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Uninterrupted efforts can pull down the strongest walls

The journalists of Kashmir liquefied the brutal hearts by their colossal efforts

Arif Masoodi

The journalism of Kashmir witnessed many ups and downs but ultimately it succeeded in hosting its flag on the soil of Kashmir. The journalism of Kashmir owes great debt to many journalists who played a great role in setting up the press in the valley. It emerged in an age in which every were the destituteness of people was realized. The people were harassed by using different barbarous methods by the then rulers. The journalism although had completed almost hundred years in India and was prevalent in every state of India except this beautiful but unfortunate Kashmir. Excited by the journalist activities of many neighboring states the people of Kashmir demanded to the Dogra rulers the permission for establishment of press in the valley, but they were not permitted to publish newspapers by the Dogras for keeping curtain on their inhuman activities’ but the people of Kashmir continued their efforts ultimately Maharaja Ranbir Singh was compelled to set “Videya Blas” press in the valley in 1858. Initially “Videya Bilas” was meant for translating the literature of “Darul Tarjuma” but due to the pressure of people the maharaja conceded the right to publish newspaper from “videya bilas” and the first newspaper of state “Bidya Bilas” was published from Jammu. It was an official newspaper and it was published in 1866 and its first editor was pundit Goopi Nath Gurtu. It was published in Urdu and Nagri langauages. This newspaper could not won the hearts of people because only those news’s were published in this newspaper which suited the rulers. This newspaper was also banned after sometime. On the other hand the journalists who had seen the activities of journalism in other parts of India especially Lahore and Punjab were keen to establish press in the valley free from government Control. The journalists after being dissatisfied with the attitude of Maharaja who didn’t granted them the right to publish newspapers in the valley approached different regions especially Lahore and Sialkot and issued newspapers from there. These newspapers were often compiled in Kashmir but were subsequently sent to Lahore for their publication. In this regard the efforts of pundit Salgram Salik and Her Gopal Khasta are praiseworthy. They did a great job in this regard and helped in the publication of newspapers from Lahore. They sought permission from maharaja but when their requests were not accepted they started newspapers from Lahore and Punjab. Pundit Gopi Nath Gurtu who was the first editor of “Bidya Bilas” went to Lahore after the restrictions were imposed on the publication of “Bidya Bilas” and issued “Akber Aam” from there in association with his son Bal Krishna Gurtu this was a weekly newspaper in its inception but was converted into daily newspaper in 1881. This newspaper continued till 1938. One more important newspaper of Kashmiri pundits was “Minask Kashmir” it was also published from Lahore. Pundit Her Gopal Khasta issued “Khar Khawa Kashmir” in 1882, it was a weekly newspaper. In this epoch the two brothers Her Gopal Khasta and Salgram Salik were living in Kashmir but due to their political and religious activities they were banished from the valley. They issued this newspaper for criticizing the government of Maharaja Pratab Singh. But this could not survive for long and it was stopped in one year. Pundit Her Gopal Khasta also issued a weekly newspaper “Ravi Benazeer” from Lahore. In addition to this he issued “public news”. One more important newspaper which was published from Lahore was “Rafeeq Hindustan”. It was started in 1885 and different news’s of Kashmir were highlighted in this period. The Kashmiri pundits who were the educated section of Kashmir started the race of journalism in Kashmir for their self interests. The Muslims of Kashmir excited by the activities of pundits also started doing something in this direction. The Muslims started their first newspaper in 1885. It was published in Urdu under the ownership of Babu Gulam Mohd. He was the supporter of Maharaja Pratab Singh. In this newspaper the British government was criticized for establishing residency in the valley.
Lukh Raaj Saraf who was also an important journalist of the age requested to the maharaja in 1921 for establishing press in the state but his requests were not entertained by the Maharaja. But he continued his efforts and again requested to the Maharaja in 1922 but his requests again did not fructified. Finally in 1924 his requests were accepted and he was permitted to publish the newspaper and he issued the second newspaper of the state “Ranbir”. This was the second newspaper of the state but the first of the sought in which the writers expressed their opinion without hesitation. “Ranbir” was started on 24 June 1924 from Jammu region. Saraf has written in his autobiography “fifty years Aazaya Journalism” he has furnished information with regard to his life carrier. In the first issues of “Ranbir” educational progress, social welfare, freedom from rural indebtness and educational progress were given space.

           The race of journalism in Srinagar started from 1922. The efforts in this direction were made by Prem Nath Bazaz who belonged to the Hindu section of society. He played a great role for the establishment of press in the valley. He was born in 1908  in Srinagar in a Brahman family. He started his education in Srinagar but latter on went to Punjab for completing his education. He completed his graduation in 1927, after completing his graduation he took interest in the lives of masses. In 1931 he was appointed as the member of the Glancy commission for looking into the grievances of the people. In 1932 he stepped into journalism and started the first newspaper “Witasta” of the valley. The purpose of the newspaper was to advocate the importance of the secular state and the democratic form of the government.  It was a weekly newspaper and it enjoyed great reputation in Kashmir it was stopped after sometime due the fact that it published opinions free of goverment Control. In 1935 he published “Hamdard” another famous newspaper of the age. He is considered to be the father of journalism in Kashmir. In 1944 when “witasta” was started for the second time he converted it into a Hindi newspaper. Bazaz is also the author of many English and Urdu newspapers, magazines and books. He also published many articles in varied newspapers such as “Kashmir ka Gandhi” which is about the life of Sheikh Mohd Abdullah better known as “sher Kashmir.”

Despite belonging to the minor and the benefited section of the society he emerged as the freedom fighter of Kashmir valley. He threw a lot for liberating the valley of Kashmir from the brutal rule. He was arrested in 1938 for supporting the freedom movement. He was acquitted after sometime and rearrested in 1947 and released after three years. He was banished from Kashmir in 1951 and he settled in Delhi and started from there “voice of Kashmir” which was the famous newspaper of the then times.
Maulana Mohd Sayeed Masoodi was another magical journalist of the age. Maulana belonged to the educated section of the Muslim society. His father was a farmer and was versed with his religion. He was well versed with Persian language. Maulana Mohd Sayeed was born in 1913 in Muzaferabad and his family came to Kashmir and settled in Warnow Lolab Kupwara. His mother belonged to the family who were acquainted with the Arabic language. Maulana received his initial education from his mother and then went to Lahore for further education. He was admitted in oriental college and he passed from there the degree of maulvi fasil and learned tafseer. He also received education from Ahmad ali, after completing his education he was appointed as a teacher in the Muzaferabad high school. He also taught in Rainawari high school located in Srinager. He also worked as a lecturer in the Prince of Wales college Jammu for one year and taught in s.p college Srinagar for some time.
Maulana Mohd sayeed Masoodi worked with “Hamdard”, “Sadakat” and “Haqeeqat”. He himself issued “Khidmat” which was an important newspaper of the period. He attracted the attention of every one with his writing skill and it earned for him name and fame. It was issued in 1935 and its editor in 1943 was Gulam Rasool Arif. It initially was a weekly newspaper and latter on was converted to a daily newspaper.

Maulana was also interested in politics. He remained the leader of muslim conference through the editorship of “sadakat” . in 1935 “Hamdard” became the leading newspaper of Muslim conference and he managed the business of the newspaper in collaboration with Mir Gulam Hassan Beigh Arif.
Maulana Mohd Sayid sometimes used the pseudonym Rajool Wasoo in some articles for escaping the scourge of brutal rule. He was also fond of poetry but never wrote it he also used to recite odes in Farsi but he did not preserved these odes, what ever was preserved in S.P. College is available to us in fragments.
Maualna was the secretary of national conference, during this time he published the magazine “aayini Kashmir” . He also wrote the national song of Kashmir which he was supposed to recite in the conference held at Baramullah, he was requested for doing so by sher Kashmir.
After the publication of these newspapers the newspapers were issued on a large scale and “Jahagir”, “Marthand” and Khalid e.t.c. emerged on the scene.