was for this reason that the rest of
the family members were threatened with dire consequences if they reported
the matter to the police. The family was told that no harm would come to
them if they could stay in their native village but if these two persons
would have gone anywhere, they were to be eliminated at any cost.
is most shocking and shameful that even after about 7 years, the criminals
have not been identified although there had been Press reports that the
government has made 8 arrests in this connection in early May 1990.
of looting the house first and then torching of ancestral house of these
victims was also published in the national dailies in December 1992. The
local temple had been desecrated and burnt; cowsheds also burnt, the other
houses ransacked. No information about the abandoned cattle, land, trees
and orchards has come to them. This is the state of their plight, pain
and agony, which has been suffered by all other Kashmiri families as well.