Kashyap Bandhu - Through My Eyes
by Arjan Dev Majboor
Kashmiri Pandits have produced a galaxy of
saints, writers, leaders and administrators, Sh. Bandhu ji is one of these
luminaries. I have written about his early life and social reform movement in
an Article in the Hindi section of the special issue of 'VITASTA', Calcutta
brought out in his memory.
I would like to deal with his attainments in the field of journalism and his
success and drawbacks in the field of politics in this piece.
In one of the issues of the famous Urdu Newspaper 'RANBIR' Sh. Mulk Rai
Saraf, the fore-runner of journalism in J&K State says :-
"The pen of Kashyap Bandhu has shown its might I hope that he will achieve
heights in the field of journalism in future".
Sh. Bandhu started writing when he was at Lahore. Lahore shaped him as a
journalist and he remained connected with the Editorial Boards of the AKHBARI-AM",
"AKHBARI KASHMIRI" and "BAHARI-KASHMIR", all Urdu papers. In the thirties of
20th century Sh. Bandhu was called to Kashmir by youth leaders of 'Yuvak Sabha'
which later was named as-'Sanatan Dharma Yuvak Sabha'. Martand, the Urdu daily
was started on lst Feb.1931. Professor Abdul Qadir Sarwari, well known Urdu
writer and author says in his book 'KASHMIR MAIN URDU.'-
"Martand" is among the oldest newspapers of the valley. It was published
from 1931 to 1969 regularly, Kashyap Bandhu was the first Editor of "Martand'.
At Srinagar I have seen that this paper used to reach its subscribers early in
the morning and was read with interest. "Martand", name was suggested by Sh.
Gwasha Lal Koul. This paper published a weekly Adabi (Literary) edition also.
According to famous Kashmiri poet Abdul Ahad Azad's Book -'KASHMIRI ZABAAN AUR
SHAYIRI", Professor Devender Sateyarthi, a prominent folklorist wrote about
famous Kashmiri Poet MAHJOOR, in the issue of 20th Magha 1991 (Bikrami) of the
Martand. "Mahjoor's Persian poem - "Guli Veerana"-was published on 27th of Magh
1991 (1931 C.A.) in this paper. It is note-worthy that Professor Sarwari while
writing his book- "Kashmir Main Urdu" - went for several months to Sheetalnath
to study the old files of the daily Martand. While writing another book "Tareekhi
Adbiyati-Kashmir", which remained incomplete, Professor Sarwari says that he has
been benefitted by the files of "Martand" while collecting material for his
book. Professor Sarwari further says :- "The contribution of the Martand is
much more than other papers of the valley". According to Dr. Brij Premi,
Sarwari met Sh. Kashyap Bandhu also in connection with his research work on
literary history of Kashmir. This shows the capability of Bandhu Ji in
establishing journalism in Kashmir. The editorials written by him were
humourous as well as striking. Besides editorials, Bandhu Ji wrote "Chalant"
and "Paagal Ki Diary" for a long period. Both these columns created waves among
the readers. "Chalant" was a serious column and "Paagal Ki Diary", a humourous
one. One of the topics of Chalant, for example was - "Banami Shukur Devta
Northern District" - In this column Sh. Bandhu in a humourous way flays the
Waziri Wazarat of Northern Division of the valley of Kashmir. He demands
explanation from the official for not solving the common problems of the people.
After establishing "Martand" as a newspaper of importance Sh. Bandhu left
it. This was due to his resignation from "Yuvak Sabha". The headline of the
editorial of that day when he left Martand was "Tabdeeliay Qalb" (Change of
Sh. Bandhu continued his journalistic pursuits and started the weekly "KESRI".
Now he was quite free to show his forceful pen. He wrote freely against the
establishment. Under the orders of Maharaja Hari Singh the publication of this
famous paper was stopped in 1938. Sh. Bandhu did not stop, he started another
weekly The "DESH" (Urdu). This weekly became popular throughout the State. The
paper while highlighting the problems of common Kashmiris, wrote forceful
editorials against the feudal rulers and the bureaucracy without any fear. I
have personally seen Sh. Bandhu Ji on his desk in the office of the "Desh" at
Aga Hamam in Srinagar. He would attend his office in a Khadi Kurta and Dhoti.
He wore big black rimmed spectacles and looked like a leader. Some of the
Editorials of the prestigious weekly 'DESH' are as follows
1. Mohtarimoon Ki conference' (The conference of the respected)
2. The Land to the Tiller (Zameen Kisan Di)
3. K. C. S. Umedwaroon Kay Liay guess paper (A guess paper for the candidates
of the K. C. S. candidates)
4. What is socialism?
Sh Bandhu joined National Conference after some time.He remained Editor of
the daily "Khidmat" for a short period also.
While heralding various movements Sh. Bandu was jailed many times by the
then Government. The account of his being put behind bars is as follows
1. At Lahore he was jailed in connection with the "Sanders case".
2. In Roti agitation, which started at Jammu and Srinagar simultaneously,
Bandhu was kept in jail from 1933 to 1934.
3. In 1946 he was arrested for taking active part in "Quit Kashmir Movement"
but was released in 1947. The total period of his being in prison comes to 10
Famous journalist Shri G. M. Sofi writes in an issue of "Srinagar Times"
"Sh. Bandhu remained in jail for eight years durings the period from 1931 to
1961. He remained in jail with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in Bhadarwah, Riyasi
and Udhampur too.'
Bandhu had a typical character. He was against feudal autocracy. He enjoyed
simple life. His ideas were secular and he did not tolerate corrupt officers.
When he became the Director General of "Dehat Sudhar Department"of J & K Govt,
he introduced "Hal Sheeri", (Self help movement in the villages.)
As Director General of Dehat Sudhar Department he got built many roads like
"Shopian Ahrabal Road, Nowpora Baba Rishi Road" and the roads leading to "Deb-Aakoora",
"Toolamula" and 'Ganderbal". He also established some horticulture nurseries.
In 1964 Sh. Kashyp Bandhu was appointed as Project Officer Sonawari in North
Kashmir by the Sadiq Government. He completed the project in due course of time
and this low land area which was prone to floods was made flood free and the
yield of this area was doubled.
Bandhu ji could not spend a peaceful marital life. He remained generally
away from his family. I have never seen his wife or his son with him. They
rarely came to their home at Geeru.
His wife was posted at Jammu. I don't know the reasons behind their
separation and , who was responsible for this between the couple.
Kashyap Bandhu could not do much in-the field of politics when he took to
Government service. He was a leader and a journalist and ought to have
contributed in these areas -only. Loyalties changed in the National
Conference. This Organisation could not fulfil the promises made in the
document of 'Naya Kashmir". There was no change in the working of bureaucratic
set-up, which hampered the pace of the development of the state. The gangs
created by some leaders made people angry and they remained off the movement.
Corruption was high, especially during the period when Sheikh Abdullah took the
reins of the state for the second time.
According to 10th February 1999 issue of 'Srinagar Times' when Bandhu Ji was
asked about the power tussle of 1953, he said :-
"Upto 1948 all leaders of National Conference remained united; when power
came into the hands of this organisation, the groupism started, which weakened
the Movement. According to Bandhu Ji the Centre too was responsible for
breaking the unity of the National Conference.
When Bandhu Ji retired from the post of the Project Officer, he never wished
to come in power again. Whenever I met him he would complain about the
functioning of the political system in the state. He hated officials who
fleeced the poor people. At a later stage he was disillusioned. He would talk
to a Congressman in one tone and to a National Conference man in a different
During his last years of life he devoted his whole time to reading and
writing. He remembered hundreds of Urdu couplets, which he would use at proper
occasion. His memory was sharp. He was proud of Indian culture especially of
the Vedic Age.
I have seen him brooding and thinking on his bed in front of a table. He
would hardly move out except for basking in the sun. He was pained to see
communal clashes raising their ugly head in various parts of the country.
Common people came to him; anyone who approached him for a recommendation was
given a letter addressed to the concerned person. He took his meals at 8 p.m.
in the evening. He was not fond of taking much tea. He relished milk, cheese
and some sweets. Sh. Jagar Nath of Geeru used to get a thali of rice and
vegetables for him, cooked from his own kitchen or from the kitchen adjacent to
his sitting room. Sh. M. L. Bhat, Asstt. Registrar Co-operative Society
Pulwama attended on Bandhu Ji for the last three years but at the time of Bandhu
ji's death, he too was away.
Bandhu Ji had a couple of cows. He had engaged a villager to feed them.
Milk and curds were always available at his place. He hardly attended feasts
and parties. He reportedly wrote a history of his times which could unveil the
ugly face of some politicians, if published. God knows as to who took the book
after Bandhu Ji passed away. It is being said that the book was taken by his
son and he was advised not to publish the book as it would give rise to
controversies. I can't say whether it was true.
The tiger brand leader and journlist was now jailed in his own house. He was
not in a happy mood always. Whenever I put him some questions, he would open
his heart and talk without reservation for hours together. He even talked about
one or two of his love affairs to me. He was beaten up by his own community
people when he took an egg at a shop in his boyhood in their presence. These
were the times in which he was brought up.
In his last years of life I have sometimes seen him living alone in his huge
house. I even wrote to him as to how he lived lonely, while he had always a
busy life during his earlier age. Like a freedom fighter he fought loneliness
and tension. He was happy to receive any person who called upon him. His
brother-in-law Sh. Gobind joo Razdan once told me that Bandhu Ji has written
his autobiography and has kept a good sum for its publication. This could
reveal many hidden comers of his life and the times he lived in. But the book
did not come out. Nobody knows what happened to this book.
I sometimes wrote to him from my home in Kashmir and he would positively
respond. On 23rd of March, 1979 he wrote a letter to me. The letter is
important as it sheds light on his correct date of birth. The letter runs as
Geeru 23rd of March, 1979.
Dear Brother, May God bless you.
Tomorrow is my birthday. This is to say that I shall
complete eighty years of my life and shall step up in eighty first year.
"ZINDAGI TERAY LIAY MAIN NAY BAHUT RAQS KIYA,
ABH YEH HASRAT HAI KABHI TUJ KO NACHA KAY DEKHOON."
'O life I danced for you a lot, now I want to see you dancing for sometime.'
Your letter in which you had written about the sad demise of your mother,
reached me in time. While reading the letter, I thought for long. I felt that
100 to 110 years back two families were tied in a chain. I still remember my
childhood when this chain was quite strong. The chain would jingle with a small
push, thus there was some restlessness in the atmosphere. The jingling of the
chain would effect the atmosphere for a long time. Then a time came when only
the chain would jingle but the push was so weak that it lost its sound.
At last the chain did not appear. Your mother was the last link of this
chain, which was tied to our home : See that chain too has broken. I have heard
my mother saying :-
'I was the daughter from that very home (Zainapora) I was the sister from
that very home. I was some one of this very home."
My brother and his wife had been out of the state in December, when I read
out your letter to them, they saw towards me with an empty mind and empty eyes.
This has happened with the times. A forgotten story! A tasteless old book!
Perhaps, some-time my mother would have said:-
"YAAD AAEINGAY ZAMANAY KAY
MASHOQOON KAY LIAY
JAISAY FARSOODA KITABEAN
NOWJAWANOON KAY LIAY."
"The times will be remembered by those who see towards it keenly, like the
useless books for the young." I could'nt write to you in time. Cold weakness,
old age; all have crippled me. There is some warmth for the past two days. I
am sitting in the Sun. I have to reply a bundle of twenty letters. The bundle
is open and I am replying. What about your health? May God bless you.
In a letter in reply to one of my letters which reached him after a long time
though the distance between Geeru and Zainapora is twenty Kilometers only. He
wrote further that:
"The letter was delivered late to me, as every work is done at ease in this
country after independence. So the letters are also received late.
In another letter he advised me to come to him alon with my poems so that he
could listen to these, for some time. He had also written to get my longer poem
with me, which I had written in 1985.
On 18th December, 1985 when he was working as usual, his servant came and
told him that his cows were not taking grass. He replied, "Now they won't eat
it"; perhaps he wanted to say that their master was leaving the world this very
day. In the evening at 8 p.m. this renowned journalist and leader of repute
breathed his last at Geeru.
In the annals of Kashmir journalism and political history, Bandhu ji will be
remembered for years to come. The coming generations will also remember him