March-April 2004 issue
of the Vinod Sur Shringar Music Academy
at the Annual Cultural Nite at Rang Sharda, Bandra
National Schools of Kashmir
… J. N. Kachroo
An Institution with a Mission - 4
1 | Part 2 |
A Midnight Torpedo:
meeting with the Chief Minister, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, in his assembly chambers in summer 1983, proved a turning point in the struggle of the school. Those present in the meeting included late
P.L.Handoo, Revenue Minister, Mohd. Shafi, the Education Minister and some officials. The school was represented by late S.K.Kaul and me. Mr.Shafi
Shaida, who was incidentally around agreed to stay at our request.
Dr. Farooq Abdullah was frank enough to tell me “not as the C.M., but as a friend of the school” that he would not like the school to be run in the premises as the financial stake of the owners was large. I pleaded that it would not be in the public interests to shift the school from the area. The Education Minister strongly supported me, but to no avail. Finally late
S.K. Kaul succeeded in giving an official colour to the meeting. He offered the willingness of the school to vacate the premises only if the
C.M. allotted a suitable site, to be identified by the school. The suggestion was accepted. The Revenue Minister and the Principal (of National School) were entrusted with the job of identifying a suitable site and taking further action.
The school had already identified a big chunk of land. Its lease had been terminated a little earlier. The site was visited by the
R.M. accompanied by some officials and the Principal. The freehold status of the site was confirmed by the Director of Land Records. The official procedure was started at the instance of the
R.M., ostensibly with agreement of the C.M. The dedication with which Bashir Ahmed followed the movement of the file from table to table for four months, first at Srinagar and then at Jammu, where I joined him for about six weeks, is praiseworthy. The Revenue Minister was being constantly informed.
On 31st December 1983, at about 9 p.m. I was informed telephonically that the
C.M. would formally handover the possession of the allotted land next morning. The D.C. had been informed. I was advised to contact him. The D.C., when contacted confirmed the message and advised me to come for the handing over ceremony next day at 10.a.m.
Reaching the site at about 9 a.m., we were delighted to see a team of revenue officials demarcating the boundary of about 8.5 kanals of land from a large piece of land formerly known “Hadow Mills”, next to the Govt. Woollen Mills, just opposite Karan Nagar post office. Soon a crowd assembled including some teachers whom I could inform, to take part in the “Ceremony”. A disappointing news was whispered into my ear by a revenue officer, an old student of the school. Some powerful bureaucrats had met at the residence of a Senior Physician who had conveyed to the
C.M. disagreement with the decision. Soon a fleet of cars, bringing the
C.M., the R.M. and district officers, arrived.
The physician received the C.M. and took him aside. After about fifteen minutes, the
C.M. accompanied by the officials came back only to inform me his inability to transfer the land to the school, as the students would be exposed to infections because of the nearness of the hospital. However, he advised us to occupy a private building
(Dewans building) just opposite the hospital gate. It was only an illusion. The expected ceremony ended in a drama.
Pretending concern for the school, the villain of the piece advised us to seek help from Delhi. It was the unkindest cut of all !
With gratitude for those who stood by, especially young children who suffered silently, I retired on October 6,1986, with two satisfactions:
1. The school was re-housed in its own building.
2. The new Principal M.K.Dhar, an old student, colleague and a relation of late S.D.Dhar was no stranger to school tradition.
1. Note: Pt. Maheshwar Nath Wokhlu was also one of the founder teachers.
2. Corrigendum: Please read 'one M.A., M.Ed' for 'M. A., B Ed' In line no. 3, page 24 of Milchar Jan-Feb.2004 issue.