A scientist and a spiritual guide

He was one of the pioneers in Rice Research in J&K
A scientist and a spiritual guide
File Photo of Ab. Rasheed Hamdani

S MASHKOOR ELLAHI

M.Sc from A.M.U. (Aligarh), Ab. Rasheed Hamdani joined the Department of Agriculture as Special Officer (Rice) in mid fifties. At that time J&K state as a whole , and Department of Agriculture in particular, were confronted with serious problems in the area of paddy cultivation. Traditional varieties available were low yielding (1000-2000 Kgs/Acre), and susceptible to diseases such as Blast (Ryie) and logging before harvest. To overcome such problems Department of Agriculture started a well organized Research Project with stations at Shalimar, Baghat-i-Shuroo (Srinagar), Khudwani, Dialgam (Anantnag) R.S. Pora, and Ponicheck (Jammu). Our scientists and associates worked hard in stupefying heat of summers in the fields, and penetrating chill of winters in the laboratories. Within few years, after breeding and cross breeding, they were successful in evolving some famous varieties like Ch 1039, Ch 97 1, K 39, K 78, K 84 etc. (K for Kashmir). Some yielding more than (4000 — 5000 Kg) / acre, and resistant to blast, and non logging. K 78 was also called Barkat and was sent to places like Nepal.

Rice Research Station Khudwani emerged as main Research Station. With Hamdani Sahib as Rice Specialist. An ambitious programme of improved seed production, and of newly evolved varieties was launched. Thereby catering huge area under Rice Cultivation year after year.

Khudwani Station got the name and fame, and a place on the map of National / International Rice Research Stations for Coordinated Research Projects. In appreciation of his work Hamdani Sahib was sponsored for higher training in Rice Research at International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines. He rubbed his shoulders there with scientists of international repute. Enriched with knowledge and techniques he came and shared the same with his colleagues and associates. His Research Station was identified as Zonal Research Station for International Coordinated Research Project especially for High Altitude Research and Cold Resistant Varieties of Rice. Hamdani Sahib was the Zonal Coordinator. Dr. W. Freeman, Director International Coordinated Research Project of Rockefeller Foundation U.S.A. would often come to Khudwani to monitor the Research work in fields and labs. He had great regard for Hamdani Sahib, who was a soft spoken person and one of the most respected officers of Agriculture and Horticulture Fraternity of the State. In recognition of his dedication and contribution he was promoted and elevated as Director / H.O.D. He retired as Director Command Area Kashmir in 1986.

Like his ancestors who were spiritually highly placed and were Sajjada Nisheens of Khankahi Moulla, generation after generation, Hamdani Sahib was also Sajjada Nisheen of Khankahi-Moulla and Head Sub Auqaf of the shrine. He worked without self interests, and with dedication, till the end of his tenure. During unfortunate fire episode of the spire of the shrine in 2016 Hamdani Sahib was emotionally moved, but with spiritual support and that of his family, he gathered courage to renovate and replace the damaged spire which was an uphill task. He, and his son, Shahid Nooman (may he live long) got physically, financially and emotionally involved. They were successful in carrying out the tough assignment gracefully and peacefully. Hamdani Sahib passed away on 9th November 202 1 and was laid to rest by the side of his fore fathers inside the Astana of Hz. Baba Waali Sb (Turkistani), Khanka-hi-Moula Srinagar.

May his soul rest in peace and be blessed with divine blessings (Ameen).

S. Mashkoor Ellahi. Retd HoD, SKUAST (K)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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