Thursday, August 1, 2013





Rainawari area of Srinagar city has a glorious past .If it produced saints like Jeevan Sahib , Miyan Shah Sahib , Krishen Joo Kar, Zanana Zoi and Zind Shah Peer , it was also the birth place of Taba Ram Turki ( 1776-1847 ) and Bhawani Dass Kachroo ( husband or Kashmiri poetess Arnimal ) both renowned Persian scholars and poets  .Taba Ram Turki was a contemporary of Gani Kashmiri .

Saiyed Mohammad Madni who later came to be known ad Madin Sahib in Kashmir, had also settled peacefully in Rainawari before Sultan Zain ul Abdin made him to shift to his new capital Nowshera in Srinagar city . Pandit Keshav Bhat Jyotshi ,a profound astrologer and a Sanskrit scholar who is responsible for documenting Karm- kaand and various other religious texts for the Kashmiri Pandits also hailed from Rainawari. So did Jaffer Ali (recipient of many awards ) the well known papier mache artist belong to Hassanabad ,Rainawari.

Mata Bhagbhari, a saintly Kashmiri Pandit woman also lived in Rainawari . She  presented a hand woven Pashmina cloak to Guru Hargobindh Ji ,the sixth Sikh Guru on his visit to  the Kashmir valley. History informs us that during  the Afghan  rule in Kashmir ,  Dila Ram Quli  rose to become a member of the Kabul Darbaar. Dila Ram Quli  was also from Rainawari. Not only an able administrator ,Dila Ram Quli was a Farsi ( Persian ) poet as well.  Prof P N Dhar, well known economist and the then Principal Advisor to Mrs Indira Gandhi was also from Rainawari.  His father, Vishen Joo Hakim was the headmaster of Biscoe School .He worked with Tyndale Biscoe. This Hakim family lived at Surateng Mohalla  of Rainawari in close proximity to  the Mission Hospital .

T N Kaul ( ICS ) , Pandit Saligram Kaul ( engineer who fined his own wife for misuse of municipal water which was being used  by her for irrigating Kitchen garden . ), Pandit Prem Nath Thussoo (eminent educationist associated with Vishwa Bharti Institutions ), Dr B K Jalali ( well known surgeon from Kashmir ), Samsar Chand Kaul Ganhaar ( noted ornithologist ), Shridhar Joo Dulloo ( well known teacher who educated Ladakhis ), Ghulam Rasool Nazki ( broadcaster and Kashmiri poet ) ,Farooq Nazki ( Kashmiri poet and noted media personality ), Moti Lal Naaz ( Kashmir poet ) ,Ghulam Ahmed Sofi ( Amma Kaandhur, well Known Sufiana and Chhakri singer of Kashmir ),artist P N Kachru and artist  Gokul Dembi  also lived in Rainawari . Noted music composer and vocalist ,T K Jalali is also from Rainawari. Shyam Lal Saraf ( minister in Sheikh Abdullah's first cabinet after 1947 ) was also from Rainawari.  The illustrious Kak brothers , I mean the well known Journalist R K Kak ,  Journalist M L Kak , bureaucrat S K Kak ( IAS ) and  B L  Kak  ( author .. Fall of Gilgit  ) ) are also from Rainawari . Prof Amitabh Mattoo also belongs to an illustrious Mattoo family from Rainawari . Noted Urdu and Kashmiri scholar and  a  Sahitya Akademi  awardee ,Prof Mohammad  Zaman Azurda is also from   Hassanabad ,Rainawari. Nand Lal Wattal,  a well known Urdu Journalist of the  J&K state and former editor of  the ‘Khidmat’ newspaper was also from Rainawari. The list is endless.

Rainawari has another distinction of being home to Samuel Baqqal, probably the first amongst  the educated Muslims from Kashmir  who became a  Christian . Baqqals live in Kraalyaar locality of  Rainawari and  one of their family members fondly known as Mama or Ghulam Mohammad Baqqal  embraced  Christianity  in the first quarter of 20th century . He was a student of  the CMS Tyndale Biscoe School,  Srinagar , where he came under the influence of some missionaries . The Muslim society in  Kashmir opposed this conversion. Baqqal had to remain in hiding for many days He was later known as Samuel Baqqal. Samuel was a brilliant student who after passing his matriculation from Punjab University , went to Allahabad for further studies where from he did his BA followed by a BT degree from Lahore . In Lahore,  his name was published in a paper as a brave Kashmiri who single handedly doused flames of a burning house and saved  some lives  and  property .

After his BT degree , he joined CMS Tyndale Biscoe school as teacher . Soon the first world war broke out and Samuel was selected as  the Secretary , YMCA . He was asked to go to France and Palestine with British ( Indian ) troops . He was the first YMCA Secretary to enter Jerusalem with Lord Allenby. Due to his amazing qualities of organisation and leadership , Samuel became quite popular and was later moved to Afghan war front where he was joined by Pandit Shanker Kaul ( headmaster CMS School, Srinagar ), Bhagwan Das and Suraj Raina ( both teachers in CMS School, Srrinagar ) to work for YMCA. Samuel Baqqal was later selected by Maharaja of Mysore ( who was on a private visit to Kashmir ) for starting and heading a CMS School in  the Mysore State  .He did this job to the entire satisfaction of the Maharaja . In Mysore , Samuel also started  Mysore Boy Scouts which earned accolades in India .
The Maharaja Sri Krishnaraja Wodeyar not only gave generous grants for the movement but also appointed his brother Yuvaraja Sri Kantirava Narasimharaja Wodeyar as the Chief Scout; who among the royal personages in India was the first to appear in public rallies in Khaki shirt and shorts, the uniform of the scouts.


While In Mysore ,he received a letter from his CMS School friends that the World War had created enormous hardships for the  Kashmiris from greedy and profiteering Galdhaars ( food grain sellers ), butchers , timber sellers and bakers who were backed by some government officials . The administration had actually failed to check black marketing in food grains . A food crisis had been created in the  Kashmir valley leading to many starvation deaths . Samuel Baqqal rushed back to Kashmir and the Maharaja of Kashmir appointed him as Executive Officer, State Granaries . The State Granaries were later known as Shaali Stores.His work to check prices and ensure smooth distribution through newly created Shalli Stores ( Public Distribution System ) earned him respect and admiration.


He married a girl from Bengal . Samuel had three children from this Marriage ; two daughters and a  son. The daughters were married in well off families while his son, Pran Nath  had a pathologists shop in Maharaja Bazar , Srinagar . Poet Farooq Nazki from Rainawari informs me that Pran Nath was also known as Mathieu and Nathi . This Baqqal family had cordial relations with their Muslim  cousins living at Kraalyaar  in Rainawari. This lone Christian family continued to live in Surateng Rainawari ( near the Fire Station ) in a grand building representing European architecture and style  spread in about half an acre plot duly fenced on all sides with a high brick wall . The family had their Christian friends visiting them from other parts of the city or from plains of the country .

My friend Kuldeep Machama would visit the family . From him I came to know that Samual’s  elderly widow  was living in the plains of the country  . She was from a Bengali Christian family  and was fondly called Granny by the family members .His grandson Rafi Sam Baqqal was also a brilliant boy and must be well settled in life. The family had a very good library that had books from many well known authors like Alexender Dumas, Charles Dickens and Somerset Maugham . The family would go to  the church on Sundays and celebrate Eid, Deepawali and Christmas happily. I have no knowledge of this family after 1990 . Samuel Baqqal died of pneumonia in 1927 at a young age of 33. He is  buried in Sheikh Bagh cemetery, Amira Kadal , Srinagar.  

( Avtar Mota )

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