Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

Milchar

Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

  Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

header
| Home | August-September 2003 Issue |

Milchar
August-September 2003 Issue

Table of Contents

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

  National Schools of Kashmir

 … J.N.Kachroo

An Institution with Mission

Introduction:

National School, Srinagar, an off-shot of its mother institution at Baramulla has been rendering valuable service to the community for the last 65 years. This write-up is an attempt to put on record the events leading to the birth of a school, its uniqueness, subsequent developments and survival of its branch at Srinagar.

A Conversion: In the twenties of the last century, the catholic missionaries had a small convent, a small dispensary, a school named St. Joseph’s High School at Baramulla (they are still there), ostensibly their activities were humanitarian. But an incident of conversion revealed their true intention. These service outlets were perceived to be centers of mass contact to further their ulterior objectives.

    One day in the summer of 1925, a young Kashmiri Pandit, (a cousin of my father), who was working as a teacher in St. Joseph’s High School went missing. Frantic enquiries about his whereabouts were made, but to no avail. The school authorities denied any knowledge. Soon it was discovered that a young lady, seen in the dispensary the previous day was also missing. The story was complete. Pandit Dinanath, a handsome youth had been converted to Christianity, married to a beautiful lady, Josephine by name and the couple surreptitiously smuggled out of the town in the wee hours of the summer day.

Reaction: The orthodox sections of the society, still mostly illiterate and ignorant were shocked. As if awake from a slumber, the people reacted sharply. The local Sanatan Dharam Sabha (S.D. Sabha), the only representative organisation of the sorts, passed a resolution condemning the incident, naming the missionaries as the agents of a colonial power. The Arya Samaj Sabha, Lahore, echoed its sentiments. The incident was reported in a section of Urdu Press at Lahore. The people responded to the call by the S.D. Sabha and observed a hartal. Some students of St. Joseph's High School boycotted their classes. This kind of protest is generally believed to be the first of it’s kind in Baramulla.

Repression: The British Resident at Srinagar smelt a rat. Had the Gandhian influence that was so visible in the neighboring Punjab in twenties, triggered the protest? Would this protest not spill over the borders into the Punjab? To nip the movement in the bud, the Resident motored into Baramulla and advised the administration i.e. the Wazir Wazarat (Present D.C.) to be tough. The district authorities obliged him, arrested the office bearers of S.D.Sabha and forced the shopkeepers to open their shops. The protesting students returned to their classes.

    The authorities of the St. Joseph’s School accused most of the Hindu teachers of instigating the students to go on strike. The group as a whole, about 8 to 10 in number, resigned or were coerced to resign.

Resentment: A wave of resentment and anger swept across the town. People, irrespective of caste, creed or religion rallied round the sacked teachers. They formed a group hereafter called the Core Group (C.G.), and organised their activities, first under the banner of S.D. Sabha, but later, with the support of all the sections of the population. Their activities chiefly centered round indoor meetings to garner more and more public support and collect the views of the more influential sections of the people. There were few meetings of eminent citizens. As per certain records of the S.D. Sabha, the unanimous opinion was that there was need of weaning the young from pernicious influence of the sweet tongued “Padrees” in white robes. The solution lay in having a full fledged school which could break the monopoly of the missionary school.

Situation Eased: in September 1925 Maharaja Pratap Singh died. The state was plunged in grief. The attention of the administration was diverted. Normal activities came to a halt. Raja Hari Singh had to succeed Pratap Singh. The would-be-ruler was considered to be liberal and more assertive than his predecessor. The members of the C.G. carried their activities more openly. The administration relented.

Preparation: Winter of 1925-26 was fruitfully utilized for making a blueprint of an educational institution. The C.G. was actively helped and guided by certain officers and officials, albeit covertly. Pandit Tota Koul, father of the well known diplomat T.N. Koul and Shivnath Koul, a conservator of forest, were the moving spirits behind the scene. Some respectable persons, including two lawyers, G.R. Raina and Sri Kanth Koul Vakil, son of legendary Saligram Koul, supported the C.G. overtly. The scenario that unfolded itself in April confirmed the success of their efforts.

Royal Permission: Raj Tilak of Maharaja Hari Singh was celebrated in March 1926. He announced his liberal educational policy. Taking an advantage of the situation, a petition for according permission to open a school at Baramulla and naming it in honour of the Maharaja was submitted immediately after his coronation. Within a week of his coronation, the new ruler was pleased to accord his royal assent to the request.

Managing Committee (M.C.): A temporary managing committee (M.C.) with Kh. Qadir Joo Kokru, Ziladar and landlord as President, Sardar Man Singh, an eminent landlord as VP and G.R. Raina as Secretary was formed. All the members of the C.G. were co-opted as members. Gobind Koul, an ex-headmaster of St. Joseph’s School, in its early stages, was named the Headmaster and all the members of the C.G. joined as teachers. A little later, three graduates and an undergraduate joined the C.G. All volunteered to work on honorary basis till funds became available.

Birth Of A School: A full-fledged high school, christened as 'Sri Hari Singh National School, Baramulla' was launched on the auspicious day of 14th April 1926. The inaugural function was largely attended. Donations on spot took care of certain initial expenses. The President M.C., kept two spaceous buildings, at the disposal of the school to start with. Taking a cue from the message of Pt. Tota Koul, praising the spirit of service and sacrifice of the concerned, the school adopted “Service and Sacrifice” as its motto and lived up to it.

Uniqueness: In 1925, Kashmir valley had four schools in Srinagar, besides St. Joseph’s School at Baramulla. Two of them were in government sector, while the other two CMS school and Islamia School in private sector. They were founded and managed by C.M. Society, London and Anjuman-I-Nusrat-ul-Islam respectively. But National School was the first ever non-denominational and non-proprietary educational institution. It was founded and managed by a M.C. comprising the workers (initially the C.G., steadily replaced by elected members) and eminent citizens, with executive powers in the hands of independent non-teaching members. This novel arrangement remains unparalleled and unchanged. This unique experiment has withstood the challenges of times.

Development 1926-1938: The period between 1926 to 1938 registered its all round development. On state gifted land, the school built a beautiful complex comprising three buildings, two hockey fields, a football ground and an agricultural farm. Feeder schools in the town, in Uri and Magam Tehsils and a hostel were also started. Almost all the junior teachers obtained teaching diplomas, while three graduates got their degrees in teaching. Results at the matriculation examination posed a challenge to its rival in the town. Its popularity became quotable. Its fame travelled beyond the district, the present Baramulla and Kupwara.

Srinagar School Opened: Banking on its reputation and also on government’s support, the M.C. opened a branch (full-fledged high school) at Srinagar in April 1938. D.N. Raina B.Sc. B.T. headed the school. J.N.Misri B.Sc. B.T. was appointed as Headmaster of Baramulla high school while S.L. Raina B.A. B.T. was designated as the Principal to look after the two high schools and all feeders etc. Pt. Balakak Dhar, Rais, landlord and Wazir Wazarat (D.C.) was the president M.C.

Loss Of Baramulla School: The government under the so called policy of 'Nationalisation of Private Schools' took over the Baramulla school, and its assets, moveable and immoveable, along with 25 qualified teachers on staff of both the schools in 1949-50. The M.C. was left to manage only the Srinagar School, registered afresh as National School, Srinagar.

Present Turmoil: The school survived many a storm in its journey, the present upheaval since 1990 being the worst. It was steered through this crisis by late S.K. Koul, as President M.C. till his death in 1998. Sh. Makhan Lal Dhar, a businessman and a neighbour succeeded him as president. G.M Rather associated with the school since 1984 has been the secretary of the M.C. Bashir Ahmed who joined the school service in late sixties bore the brunt of heading the school during the worst phase of the turmoil. Presently he functions as the administrator while Mtr. Hafiza M.A. B.Ed., an appointee of seventies, is the principal.

    The list of names of those who brought honour to themselves and fame to the school(s) is too long. They include leaders in all walks of life. Finally the Core Group (C.G.) consisted of A.N. Kuchroo, B.D. Koul, S.N. Pandita, D.N. Kokru, A.N. Bhat, N.L. Chalta, K.R. Bamoo, later joined by S.L. Raina, J.N. Misri, D.N. Raina and S.N. Raina. Kh. Qadir Joo Kokru resigned as president on health grounds, giving charge to S. Man Singh.

Pt. Gobind Koul acted as headmaster for a couple of months only and was replaced by S.L. Raina.  

(To be continued)

AN APPEAL

A word to the old students of National School, Baramulla / Srinagar.

I am one amongst you, having passed my matriculation through Baramulla School in 1938. In addition I had the unique opportunity of serving the Institution from Oct. 1942 to 1948 at Baramulla and thereafter up to Oct. 1986 at Srinagar (heading the School from 1969 till retirement). I know that you have attained excellence in your chosen careers and that you are dispersed across the globe. May I request you to come up with your present address, official/residential, your achievements, and if possible, your reminiscences of your formative years while within the portals of your Alma Mater. I am waiting for your response and also for certain information to complete and issue a detailed story of the Institution, which I have almost completed.

J.N.Kachroo

4-B/202, Whispering Palms, Lokhandwala Complex, Kandivli (East), Mumbai 400 101. Tel: 022-28865853. Cell: 9821021713.

Previous

Index

 

Related Sites

Information Digests

Panun Kashmir

Symbol of Unity


 


JOIN US

Facebook Account Follow us and get Koshur Updates Youtube.com Video clips Image Gallery