Munshi Ghulam Hassan

The concept of human life and death is elaborately explained in the Holy Quran.  Allah, in Surah (Al-Mulk) verses 01 and 02 has laid down the attributes which a human being is required to possess in the following verses.

“Blessed is He in whose hand lies Sovereignty … Who created death and life that He may try you as to which of you is most virtuous in deed …… .”

Exegetists have interpreted word ‘deed’ that it is mostly related to “Haqooq ul ibbad”(a human beings duties, responsibilities and rights towards his other fellow beings).  That most of those people are blessed in the eyes of Allah who are beneficial to humanity at large and particularly to Ummah. In spite of the dearth of such people among us, Allah never deprives the human society of such noble souls. In our society there are indeed such souls who dedicate their lives for the betterment of society, identify the ills which has seeped into the very vitals of the society and endeavor for the betterment of the society in one way or the other. The services and duties done by such people, indeed have to be guided without any personal interest or worldly reward. Intention has to be to do something for people just to earn Allah’s pleasure.  Few days ago one such person passed away. His name is Late Munshi Ghulam Hassan who had held several positions as an Income Tax Authority under the J&K Government on deputation as well as Central Government.  He was drafted in J&K state Government as Sales Tax Commissioner, Chairman, J&K State Subordinate Services Commission, and lastly Chairman Jammu Kashmir Bank.

How I came to know this great personality is an interesting story. 

It was Sept /Oct 1978, I, along with my 1977 IRS lovely batch mates, was on Bharat Darshan. We reached Tamil Nadu’s famous tourist spot Kanya Kumari or Coimbatore. We were out on site seeing that our Deputy Director training late Sh RN Puri greeted an elderly fellow tourist, a senior rtd. Commissioner of income tax. He was feeling nostalgic about his days in one of the India’s premier Service-Indian Revenue Service. He was introduced to probationers of 1977 batch. When I was introduced to him, the retired Commissioner remarked “oh you are from Kashmir. We had a fine, efficient and high on integrity officer Mr. Ghulam Hassan from Kashmir.” I was thrilled and elated to find such a glorifying description of an officer from Kashmir. Shortly after Bharat Darshan, part of our training programme, we were posted in the field. The love for my recognition (JK) made me to request my department to post me to Jammu and Kashmir. Allah has always granted my supplications. I was posted to Jammu in Nov 1978. Shortly after some time I found late Hassan  Sb visiting my office at transport yard Jammu with his sincere and fine friend – Late Sh Baldev Khular of Usha Fans fame. Sh Khular, like a true secularist Late Bhasin sb, passed away last year at a ripe age like Marhoom Ghulam Hassan sb. He continued his selfless friendship with me till his death. When Marhoom Hassan sb entered my office room, I found a radiant glow on his face. This was obvious that he was happy to note that a first Kashmiri Muslim direct recruit had entered in his parent service. Hassan sb had entered JK Govt. Service before 53. During those days Income Tax  and Audit and Account Services were with the J&K state on account of agreements which late Maharaja Hari Singh  had entered into with the State of India  after ensuring  that Indian State   got only  a few subjects i.e. defense, foreign affairs, communications, currency etc. All other subjects were conceded to the state of J&K. At the time of unprecedented, undemocratic and above all unconstitutional  dismissal of the then Prime Minister of J&K late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and putting him behind the bars for more than a decade by none other than the “great democrat of the third world, a fellow Kashmiri, late Munshi sahib’s father, an honest and diehard principled comrade of Sheikh sb, Munshi Mohammad Ishaq (later on Ishaq parted his company with Sheikh Sb ) had also to be incarcerated. In1954-55, the financial autonomy which the State had got under a solemn agreement was also sacrificed at the altar of “integration”. Consequently the state Income tax department got merged with Union Ministry of Revenue. Hassan Sb immediately after my introduction to him, on my query informed me that the J&K income tax department officers were given a choice whether they would join centre or state cadres. Late Noor Mohammad and a few others opted for state Government who later on reached to the highest bureaucratic position of the State- the Chief Secretary.  Late Munshi Sb, fearing political persecution at the hands of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad Govt. opted for Centre Revenue Service. During his tenure in Srinagar when Late Bakshi Government had taken over, he was assigned the Income Tax files of Bakshi group which though, were regularly filing its income tax returns, was not comfortable with Hassan Sb intelligent but rigorous investigation. He  was transferred as a punishment to Udhampur (Jammu and Kashmir) and later on Ganganagar stations (Rajasthan), one of the hottest and humid towns in India with sand dunes around; and thus it was considered a punishment posting.

There is an interesting anecdote relating to Hassan Sb’s posting in Udhampur. We had a simpleton, but a dedicated peon. He was posted to Udhampur and was Hassan Sb’s orderly. Hassan sb used to send him occasionally to market to fetch  200 or more  grams of  mutton from the market. After consuming this mutton for  a few days Hassan Sb asked the orderly,  “where  from he used to fetch the mutton”. Prompt came the reply “sir I am purchasing it from a “Haji Sb”.  Hassan Sb developed curiosity and after office hours asked his orderly to accompany him to the shop. On seeing “the Molvi Sahib”, Hassan sb became aghast but did not lose his temper, and accepted his orderly’s naivety with no anger .  The mutton was being purchased from a Sikh gentleman. Late Munshi sb created his own place of reputation in these hard places of posting.

 Hassan sb, as an income tax officer had a reputation of being fair but strong willed with his command on tax laws and accounts.  In those days the Income Tax practitioners were not as highly qualified as are today. Some touts with little accounting and not to talk of Income Tax knowledge used to exploit gullible Income Tax payers.  Hassan sb had, with a strong hand and determination exposed such a person and virtually banned his entry into Income Tax Office. Luck would have it, when I followed him in Srinagar as Income Tax authority, this person was singled out by me also. He was once overheard telling someone” Munshi’s junior mera likha hoowa hissab daykh rahha haay”. Later on he would be mortally afraid to appear before me and his shop was virtually closed. A close acquaintance of Munshi sb who was a reputed Kashmir art goods dealer from Saidakadal, Srinagar used to get exploited by this virtually illiterate practitioner because of his ignorance of tax laws. This tax payer had to face heavy tax liability. When my stiff approach towards this tout was being talked about in Income Tax circles, a number of income payers restrained themselves from engaging this person. When Hassan sb came to know what had happened, he congratulated me to make the tax payers aware about pitfalls of getting advice from an “illiterate tax expert.”

  It was  Munshi Ghulam  Hassan’s professional  excellence which made Marhoom Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah,  in his second tenure as CM of J&K to bring him on deputation to state sales tax department  as Commissioner sales tax J&K. Munshi sb did a commendable job there and reformed State Sales tax and procedure by introducing certain income tax practices into State Sales tax law and procedure. During Sh Jagmohan’s Government Hassan Sb was appointed as state subordinate services Commission Chairman.  He also headed JK Bank as Chairman.  During this period I continued to get “faiz” and lessons of being fair and a strong willed officer. Munshi sb was a great personality with qualities of head and heart, polite but firm in his ideas, imbibing strong conviction and being steadfast like his illustrious father Ishaq sb. He was a great Kashmiri nationalist with a strong conviction in the destiny of our Kashmir. He proved to be an illustrious successor to his predecessor in his political ideas, dreams for Kashmir and strong votary of Sunni-Shia unity. He used his retirement days fruitfully by serving his motherland when he edited and published late Munshi Ishaq’s very useful and informative memoir “Nidayay Haq”. This is a very useful addition to the literature and writings on modern Kashmir history. A must read for students and researchers of modern political history of Kashmir from 1931 to late seventies.

 Munshi Ghulam Hassan was a true Kashmiri Muslim bereft of any sectarian views which are prejudicial to the larger Kashmir narrative. During 2016 uprising  when  pellet guns were used like “toffees,”  Marhoom Hassan  sb even in his ailing health joined justice Hassnain Masoodi, Mr Mohammad Shafi Pandith and this humble person, to express his anguish and sorrow over the cruelty of snatching eye sight of scores of elderly, young, ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, and appealed the Govts of India and Pakistan to enter into a  dialogue with JK  people to seek a permanent  and just reconciliation  between the two states and the people of J& K. Shafi sb Pandith and me visited the departed soul several times. In Munshi Ghulam Hassan we have lost a great human being and a great exponent and advocate of Kashmir, a great host, a great unifier among different fiqhi and sectarian groups. A great son of the soil has departed. I was planning to visit him a few days ago but alas could not meet him just before his departure to jannah. My deepest condolences to his family members. Particularly his brother, son, and son-law. Let us hope and trust that his successors, admirers and followers adhere to his path. We all mourn his death and pray to Allah that Munshi sb should continue to remain a bacon light for all of us. Allah Magfarat Karay.

G. R. Sufi IRS (rtd.) currently heads the WAKF Board