SPOTLIGHT - Pt. Sarwanand Kaul Premi

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Pt. Sarwanand Kaul Premi

*Rocky Pandita

Pt. Sarwanand Kaul Premi: A Profile
A poet, who read the Koran and the Gita daily with equal reverence and translated the Bhagwad Gita and Tagore’s Gitanjali into Kashmiri language. A social worker and a freedom fighter, who had participated in ‘Quit India’ movement. A familiar name in Kashmir, known for his sociability and helping the poor & needy.and a person with a smiling face, committed to his motherland Kashmir, and blunt in speaking the truth through his writings was none other than the great Sarwanand Kaul Premi.

Sarwanand Kaul ‘Premi’ was born on 2nd November 1924 in the village Soaf Shali of Anantnag district of Kashmir. He passed Matric from Punjab University in 1939 with Merit. He later obtained his Masters in Hindi with Honors.and started his professional career with the All India Spinners Association, a politico-commercial organization (Khaddi-Bhandar), set up by Mahatma Gandhi and worked there for 8 years. He was influenced by the Gandhian Philosophy of life and got involved in the freedom movement. As writing was inborn in him, he used to write for newspapers of that time. He contributed to DAILY KHIDMAT, the official organ of the National Conference, and WEEKLY DESH in Srinagar. He has authored 24 books, and has written many articles and poems.

After 1948 he left the valley and got employed in the industries dep't. Of Punjab Govt. later in the Central-Govt. in Delhi. He returned to the happy valley in 1954 and joined the Education Dep't. of the J&K state and served this Dep't for 23 long years. He was also an active social worker working tirelessly for both Hindu and Muslim communities in Kashmir. Through his writings, he advocated strongly the need of a secular character of Kashmir. He always used to highlight the causes of poor and needy people in seminars and symposia on the state and national level. He was deeply religious but liberal.

He achieved fame and became a household name with his writings on the life stories of the saint-poetess Mata Roopa Bhawani, a short biography of saint-poet Swami Mirza-Kakji, and translating the Bagwat Geeta in Kashmiri. His other works include Kalami-Premi, Paymai-Premi, Rooda-jery, Oosh-ta-vosh, Mahjoor-t-Kashir, Russi Padshah Katha, Hamara Mahjoor, Kashmir ki Bettie, He is pioneer in the translation of "Shrimad Bagwat Gita", in 3 languages, Urdu, Hindi and Kashmiri. Urdu and Kashmiri versions have been published.

Sarwanand Kaul Premi was the person who always believed in secularism as a way of life in Kashmir. He loved his village, the people around; and was always eager to help his people. He used to teach the poor Muslim boys and girls free of cost. Majority of educated persons today from that area are the students of Premi sahib. His family was the lone Hindu family in his village and he was loved and respected by all. His basic belief was that there was no difference between the Muslims and Hindus,

He was fearless in speaking out publicly as well through local newspapers. Whenever the situation demanded, he used his pen, to speak the truth. His love for communal harmony, amity and brotherhood made him popular as well as widely respected in the area. Unfortunately, he was unaware of the spread of the militancy that had started in Kashmir and became a victim.

On April 29, 1990, it was around 9 pm when the three armed men, forced their entry into the house at Soaf Shali and ransacked the entire house and looted all the valuables at gun point” says Rajinder Kaul the son of late Premi sahib. The muslim terrorists also took away cash, jewelery and other valuables from the house.

The youngest daughter Jyoti could not understand what was happening and why the gunmen were looting their valuables. She never expected that her loving father who was respected and loved by the Muslims will be taken away by the terrorists and then killed alongwith her elder 27 year old brother in a brutal manner.

On the pretext of asking him some questions, Sarwanand Kaul Premi who was 64, was kidnapped by the terrorists from his house. His 27 year old son, Varinder Kaul insisted on accompanying his father.

When the news of the assassination came on the radio, it appeared that the valley had lost one of the most popular personalities and secularism was dead in the state. The death of Sarvanad Koul Premi shocked the whole area of Anantnag distt. and the Kashmiri Hindus/Pandits from the surroundings areas like Kokernag, Verinag, Chinigund, started to leave the Kashmir valley.

Some of the friends and associates had requested Sarvanand Premi to leave the village when the selective killings of Kashmiri Hindus had started in the valley in 1990. But it was his firm belief that because he has always loved his village and his Muslim neighbor, these people would take care of him. He could never imagine that the Islamic terrorists would kill him and not even spare his 27 yrs old young son.

This happened to a man who was the freedom fighter, a humanist, a social worker, a journalist and a well-known Kashmiri poet and the person who was loved most by his Muslim neighbors.

Because of this shock, the remaining members of the family had to migrate and take refuge elsewhere abandoning their home and belongings.

Late Shri Sarvanad Koul Premi was awarded posthumously a gold medal and Rs 1.0 lac in the field of literature on the Independence Day, in 1997 by J & K government. He is also conferred with Shree Bhat Puraskar -2000 by Kashmiri Hindu community.

Who will answer the questions of his wife, his daughters, his son and other family members?

Why my husband and our father was killed?

Who will give back our home in Kashmir?

Will the loss be ever compensated ?

*Rockey Pandita, is an Engineer, a journalist and a social worker and putting up in Delhi India and originally belong to “Chinigund Verinag” Kashmir)
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