Pt. Amar Nath Muthoo: A Tribute to Grandfather
By Kuldeep Raina
PT. AMAR NATH MUTHOO, affectionately called by family
members as 'Lala' lived at Bulbul Lankar (Ali Kadal) in downtown
Srinagar. He was
born to Pt. Damodar Muthoo and Smt. Vishmal.
Pt. Amarnath Muthoo in
early years of his service at Anantnag
Amar Nath had one
brother-Pt. Shankar Nath and three sisters, married in Budgami, Taploo and
Rangroo families. He was married to Kamla alias Kakni, daughter of Pt. Amarchand
Tikoo of Peth Kanihama.
Amar Nath was
serving as SHO Kulgam in July, 1947 when he was promoted and transferred to
Askardu as SHO with the rank of Sub-Inspector. His two close relations-brother
Shankar Nath and wife's brother Sh. Gopi Nath Tiku too served in State Police.
The former remained constable only while the latter retired as SHO.
Pt. Amar Nath was
a man of great taste and lived in style. He loved Bacchus and quite often held
Sufiana mehfils at his place. His aristorcratic style of living and the
authority he wielded earned for him the sobriquet of 'Hakim Sab'. My grandfather
(Nana) enjoyed close friendship with Pt. Dina Nath alias 'Dina Patel' and Kh.
Saifuddin, who later retired as DIG. Sometime before grandfather had served at
Muzaffarabad also. There was a group clash. He had slapped one of the trouble
makers who was quite sick. Though the latter died a natural death, yet a case
was slapped against Pt. Amar Nath. An enquiry was ordered, DIG
Kashmir was to visit Muzaffarabad in this connection.
'Dina Patel' was Traffic Inspector in Muzaffarabad. Amar Nath asked for help
from his friend 'Dina Patel'. The day DIG left for Muzaffarabad Patel manoeuvred
to stop traffic at Domel bridge. DIG could not come for enquiry. Meanwhile, Amar
Nath was able to convince the aggrieved family that victim had died a natural
death. The matter was subsequently closed.
Amar Nath had six daughters but no son. He
reared his children like boys, keeping male names for them. His brother's wife
had died young, leaving behind a son and daughter. It was on Lala's insistence
that the son Kashi Nath was sent to college. He subsequently joined Army,
retiring as Major.
How my grandfather was killed has remained a mystery to the family.
Shortly before his death he wrote identical letters to his brother and Sh. Gopi
Nath Tiku. In these he had written, 'I am under siege. It is difficult to survive. If I live I will manage
to reach home whatever difficult the terrain might be'. He had
also impressed upon his brother that his daughters should be made to eat food in
the Thali (plate) in which he used to take his food. Amarnath's eldest daughter
in 1947 was 12 years old, while the youngest was only 6 months. Amar Nath had
also written, 'my wife likes Kahwa.
She should not have to worry about Sugar. Keep it in plenty for her'.
Through the letters the family came to know that things were bad in Askardu but
at the same time Lala was safe.
Amar Nath as SHO Askardu had the responsibility to take care of
treasury at the Fort. It is said Pakistanis were looking for namesake of my
grandfather who was probably treasury officer. As per one version grandfather
was dragged, nails were thrust into his body and he was mercilessly killed.
Another version claims that Amar Nath was abducted and held captive. It is said
that he later subsequently started his business in Askardu. Amar Nath was just
34 in 1948.
My grandmother Kakni could never come out of shock. Going to Pirs
and Faqirs became a daily routine. She would sit often at the window of brerkani
(attic) and mutter to herself 'ya yim nata
nim' (Either come or take me also). One day when Labroo family in
the neighbourhood had called Nandbab to their home Kakni also went there. The
occasion was safe return of Pt. Sham Lal Labroo who too was held captive in
Muzaffarabad. When Kakni bowed before Nandbab he gave her two-rupee note. It was
unusual and was interpreted as hint to her not to come again. 6 months later she
Soon after grandfather's martyrdom Kothi Bagh Police Station had
received a wireless message from Col. PN Kak about his death. It was through Pt.
Amar Nath Taploo (sister's husband) the family learnt about the killing.
Grandfather's close friend Kh. Saifuddin helped the family sort out Insurance
claim within no time. Amar Nath's six daughters were brought up under the
affectionate care of Sh. Shankar Nath and Sh. Gopi Nath Tiku.
*(The author is Gen. Secretary Panun Kashmir)