Remembering our dear Manjit Bir Singh

Manjit Beer Singh, former Physical Education Director Government College Baramulla, passed away after brief illness in SKIMS, Srinagar on 22 November, 2020.  His demise grieved and shattered the entire population of District Baramulla and people at many places in J&K across all faiths.

Born on 10th June, 1953 in Kanli Bagh, Baramulla, he passed Matriculation Examination from DAV School Srinagar, graduated from Government College Baramulla and obtained Master’s degree in Chemistry from University of Kashmir Srinagar. Later he obtained BP Ed degree from Government College of Physical Education Srinagar in 1981 as an in-service candidate.  Initially he was appointed as Assistant Physical Training Instructor in 1978 and was promoted as Physical Training Instructor on 9th  December, 1987. His services superannuated on 30th  June 2011.

Manjeet Beer Singh was a veteran Physical Education Teacher who worked with utmost sincerity and sense of great devotion in various Colleges including Government College Baramulla (two spells), Government College for Women Baramulla (two spells), Government College for Boys Spore and Government College for Boys Anantnag. However, he served for longer period in Government College Baramulla where he set out to kindle a spark of enlightenment in its sports field and proved to be an inspiration for winning the hearts of people. Students would often be found gathered around him as if they were his real children or brothers and sisters. He was fond of playing hockey. It is because of his professional commitment that the Hockey team of Baramulla College always won Hockey finals. Many hockey players of the College have played at national level. Tufail Ahmad Haji, Principal Apex Public School Sopore says, “Manjit Bir Singh was an erudite to the core with substantial contribution in irrigating the plant of education especially in Baramulla”. Ayaz Hassan Moon former Director NIELIT remembers him thus, “Manjit Bir Singh would always keep the play field abuzz and his resolute contribution to sports and academic activities during his stint in Degree College Baramulla shall be acknowledged for long”.

When I took over as Principal Government College Baramulla in August, 2000, I found him always available as a worker of extraordinary and steadfast approach. In very difficult times he stood like a rock and provided solid support. He was one among the most devoted employees of the College, workholic and available from dawn to dusk for the betterment of the Institution. His contribution in general development of the College and arranging College extension activities including outings, subject and education tours, were exemplary.  He assisted in institutional governance, in maintaining discipline and conduct of examinations. Prof Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, former Principal Government College Baramulla rightly says, “Any mention of Baramulla College and its rise to an institution of excellence will be incomplete without taking contribution of Manjit Bir Singh into account”.

It is essential to reveal that at time of admissions, he would identify students coming from weaker sections of society and would deposit their fee out of his pocket. For arranging fee of more such students, he would not collect donations in a usual way. Instead, he would ask his colleagues for their wallet and would take out a reasonable amount. I haven’t seen any colleague hesitating to hand him over his/her wallet or getting annoyed. Every colleague would offer his/her wallet gladly and would appreciate his confidence and sincere objective. All his colleagues and students will remember him for his sustained and sincere efforts he made for the betterment of humanity.  “Manjeet Bir Singh was an Epitome of love, sympathy and composite culture. How can we forget him?” Says Prof Rabiya Rasool. Prof Nazir Ahmad Sheikh expresses his grief, “How can I say good bye to Manjit Ji!” He further adds, “The loss of this kind of person with innate goodness, enviable qualities and modest conduct is irreparable. He has left a big void that is difficult to be filled. A great friend and a symbol of composite culture is lost.”

Manjit Bir Singh patiently and tirelessly instilled in his students the spirit of self-help and social service. He breathed his own idealism, action and spirit of service into his students and tried to make them models of uprightness, honesty and good character. His conduct and performance was adorable. He was indeed an embodiment of great virtues and was loved by all. Chief Engineer Iftikhar Ahmad Kakroo opines, “Manjit Bir Jee was a humanist, philanthropist, well-wisher of everybody and a dependable friend. People like him make Baramulla stand out for brotherhood, civility and affability among its people. He has left a big void and it is for his friends and well-wishers to fill it so that the mission continues”.

As an active member of College Teachers Association (CTA), he attended and actively participated in all sessions of the Association held in different Colleges across the Valley. He even used his personal vehicle to ferry his fellow members to make their presence in different academic sessions of the Association comfortable. His effective and result oriented efforts for the growth of Varmul College Alumni Association (VCAA), as its active member for excellence of his Alma’ mater, have remained unparalleled till he breathed his last. Dr Farooq Ahmad Lone (SKUAST), with tears rolling down his eyes, remembers Manjit Ji, “I had very close association with him when I was working as Lecturer in the Department of Botany. I considered him an institution and not an individual. He was a wonderful colleague and a trustworthy friend always proactive in multifarious developmental activities of the institution”.

District Administration Baramulla would always engage his services as nodal / liaison officer for making necessary arrangements, coordinating in counting of votes and even to arrange coverage of media personal during Assembly, Parliamentary and Local Body Elections. Even at the time of any eventuality or a natural calamity like earthquake, floods, fire devastations or Covid 19, he would readily offer his services to mitigate the sufferings of people.

Prof Irshad Ahmad Wani gives vent to his emotions on this occasion thus, “It is difficult to describe Manjit Ji. A man of all occasions, a meeting of joy or sorrow would be incomplete without him. His mere presence in difficult times would be a source of solace for us all. His departure has left a deep void in our lives”.

The demise of Manjit Bir Singh has indeed been a personal loss to his friends, colleagues and society at large. People of extraordinary ethical values who perform their duty with sense of great devotion can’t be forgotten. They are remembered for a long time to come.

The author is former College Principal and President Varmul College Alumni Association)