Munshi Ghulam Hassan

He was a great personality with qualities of head and heart, polite but firm
Munshi Ghulam Hassan

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

"Blessed is He in whose hand lies Sovereignty … Who createddeath 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 mostlyrelated to "Haqooq ul ibbad"(a human beings duties, responsibilities and rightstowards his other fellow beings).  Thatmost of those people are blessed in the eyes of Allah who are beneficial tohumanity at large and particularly to Ummah. In spite of the dearth of suchpeople among us, Allah never deprives the human society of such noble souls. Inour society there are indeed such souls who dedicate their lives for the bettermentof society, identify the ills which has seeped into the very vitals of thesociety 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 withoutany personal interest or worldly reward. Intention has to be to do somethingfor people just to earn Allah's pleasure. Few days ago one such person passed away. His name is Late Munshi GhulamHassan who had held several positions as an Income Tax Authority under theJ&K Government on deputation as well as Central Government.  He was drafted in J&K state Government asSales Tax Commissioner, Chairman, J&K State Subordinate ServicesCommission, and lastly Chairman Jammu Kashmir Bank.

How I came to know this great personality is an interestingstory. 

It was Sept /Oct 1978, I, along with my 1977 IRS lovelybatch mates, was on Bharat Darshan. We reached Tamil Nadu's famous tourist spotKanya Kumari or Coimbatore. We were out on site seeing that our Deputy Directortraining 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 ofthe India's premier Service-Indian Revenue Service. He was introduced toprobationers of 1977 batch. When I was introduced to him, the retiredCommissioner remarked "oh you are from Kashmir. We had a fine, efficientand high on integrity officer Mr. Ghulam Hassan from Kashmir." I wasthrilled and elated to find such a glorifying description of an officer fromKashmir. Shortly after Bharat Darshan, part of our training programme, we wereposted in the field. The love for my recognition (JK) made me to request mydepartment to post me to Jammu and Kashmir. Allah has always granted mysupplications. I was posted to Jammu in Nov 1978. Shortly after some time Ifound late Hassan  Sb visiting my officeat transport yard Jammu with his sincere and fine friend – Late Sh BaldevKhular 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 continuedhis selfless friendship with me till his death. When Marhoom Hassan sb enteredmy office room, I found a radiant glow on his face. This was obvious that hewas happy to note that a first Kashmiri Muslim direct recruit had entered inhis parent service. Hassan sb had entered JK Govt. Service before 53. Duringthose days Income Tax  and Audit andAccount Services were with the J&K state on account of agreements whichlate Maharaja Hari Singh  had enteredinto with the State of India  afterensuring  that Indian State   got only a few subjects i.e. defense, foreign affairs, communications, currencyetc. All other subjects were conceded to the state of J&K. At the time ofunprecedented, undemocratic and above all unconstitutional  dismissal of the then Prime Minister ofJ&K late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and putting him behind the bars for morethan a decade by none other than the "great democrat of the third world, afellow Kashmiri, late Munshi sahib's father, an honest and diehard principledcomrade of Sheikh sb, Munshi Mohammad Ishaq (later on Ishaq parted his companywith Sheikh Sb ) had also to be incarcerated. In1954-55, the financial autonomywhich the State had got under a solemn agreement was also sacrificed at thealtar of "integration". Consequently the state Income tax department got mergedwith Union Ministry of Revenue. Hassan Sb immediately after my introduction tohim, on my query informed me that the J&K income tax department officerswere given a choice whether they would join centre or state cadres. Late NoorMohammad and a few others opted for state Government who later on reached tothe highest bureaucratic position of the State- the Chief Secretary.  Late Munshi Sb, fearing political persecutionat the hands of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad Govt. opted for Centre Revenue Service.During his tenure in Srinagar when Late Bakshi Government had taken over, hewas assigned the Income Tax files of Bakshi group which though, were regularlyfiling its income tax returns, was not comfortable with Hassan Sb intelligentbut rigorous investigation. He  wastransferred as a punishment to Udhampur (Jammu and Kashmir) and later onGanganagar stations (Rajasthan), one of the hottest and humid towns in Indiawith sand dunes around; and thus it was considered a punishment posting.

There is an interesting anecdote relating to Hassan Sb'sposting in Udhampur. We had a simpleton, but a dedicated peon. He was posted toUdhampur and was Hassan Sb's orderly. Hassan sb used to send him occasionallyto 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 ampurchasing it from a "Haji Sb".  HassanSb developed curiosity and after office hours asked his orderly to accompanyhim to the shop. On seeing "the Molvi Sahib", Hassan sb became aghast but didnot lose his temper, and accepted his orderly's naivety with no anger .  The mutton was being purchased from a Sikhgentleman. Late Munshi sb created his own place of reputation in these hardplaces of posting.

 Hassan sb, as anincome tax officer had a reputation of being fair but strong willed with hiscommand on tax laws and accounts.  Inthose days the Income Tax practitioners were not as highly qualified as aretoday. Some touts with little accounting and not to talk of Income Taxknowledge used to exploit gullible Income Tax payers.  Hassan sb had, with a strong hand and determinationexposed 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 tellingsomeone" Munshi's junior mera likha hoowa hissab daykh rahha haay". Lateron he would be mortally afraid to appear before me and his shop was virtuallyclosed. A close acquaintance of Munshi sb who was a reputed Kashmir art goodsdealer from Saidakadal, Srinagar used to get exploited by this virtuallyilliterate practitioner because of his ignorance of tax laws. This tax payerhad to face heavy tax liability. When my stiff approach towards this tout wasbeing talked about in Income Tax circles, a number of income payers restrainedthemselves from engaging this person. When Hassan sb came to know what hadhappened, he congratulated me to make the tax payers aware about pitfalls ofgetting advice from an "illiterate tax expert."

  It was  Munshi Ghulam Hassan's professional  excellencewhich made Marhoom Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, in his second tenure as CM of J&K to bring him on deputation tostate sales tax department  asCommissioner sales tax J&K. Munshi sb did a commendable job there andreformed State Sales tax and procedure by introducing certain income taxpractices into State Sales tax law and procedure. During Sh Jagmohan'sGovernment Hassan Sb was appointed as state subordinate services CommissionChairman.  He also headed JK Bank asChairman.  During this period I continuedto get "faiz" and lessons of being fair and a strong willed officer. Munshi sbwas a great personality with qualities of head and heart, polite but firm inhis ideas, imbibing strong conviction and being steadfast like his illustriousfather Ishaq sb. He was a great Kashmiri nationalist with a strong convictionin the destiny of our Kashmir. He proved to be an illustrious successor to hispredecessor in his political ideas, dreams for Kashmir and strong votary ofSunni-Shia unity. He used his retirement days fruitfully by serving hismotherland when he edited and published late Munshi Ishaq's very useful andinformative memoir "Nidayay Haq". This is a very useful addition tothe literature and writings on modern Kashmir history. A must read for studentsand researchers of modern political history of Kashmir from 1931 to lateseventies.

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

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

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