Kashmir: How we grew with education

The treaty of Amritsar did’t mention anything about the internal administration of the state of J&K.
Kashmir: How we grew with education
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The treaty of Amritsar did't mention anything about the internal administration of the state of J&K. The Maharaja, Gulab Singh, was master of his kingdom.

Prior to the treaty the Britishers knowledge about Kashmir was scanty and just a few Englishmen had visited the area, of course, without any political purpose. Gulab Singh, therefore, became a subordinate ally in the north for the British.

The Maharaja failed to achieve any success in governance, observed the Anglo-Indian press at the time. Charges of apathy and occasionally dreadful cruelty were brought against him. As in other fields of day to day life deprivation of Muslims continued to remain hopeless in the field of education. While as the Muslims in India saw establishment of Deoband School in 1879, the Kashmiri Muslims continued to live in environment of illiteracy and ignorance. By 1888 A.D the Muslims with a population of 22.3 percent in the subcontinent accounted for only 9.2 percent and 3.6 percent of student population in English education schools and colleges respectively. With Sir Sayid Ahmad Khan on the scene he founded Mohamadan Educational Conference in 1886. He was keen to promote education and employment of Muslims.

Modern education in the state of Jammu and Kashmir got introduced in 1880s during the Dogra Rule. Ranbir Singh has to his credit opening of "schools" "in the State. 44 schools were opened in 1872-73 AD of which 31 were in Jammu province. Kashmiris   will remain indebted to Church Mission Society of England which started a Primary school on Western lines at Fateh Kadal in 1881 A.D with just five students. This is one of the main reasons that Kashmiri Muslims were thrown towards uncertainty and survival became doubtful because of recurring pestilence, famine, and floods . Shia-Sunni clashes of 1872 compounded the problem. It is because of this scenario that due to lack of formal education not a single Kashmiri Muslim was employed in the administration except some scavengers during later part of nineteenth century. 

In December 1890 Tyndale Biscoe arrived on the scene to take over from Hilton Knowles. It is appropriate to call him the founder of modern education in Kashmir. The year 1899 turned out to be a watershed when a small group of religious preachers of Srinagar led by Mirwaiz Rasul Shah formed Anjuman Nasrat-u-l-Islam. The school thus established introduced English as a subject. The first batch of students of this school appeared in Matriculation examination in 1908 AD. writes Mr. Muzaffar Khan in his book "Kashmiri Muslims Vol-II".

Times changed eventually. The pressure on the Maharaja during twenties by Khilafat Committee Lahore and Mohammadan Educational Conference at Aligragh followed by Henry Sharp report started showing positive results. Glancy commission report in 1931 made recommendations to the Maharaja for the promotion of interests of the Muslims in the state. The Maharaja accepted the recommendations in education sector and besides other relevant points he approved appointment of local people to the posts of patwaris, forest guards and game watchers. The Pandits took it as an a front as they started feeling insecure so far as government jobs were concerned. In the wake of this development, the pandits started "Roti Agitation in 1932. Fact remains that equation between Muslims and Kashmiri pandits was unbalanced. Most of the Kashmiri pandits belonged to middle class. As depicted by Prem Nath Bazaz in his book "Inside Kashmir" "Political persecution through many countries has made Kashmir Pandits cunning, crafty and garrulous …… unhappily some of them can be mischievous and can harm their opponents. A KP can be clever at intrigue and diplomacy and many Pandits have risen to high posts in British India on account of their ready wit and tact".

As a result of significant improvement in the plight of Kashmiri Muslims Kh. Ghulam Ahmad Ashai (born April 4, 1895) was the first Muslim graduate from the valley who passed B.A in 1915. Subsequently he did MA (Persian) from Calcutta University and B.T from Punjab University (Lahore) and Masters in oriental language (M.O.L) from the same university. He didn't join Forest service of the state inspite of successfully competing for it. He preferred to join education department and contributed immensely in the spread of education among hapless Muslims. Bowing to the pressure Maharaja opened Jabri (Compulsory) schools, as an experiment, at Srinagar and Sopore (14th April 1930) and declared that all children below the age of eleven years shall have to mandatorily join these schools. Unfortunately on 14 th May 1930 Raizada Niranjan Das (Inspector Schools) and Ashai Sahib were sacked from service after serious differences between the two.

In 1928 summer Peerzada Ghulam Ahmad (Shounthoo), Abdul Aziz Fazili (Science Master, Islamia School) Habib-u-llah Mir, Molvi Abdul Raheem (son of Molvi Abdullah Vakil), Abdul Rashid, Mir Habib-u-llah Kamili, Mohammad Rajab, Ghulam Mohammad, Mufti Jalal-u-din and Hidat-u-llah Punjabi were the first batch of graduates. (My apologies if any name has been missed) . Peerzada Sahib got first position in graduation examination. Ghulam Murtaza did his B.Sc from Jammu College. Simultaneously in 1928  Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah did his graduation from Islamia College Lahore and completed his M.Sc from Aligragh Muslim University in the year 1930. Dr. Ghulam Mohi-u-din known to many as Dr. Din was not only the first Muslim qualified medical graduate from Kashmir valley but also the first Kashmiri Muslim to acquire the post graduate qualification of MRCP and first Kashmiri doctor to be appointed as a consultant in the U.K.Writes Dr. Gulzar Mufti in his book "Kashmir in Sickness and in Health". Dr. Din completed MBBS degree course from King Edward Medical College in 1930. Likewise in 1927. Ghulam Hassan Khan left Kashmir for America for seeking degree in engineering, who was the first Kashmir Muslim engineer.

In old city Srinagar a patch of about 300 meters sandwiched between Khawaja Bazar and Daribal (neighbourhood of Ziyarat Naqashband Sahb RA) has the distinction of producing amazing results due to spread of education in Srinagar. Families known as Kamilis, Fazilis, Naqashbandis, Rufais, Qazis, Shahris, Kundangars, Mukhdoomi's and Pandits produced scholars, engineers, doctors, judicial officers, Forest officers, well known calligraphists writers and bureaucrats etc. who excelled in their respective fields. It was perhaps outcome of the vision and efforts of Sultan Husyn Chak (1562-69 A.D) who established a Dar-ul-Uloom at Khawaja Bazar. All these families have left the place and got settled elsewhere in Srinagar. But the fragrance of the 'miti' never faded away.

Those who claim that lack of education, capacity, capability and merit has historically stuck with Kashmiri Muslims get completely belied. The Muslims were kept away from education which generated their backwardness and miserable plight. The fortune of Muslims turned as soon as opportunity was given to them.

(The author is a Rtd. Senior Police Officer and former member PSC J&K)

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