'Reading Room' was brainchild of Molvi Abdullah Vakil

Greater Kashmir

Apropos Mr. A.S. Querishi’s well-informed feedback in Greater Kashmir entitled “Exploring Reading Room”. I have to say that the meetings of the party were held in a room in the second house of Khwaja Saddr-ud-Din,  secretary, Anjuman-i-Ahmadiyya, Kashmir. This house exsists even today and is owned by the descendents of late Khwaja Sahib. I did see this house and room in I955 and even saw a wooden board in white paint on black background-Reading Room. The idea to establish the Reading Room was the brainchild of Molvi Abdullah Vakil, an Ahmadi Muslim and Khwaja Ghulam Ahmad Ashai, a Hanfi Muslim , the first M.A. youth of Kashmir. Its early members were:Qari Saif-uddin, Hakim Ali, Mufti Jalal-uddin, Pirzada Ghulam Rasool, Pirzada Ahmad Shah, Mr. Abdul Aziz Fazili, Hakim Ghulam Murtaza, Molvi Bashir Ahmad. Later other members like, Mr.Yahya Rafiqi, Hakim Ghulam Safdar, Mr. Mohammad Rajab, Gulam Nabi Gilkar, and others joined this group.The Reading Room members collected a sum of Rs.82/- for the first time and later  this group was supported financially by Maulana Assad Subhani of Calcutta.. In the third stage Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah joined the Reading Room Party. At that time they elected Mr. Mohammad Rajab as President and Shaikh Abdullah as Secretary. The members would obtain newspapers from outside Kashmir and write articles in Urdu and English. These articles were drafted by Molvi Abdullah Vakil, Hakim Ghulam Safdar and Khwaja Ghulam Ahmad. The activities of the Reading Room can be divided into two phases- one before Sheikh Abdullah joined it and the other when he resigned from the post of a teacher in Muzafarabad at the instance of Mian Bashi-ud-Din Mehmood, the head of Ahmadiyya Muslims. I remember that decades back, when I went to Orissa to attend an official conference, an Ahmadi Muslim of Bubenheswar, invited me to a dinner. In his house, I found a big library and he did show, many registers showing lists of Muslims, who donated clothes, food and money for the Kashmiri Muslim Sufferers. I know, Molvi Sayyid Masoodi and his brother had completed studies and Munshi Fazil at Ahmadi Madrasa, WQadian and it was Molvi Sayyid, who was a teacher in a Government School at Muzafarabad, took Sheikh Abdullah to meet Mian Bashir-ud-Din, Mehmood at Hazara who told Sheikh Sahib that his organization would give him a salary of Rs.200 per month if he serves the Muslims of Kashmir and also gave Rs.7 for maintaining an office. At that time, Sheikh Sahib was in receipt of Rs. 82 per month as school teacher. I am aware of the fact that a memorandum was prepared by the Reading Room Party in 1930 when Maharaja Hari Singh had gone to England, about the grievances of the Muslims and it was presented before the State Cabinet by Sheikh Abdullah, Mr. Mohammad Maqbool Pandit and Mr. Abdul Aziz Fazili. This act gave the Reading Room Party an official recognition. At that time, four Kashmiris, Assad ullah vakil, Abdul Rahim Baday, Mirza Ghulam Mustafa and Munshi Sharif-ud-Din pleaded that strong action should be taken against the signatures of the Reading Room Memorandum.
Professor Fida Hassnain
fidahassnain@myasa.net