Dr. Masud Ahmed Choudhary was a multifaceted personality. He made an immense contribution to the spread of education among masses and up lift of downtrodden people of his community.
It is not possible to describe his persona in one write-up as two books on his life and achievements stand already penned down by two prominent authors.
However, I may like to throw some light on various aspects of his life, career and his contribution, particularly in the field of education which he narrated and revealed to me when I had come to see him at his residence in Gandhinagar, Jammu during the winter of 2022 as he was convalescing from the illness.
I found him in high spirits even when he was passing through the toughest times of his life. He had so much concern for his community that he gave many interviews to journalists while he was bed ridden, defending and supporting their cause.
Being my senior, he welcomed me with all love and affection. Masud was born and raised in Kalaban, a remote village of Tehsil Mendhar, district Poonch.
His Father Babu Faiz was a teacher in a govt. school. He was a noble soul and held in high esteem by the members of his community.
Masud Ahmed Choudhary had his primary and high school education at Kalaban and Mendhar. He passed his graduation from MAM college Jammu.
Being the son of a teacher he wished to go outside state for higher studies. To fulfil his wish he went to Aligarh and got admission in Law department at Aligarh Muslim University. At AMU he was highly inspired and influenced by Sir Sayeed Ahmed Khan for his monumental work he had done in establishing this University.
The services of Papa Mian Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah who was a pioneer in spreading education among Indian Muslim women for their empowerment cannot be ignored and needs to be highlighted.
Papa Mian SMA was also from his native district Poonch who had migrated to Aligarh in connection with his studies and got permanently settled there after joining the faculty of AMU.
Masud after obtaining his law degree, started practising law at district court Pooch. He had to quit the BAR as he was appointed dy SP in the police department by the govt. of the time during the regime of G.M.Sadiq, in 1966. He held many important positions and assignments during his services of 36 years.
He was also honoured with many state and national awards. He rose to the rank of additional director general of police by dint of his hard work and dedication. After his retirement from police service he was appointed as CEO of Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University Rajouri by the then C.M. Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and later on as its Vice Chancellor in 2005.
Gujjar Desh Charitable Trust Chani Jammu
He played a pivotal role in establishing the Gujjar Desh Charitable Trust at Jammu. Right from his childhood one thing which lurked in his mind was to do something special and extraordinary for the uplift of downtrodden people of his community. Inspired by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, his urge to serve the community got further boost.
To give practical shape to his dream he thought of establishing the Gujjar Trust. He had to face many challenges and criticism from some of the members of his community during its implementation. But this could not deter him and he went on fulfilling his dream.
Ultimately he succeeded in establishing the Gujjar Charitable Trust by starting with the opening of K.B.Public School after the name of Brigaedier Khuda Baksh, a prominent member of his community.
He further expanded this institute by acquiring additional land at Chani Himit. The complex has developed to the extent that a library, museum, auditorium and centre for culture and heritage have come up in the complex.
The successful formation of this Trust was a dream come true for Masud. This feat was achieved by him due to his untiring efforts and hard work. The beautiful buildings of this huge complex have unique Mughal, Turkish and Rajastani architectural design.
He was successful to enlighten his era and beyond at a time when the darkness was at peak among the members of his community. The foundation of Gojari research centre was laid by Masud himself on 25-10-2001.
The centre conducts research on Gojari language, culture and the heritage of Gujjar and Bakerwal tribe in J&K. Annual day of this institute is celebrated every year in the month of November. The VVIPs who have visited this institute on its annual day function include Late Attal Behari Vajpayee Ji, late Chander Shekar former P.M. L.K Advani, former dy. P.M and Sonia Gandhi among others.
As an ace organizer
Masud was an important and prominent member of Jammu civil society. Being the chairman of organizing committee of civil society, he had always remained closely attached with conducting state and national level art and cultural functions in Jammu district.
As head of the Jammu civil society he was pioneer in organizing an international festival in the name of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a renowned Urdu poet on 25th Feb. 2011, and made the centenary program a great success. The function was also attended by Salma Hashmi the daughter of Faiz Ahmed Faiz among other dignitaries who had come from outside the state/country.
Grant of Schedule Tribe status to Gujjar and Bakerwal Community.
Masud Ahmed Choudhary played a pivotal role in presenting the case of his community before the Govt of India for grant of Schedule Tribe status. One of his friends and former member of Parliament and state cabinet minister Choudhary Talib Hussain says that “the grant of schedule tribe status to their community was not possible without the participation of Masud while presenting the case to GOI.
It was Masud who was responsible for the collection of requisite data and records which facilitated the centre govt: to grant ST status to Gujjar and Bakerwal community”.
The reservation of STC opened the new vistas and opportunities for down trodden educated youth of his community to compete the All India service exams.
As a result of this, within last few years we find dozens of educated youth of his community hailing from Rajouri and Poonch districts were able to qualify the AICSE and join the elite services of IAS and IPS. All the credit of this contribution goes to none other than Masud Ahmed Choudhary.
Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University
His untiring efforts in building and establishing BGSB University, 7KM from Rajouri is itself a remarkable feat of Dr Masud Choudhary. And the monumental success he achieved during the process of completion of this huge project in shortest possible time speaks volumes about his contribution.
He had himself admitted during my interactions with him that this task was not possible without the blessings of great saint Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah. It was Mufti M. Sayeed, the then CM who appointed Masud as CEO and later on as vice chancellor of university for a period of three years. Masud was neither an academician nor had any experience in the field of education.
But he had carried with him, the varied experiences of organizational skill and abilities to access and initiate things independently from the services of police and Gujjar trust which made his job easy. Acquisition of large chunk of land and building of huge infra structure for establishing this university was not an easy task.
He was so resourceful that he succeeded in acquiring 8000 Kanals of govt. land and 1000 kanals of forest land for building this highest seat of learning. The university is located in the lap of Dhanvir hills and surrounded by forests. He consulted the best architects and engineers of the time for finalization of its architectural design.
Since the area was devoid of water and electricity facilities, Masud had to put in lot of efforts to bring the drinking supply water from 7 K.M distance after laying pipes through city of Rajouri to the campus at Dhanvir. Similarly the Campus was supplied electricity within few months.
Keeping the present need of the time in view he laid much emphasis on teaching the subjects of technology and computer science besides opening of traditional streams like arts, social science, literature, science and languages. He laid the foundation of “Pirpanchal Diversity park” which is spread over the area of 427 acres of land.
He also introduced Mahtma Gandhi Chair for ecology and environment department. He also started college of engineering and technology in 2007 and Polytechnic in 2008.
For laying solid foundation for learning and his excellent work he was granted an extension of two years more in service as vice chancellor. He was awarded an honorary degree of doctor of literature in recognition of his services as vice chancellor.
He breathed his last on 15th December 2022 in his home at Gandhinagar Jammu. The death was mourned by one and all throughout in Jammu, Poonch and Rajouri districts. He was laid to rest for eternal journey at Chani graveyard near Gujjar Trust.
For the persons who are interested to know more about Masud Choudhary, may read the following books written by the well known authors.
1) “Masud Ahmed Choudhary”------“Shakhs, Shakhasiat aur Khidmaat” by Ghani Gavoor
2) “Bayaban se Gulshan-e-Hazar Rang Tak” ----- by Dr. Shams Kamal Anjum
To sum up Masud Ahmed Choudhary was a gem of a person, a great visionary, genius, a philosopher and guide. He was a man who moved the mountains.
Abdul Rashid Khan (IPS), former IGP.
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.