Wednesday, June 26, 2013


( Ali sardar jafri 1913-2000)   


 Me Jahaan Tum Ko Bulaataa Huun Vahaan Tak Aao
Meri Nazaron Se Guzar Kar Dil-O-Jaan Tak Aao
Phir Ye Dekho Ki Zamaane Ki Havaa Hai Kaisee
Saath Mere Mere Firdaus-E-Javaan Tak Aao
Phuul Ke Gird Phiro Baag Mein Maanind-e-Naseem
Misl-e-Paravaanaa Kisi Sham-E-Tapaan Tak Aao
Lo Vo Sadiyon Ke Jahannum Ki Hadein Khatm Huyee
Ab Hai Firdaus Hi Firdaus Jahaan Tak Aao
Chhod Kar Vaham-O-Gumaan Husn-E-Yahqeen Tak Pahuncho
Par Yaqeen Se Bhi Kabhi Vaham-O-Gumaan Tak Aao

( ( Ali sardar Jafri ) )

              ( Below MOSCOW JANUARY 1960...
Ali sardar Jafri and Sultana Jafri with renowned Turkish Poet Nazim  Hikmet...   )

( Sardar with urdu poet Bekal Utsaahi . Both belong to Balrampur  )

 ((Prof. Zakia A. Siddiqi, Principal of Women's College Aligarh Receiving Poet Ali Sardar Jafri .In his address to girls and teachers , Sardar impressed upon social workers , leaders and and teachers to ensure 100% education of girls . “ Educating a girl is more important than educating a boy because today’s girl is tomorrow’s mother .  And in  a family , the child receives his first education from his mother only. So the mother has to be well informed and educated . This alone shall bring them out of Age old Darkness and ignorance.” He added )
( Sardar with his two sisters )
( Sardar at BBC London )
( Gyanpeeth Award  to the poet  being presented by  Atal Bihari vajapayee )
                                                          ( With Sibte Hassan )
(Sardar receiving an award from Indira Gandhi in 1965 )
( Happy Moments  Sardar ,Sultana and noted urdu writer Rajinder Singh Bedi )
( salma sidique , Dharmveer Bharti, Pushpa Bharti , Sardar and A member of Russian Cultural Delegation )
(sardar with Ismat Chugtai In a function )

(Naushad Ali ,Sardar jafri , Majrooh and kaifi Azmi )

                   ( Youthful Days .. Majrooh , Sardar jafri, kaifi Azmi and Ismat Chugtai In Hyderbad     )
                                           ( Sardar Jafri  In a Mushiara   Held At New Delhi )
( Dr Mulkh Raj Anand )

( Shabana and Javed Akhtar )
( Eminent Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan )
( Noted Writer and journalist Sardar Khushwant singh )


I remember Atal Bihari Vajpayee saying about sardar  jafri

 “ One may disagree with his political beliefs but none can overlook  the vision that this man has for the Humanity "  
 Vajpayee made the historic peace trip to Pakistan where  he  presented   SARHAD the first-ever album of anti-war poems of Sardar Jafri (sung by Seema Anil Sehgal) to his Pakistani counterpart. This was indeed the greatest tribute to the poetic vision of Sardar. Vajpayee has been  a personal friend and an admirer of Sardar .

On this initiative from Vajpayee  Leading Newspapers wrote

“Where politics had failed, poetics triumphed ”

“ Tum Aao Gulshan e Lahore se chaman Bardosh

Hum Aayein Subh e Benaras Ki Roshinin Le kar

Himalaya ke hawaaon Ki Taazigi Le kar

Aur oss ke baad Yeh Poochein Ki Kaun Dushaman Hai ..”

( Ali Sardar jafri )

(You Bring us flowers from the Garden of Lahore

We bring the Dawn of Benaras for you ,

We bring the fresh Himalayan breeze for you,

Then let us sit down and ask each other  ,

“Who Is the enemy Now ? )


 “I met him in Lucknow university through sultana . I kept track of him through sutana who had joined Lahore radio station in 1944 . she was transferred to Bombay possibly in 1946.
Sardar was a true nationalist ,a tall thinker and protagonist of composite culture of India .His sympathy for the poor and marginalized was beyond belief .This is evident in his writing as well.

Hum Kahaan Jhaayein kahein kis se ki Nadaar Hain Hum,
Kis ko samjhaayein Ghulami ke Gunehgaar hain Hum
( Where do we go ?To whom should we tell that we are poor ?
And to whom should we explain that we are guilty of Bondage. )

Since I was also associated with the communist movement , I initially shifted to Mumbai after the partition of the country . Here I renewed my contacts with Sardar and other progressive writers like Bedi , krishen chander , Kaifi and sahir.
Later when I was country’s ambassador in Moscow, I had the privilege of hosting many dinners and receiving many Indian delegations of Writers from the country . Sardar and Sultana would also come . Sardar ‘s Charismatic presence was liked by many writers from communist countries . Many Russian Poets sought translation of his poems . Babajan a scholar from Tajikstan even set up an Asian Studies centre in Russia and sought Sardar's help. Academician Asimov became Sardar ’s friend . He had a deep study of Russian poet Mayakovsky and the American poet Walt Whitman .In fact he brought Urdu much closer to Hindi by associating with leading Hindi writers of his time..His work on kabir and Mirabai is unmatched to this day .
One quality with sardar was that he never told you of his financial difficulties . He never asked for a personal favour . He was never after money or material things . A good company of friends , a heart full of compassion for the poor ,love for children, optimism, humanism and strong belief in Indo Pak Peace were some traits of his impressive personality.
In the year 2000, I and my wife went to see him in Bombay hospital where he lay terminally ill with a brain Tumour . His eyes were open and looking far behind. He could not talk . Sultana’s gentle nudging could not make him to look at us . He was possibly thinking of returning to this country again . Returning to its seasons , rivers , lakes , flowers and chirping birds .I and my wife knew how much he loved this country .

But, I'll come here again,
Speak through children's voices,
Sing in the call of birds.
When seeds smile under the earth,
And seedlings, with their nimble fingers
Caress the layers of soil,

I'll open my eyes
Through every bud,
On my green palm,
I'll balance the droplets of dew.
I'll become the glow of cheeks,
The beat of melodies.
Like the blush of a modest bride,
I'll sparkle through every veil.
When the wintry winds blow
And the autumn leaves fall,
Under the lively feet of travelers,
My laughter will sound
In the crunching of dry leaves.
( Ali Sardar jafri )


“ Sardar was a rebel, freedom fighter, pacifist, radical activist, storywriter, critic and documentary filmmaker at once. But, above all, he was a poet endowed with exquisite imagination, one of the brightest stars on the firmament of twentieth-century Urdu poetry. Like all great poets he was a prophet engaged in unraveling the mysteries and ambiguity of human drama. The principal theme of his poetry was compassion, love, perseverance and sensitivity surviving amidst the callous inhumanity of our times. In his unique style he depicted the exemplary survival of the human spirit in the face of all-pervasive adversity and defeatism. In so doing he not only carried forward the traditions of Urdu poetry but also enriched its treasure with new symbols and powerful imagery. Indeed, his poetry gradually evolved into a genre of its own kind whose influence is difficult to ignore among the present generation of Urdu poets. Some of the poems really enthralled the hearts and minds of all and sundry and transcended the dry logic of political economy.
This blood, the fragrance of lips;
this blood, the light of eyes;
this blood, the color of the cheek;
this loo, the peace of the heart;
sun of Mount Faran and Light of Sina and Tur;
flame of the word of truth, pain of a restless soul;
the light of the word of God, the expression of Light Divine;
This blood, my blood, thy blood, everybody’s blood.
(“Yeh  Lahu”)

(From In Memoriam Ali Sardar Jafri ..A write up by  Irfan Ahmed .Gratefully reproduced .)

(4 )


Har Aashiq hai sardar yahaan 
Har Mashooqa Sultana Hai 

( Ali Sardar jafri )

“ Sardar and I met for the first time in Lucknow university in 1939. I was doing my MA in political science and sardar was studying English literature .In 1944 I joined AIR Lahore and Kartar Singh Duggal was my colleague over there . Later he married my sister Ayesha and became our close relative.
Sardar had many friends but he was very close to Krishen Chander . There was a perfect rapport between the two..I have spent 52 years with Sardar and his circle included Faiz , I K Gujral,Rajinder Singh Bedi , Mukh Raj Anand , Kaifi , Dilip Kumar , ramanand sagar , Jaan Nissar Akhtar, Sahir, Majrooh , K A Abbas ,Ismat Chugtai , Qurratulain Hyder and Many more .His two unmarried sisters stayed with us . sardar looked after them most affectionately.Today grown up children dread the thought of living with their parents leave alone taking care of them. Sardar hardly owned anything . Both of us never bought material things even if we had money. It was a state of mind and a conviction .many a time children asked us why we did not have a car .We lived in rented accommodation for many years and kept on shifting from one house to another . Finally Sardar raised some loans from friends and bought a small flat for Rs52000/- in 1967. Sardar smoked endlessly but in 1968 he suffered from angina and stopped smoking altogether . He did not give up his drinks .

On january 30, 1948 sardar and I rode the local bus and went to the office of registrar of marriages . Sardar the bridegroom had three rupees in his pocket .Krishen chander K A Abbas and Ismat Chugtai were witness to our civil marriage .Later Ismat celeberated the occasion and took us out for ice cream.
After the marriage we lived in Andheri commune . Kaifi and shaukat were already living there .Sardar was an incorrigible optimist . Inspired by Rumi’s lines Hamcho sabza Baarha Roeeda Aayam ( like the green of the earth , we never stop growing ), he summed up the story of his life in his poem MERA SAFAR .

Aur neeli fazaa ki makhmal par
hansti hui heerey ki yeh kani
yeh meri jannat, meri zameen
iss ki subhein, iss ki shaamein
bey jaaney huey, bey samjhay huey
ik musht ghubaar-e-insaan par
shabnam ki tarah ro jaayangi
har cheez bhula di jaayegi
yaadon key haseen but khaaney sey
har cheez uthaa di jaayegi
phir koi nahin yeh puchhega
SARDAR kahaan hai mehfil mein
lekin mein yahaan phir aaoonga
bachchon key dahan sey boloonga
chirhyon ki zabaan sey gaaonga
aur saraa zamaanah dekhegaa
har qissah mera afsaanah hai
har aashiq hai sardaar yahaan
har maashooqan sultanaah hai

On the blue velvet of space
that luminous crystal of diamond,
and these—my heaven and earth,
the nights and the mornings all
without knowing, without understanding
on the human handful of dust.
will shed tears of dew
Every cherished thing will go, plucked
from memory’s fine pagan shrine.
And then no friend will ask a friend:
“Why don’t we see Sardar today?”
Yet I will return here once again
to speak out of the mouths of babies,
to warble with the tongues of birds.
The world will see under my star
every tale become my story,
where every lover is Sardar
and every love is my Sultana.
( Ali Sardar jafri )

He never possessed or wore black garment .Though he was deep in Marxism , he would often tell children “God Bless You ”. He had simple eating habbits . He enjoyed Arhar Daal , Pulaav and kebabs.
A child begging in streets moved Sardar to tears . Whatever change or small notes he had in his pocket , he would offer to this child. *Nazim was born during the days when Sardar was arrested and kept in a jail for being a communist . He was sent to Nashik Jail . I would go to the jail with little Nazim in my lap and a bagful of cigarettes for him.And then on Idd day Sardar was released and he knocked at the door . Sardar held me in embrace . Little Nazim gazed at the stranger who had the Audacity to hold his mother in embrace .Sardar hugged and kissed his son for the first time .That Idd has remained most memorable in my life.”



“He gave me my name shabana . My grand father had suggested kaneez Fatima . And now I believe my name has shaped my life. For this I am thankful to Sardar jafri only.
we lived in Khetwadi commune and each family had just one room . By each family I mean sudhir joshi , sawant , My father kaifi Azmi , sardar jafri . The strip of balcony attached to the room was converted to a kitchen by each family. We shared common Toilets .The residents had a common drawing Room called Red Hall which was used for party Meetings .His son Nazim had coined the word Doda for sardar as he could not pronounce Dady . So we also called sardar Uncle as Doda .children were his weakness . He always played with children and devoted his time to them.
He always looked elegant in his clothes . It could be a two piece suit or a kurta Pyjama .And the fingers that he ran stylishly through his long hair attracted attention.
He was 84 years old when his younger sister died . Her death shattered him. I have yet to see a brother so affectionate as sardar . He used to take Taxi to hospital everyday to see that his sister ate home made food. He was a real human being much above narrow caste or religion divide .
Another aspect of Sardar Jafri’s personality that deserves mention is his intellect and stature as a charismatic personality. He had a presence, which commanded respect and admiration. He was perhaps one of the most learned men of our times.”
Ghareeb Sita ke ghar pe kab tak rahegi Ravan ki hukmrani
Draupadi ka libas uske badan se kab tak chhina karega
Shakuntala kab tak andhi taqdeer ke bhanwar mein phansi rahegi
Yeh Lukhnow ki shiguftagi maqbaron mein kab tak dabi rahegi
( Ali Sardar Jafri )

(How long will Ravan rule over the home of poor Sita
How long will Draupadi be deprived of her garment
How long will Shakuntala be enmeshed in the abyss of fate
How long will the freshness of Lucknow remain buried under the imposing tombs?)
(from Awadh ki Khak-i-Haseen )


“Sardar You have accomplished the purpose for which I write. This poem Asia Jaag Uthaa or Asia Awakens  is an expansion of Iqbal’s Message as conveyed in Payaam e Mashriq. The poem has been written with ink of your Heart’s blood. What a beautiful hope you have put up for life against death in our time? ”
(Asia Awakens)

This is the soil of Asia,
The womb of civilisation,
The land of culture.
It was here that
The sun opened its eyes.
It was here that
The first dawn of humanity
Unveiled its beauty.
It was here that
Ancient ages lighted
Their lamps of science and wisdom.
It was from this height that
The Vedas sang their happy songs.
From here did the Buddha
Teach the lesson of equality.
From here did Mazdak
Sing the songs of love and justice.
The winds of our history
Have heard the words of the Christ.
Our sun has shone
On the head of Mohammed.
This is the soil
Which has borne
The sheaves of grain;
It is as ancient
As the story of mankind;
It is as majestic
As the tall peaks of Himalayas;
It is as beautiful
As the nymphs of Ajanta
It is as generous
As the kind waters
Of the Ganges and the Nile;
This fertile lap is filled
With children and flowers.

Our heritage extends
From Mohenjo Daro
To the great wall of China,
Our history, from the Taj
To the pyramids of Giza,
Our treasures, from Babylon
To Nineveh.
Since our childhood,
Eloquence has kissed our lips,
And poetry sung lullabies to us.
Our tongues have learnt
The Vedas, Gospels and the Quran.
Our imagination has already touched
Those soaring heights, where shine
The suns of Firdausi and Saadi,
Nizami, Khayyam and Hafiz;
The heights, where hold sway
Valmkik, the revered Tulsi,
Kabeer and Surdas;
The heights, where resound
The lute of Iqbal,
The songs of Tagore.

This is the soil of Asia,
The womb of civilisation,
The land of culture,
Her peasant, a wooden plough
In his aged hands;
Her poor workers
With burning, tired eyes;
Ships, sailors, songs, storms,
Potters, blacksmiths,
Milkmaids bathed in milk;
Old story tellers,
Sitting round a fire;
Innocent faces of little children
Safe in their mothers' laps;
Fields of ripe crops,
Cows and buffaloes;
Tinkling of glass bangles
In green fields;
Dreary deserts,
Silent and profound like prophets;
Flowing tresses of date palms;
Pomegranate flowers, mango blossoms;
Granaries, heaps of cow-dung cakes;
Dancing virgins of winding pathways.

Long and lovely rivers
Kissing with their waves
The tremblings lips of their banks;
Gentle waterfalls
At the slender waists
Of beauteous bridal valleys;
Blue bowls in mountain palms;
Stars reflecting in lake mirrors;
Loving arms
Of the Ganges and Jamuna
Round the neck
Of the Himalayas;
The shawl of blue ice
On the head of mountain storms.

This is Asia,
Young, fresh, and fertile,
Whose poor, penniless children,
Bute at the poisonous snake of hunger;
Their lips never tasted milk
After leavings their mothers' breasts;
Their tongues have never tasted
The bread of wheat;
Their backs have never felt
The touch of clean, white cloth;
Their hands have never held a book;
Their feet know nothing
Of shoes and slippers;
Their heads are strangers
To the soft delight of a pillow;
They regard their hunger
As their food:
These unique creatures
Will be found only
In the Paradise of Asia;
Still 'animals'
Even after three centuries
Of imperial 'civilisation.'

Where are you,
You bearers of the torch of 'culture'?
Come and see
The sideshow of your 'culture.'

Nowhere else will you see
Such pitiful faces.
Every corner of this earth,
You have filled with
Your regal memorials.
Here, you have reared
An arch of victory,
There, pillars of your arrogance;
Here, you have cast
Horses of bronze,
There, statues of stone:
But they do not represent
Your culture and civilisation.
Call your sculptors and painters,
To adorn your museums
With these pitiful faces,
As the lasting memorial
To your mighty deeds.

Now, in Asia we have
A forest of hands,
Fists of white marble,
Of dark granite.
O bride of the dawn of spring,
We are waiting to adorn you with
A fistful of twilight's vermilion,
Flowers of moon and stars,
Rouge of red sunbeams.
( Ali Sardar Jafri )


“ Sardar’s credo rested on a very strong commitment to rationalist thought . He was a champion of diversity .He felt that if individuals are to retain that measure of flexibility and initiative ,which they ought to have ,they must not be forced into one mould ;or, to change metaphor , all drilled into one army. sardar felt that political parties may come and go but INDIA is too precious a civilization entity to be used as a pawn on chessboard of opportunist politics . His vision did not cease even after the collapse of Communism or Socialism.

Sardar was a symbol of our cultural renaissance .His personality was eloquence , refinement and commitment redefined .

He shared the joy of freedom from the British but strongly bemoaned the division of his dear Country .
 love for INDIA was deeply engraved in his heart . When his dear country was in trouble , no cause was greater than fighting for the unity and integrity of his motherland . Sardar Rose like a pillar of strength for the country in protesting against china’s aggression .

Neither Chengiz lives any longer , Nor Timur ,
What has survived are the people .
The youthful waves of the ocean of the time,
Gush and flow from eternity to eternity ,
Ours is a story of Millennia;
For we are invincible , Eternal.
We are the designs and patterns of civilizations,
We are the aspirations of hearts ,
We have been over engaged in struggles ,
We are the sharp swords of history . 


“ I had heard him reciting his poem MERA SAFAR . I was touched by what Sardar Bhai has conveyed through this poem . And then One day I told him that I want to convey the essence of the poem in Kathak. He felt happy. I am always touched by the opening lines of this poem. All of us have to face it one day .

( ALI Sardar jafri )

Such a day will arrive again
when the lamps of the eyes will get extinguished;
the lotus of the hands will get withered
and each butterfly of speech and voice
will flee from the leaf of the tongue.
All faces that blossom like buds,
chuckle like flowers,
the circling of blood, the beats of heart,
all such symphonies will go to sleep…

These immortal lines convey his coming to terms with DEATH. These thoughts, I believe keep swirling in every one’s mind . Perhaps it was this very fact that translated itself instinctively as a dancer’s story through the medium of dance for the philosophical depth of the poem had consumed me and haunted me in my dreams for a longtime.
My meetings and discussion with him provided me a glimpse into his inner strength , courage , conviction and the deep sense of commitment to the most important religion of all religions , namely , universal brotherhood. He celebrated Idd, Moharram, Dussera and diwali with same verve.
It was sardar Bhai who introduced me to the wonderful world of Ghalib’s charaag e Dair ; a mind blowing reference to the spirituality of Benaras . To me he was a big brother . Kind and warm hearted person who was always ready for help . A real gifted soul who had a profound knowledge of all types of performing ARTS”


“Ali Sardar also had a phenomenal memory. If I quoted one line of any Urdu poet, he would come out with the rest of the poem. And explain every word by referring to Persian poets - from Rumi, Hafiz to Ghalib and Allama Iqbal. When I set about translating Iqbal's Shikwa and Jawab-e-Shikwa, I went all the way to Bombay to seek his assistance. For two days Ali Sardar and Sultana came to my hotel in the morning; we worked till lunch time when Rafiq Zakaria and his wife Fatma joined us to find out how it was going. After they left, we resumed our labours till it was time for our sundowners.
I saw him often when he came to Delhi to record Kamna Prasad's series, Kahkashaan (Milky Way), on contemporary Urdu poets. And later to participate in the Jashn-e-Bahaar mushairas organised by Kamna to bring Pakistani and Urdu poets together on one stage every year. He presided over the last one a few months before he died. He had an imposing presence: he was a lean, tall man with a mop of untidy, tousled grey hair, sparkling dark eyes and ever-smiling face. His voice held his audience spell-bound. His message to Pakistan at a time when Indo-Pak relations were at their worst was one of peace:

Tum aao gulshan-e-Lahore se chaman bardosh,
Hum aayen subh-e-Banaras ki roshnee le kar
Himalay ki havaaon ki taazgee le kar
Aur iske baad yeh poochein ki kaun dushman hai?
( Ali Sardar Jafri )

(You come from the garden of of Lahore laden with flowers,
We will come bearing the light of a Benares morning
With fresh breezes from Himalayan heights
And then, together we can ask, who is the enemy?)
Ali Sardar was an incorrigible optimist. Inspired by Rumi's line, Hum cho sabza baarha roeeda aym (like the green of the earth we never stop growing), he summed up his life story (Mera Safar) in a few memorable lines:

I am a fleeting moment
In the magic house of days and nights;
I am a restless drop travelling eternally
From the flask of the past to the goblet of the future.
I sleep and wake, awake to sleep again.


He wrote to instill courage , patriotism  and unity amongst the people who had remained divided for ages. He brought new metaphors  by using words like NIVALA, MILL,HAATH ,MACHINE and  BHOOKH . Urdu poetry was taken out from drawing rooms and Bars to fields, factories and workshops . 
Sardar was a personal friend of Paul Robson ( American Actor and singer ), Nazim Hikmet ( Turkish poet )and Pablo Neruda ( Chilean poet and Nobel laureate ).Any one who came close to him was enthused by his towering personality and  his a deep conviction.
Jafri was a strong proponent of permanent peace in south east Asia. He desired , worked for and  supported peace and friendship between India and Pakistan.His poem  Subh e Farda or  “Tomorrow’s Morning  ” powerfully conveys this ideology and commitment  of Sardar .
The morning of Tomorrow
The setting imperial sun
broke into two parts
On this very Border, yesterday.
The dawn of freedom was wounded
On this very Border, yesterday.
This is the Border of blood,
Tears, sights, and sparks,
Where we had sown hatred
And reaped a harvest of swords.

Here, stars struggled
In the eyes of dear ones.
Here, beloved faces
Flickered in streams of tears.
Here, a mother lost her sons,
A brother, his sister.

This border thrives on blood,
Breathes flames of despise
She slithers like a snake
On the bosom of our land.
She comes to the battlefield
Crested with all her weapons

This is the Border of flowers,
Of springs and fanciful colours,
Smiling like a rainbow,
Trailing sinously like a stream,
Swaying senuously like a stream,
On the cheeks of the land,
Like the parting in a bride's hair
Which does divide the hair,
But with the sword of vermillion,
The loving finger of sandle-wood.

This is the Border of the beloved,
Of lover and soulds, restless in love.
This is the Border of friends,
of brothers and well-wishers.
Let the sun shine on it
Like a benevolent guard.
Let the stars and moon
Watch over it during night
Let the earth bow
Under the weight of its crops
Let it be raided
By armies of green trees.
Let God protect it
From the eyes of the evil.
Let it remain safe from
the traders in blood.

Let it be trampled
By the steel feet of industry.
Let there be an onslaught
Of the hands of artisans.
Let the flowers of sparks
Fly from the bosom of the rocks
Let tall mountains fold
In the lap of the adze.
Let the thirst of the lips
Mould its own Saki and cups.
As the eyes of the afflicted
Shine with Joy.
Let love be the ruler,
Beauty the murderer
Let the heart be messiah,
The gardens be gutted
By the fire of flowers.
I wish for the day when
Hatred is drainded away with tears.
I wish for the day when,
This Border becomes the kiss of lips.

This is the Border of
The bold courageous martyrs.
This is the Border of
The horsemen of the land of heart.
This is the Border of
The breeze of the gardens
of Lahore and Delhi.
This is the Border of
The heart-warming dreams
Of freedom and peace.
This is the Border of
The roses of love,
Wounded, soaked in blood.

I stand on this Border
Waiting for the morning of tomorrow.
( Ali sardar Jafri )

( Autar Mota 26.06.2013 ... 1.10 AM ... Good Night )

( Source Material   for this write up ....ALI SARDAR JAFRI: THE YOUTHFUL BOATMAN OF JOY,  A Book published by Bharatiya Jnanpith and Edited by Squadron Leader Anil Sehgal and also some  Relevant  Articles from News papers and Magazines. My special Thanks to Squadron Leader Anil Sehgal  for this post .  )
Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\\.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013



( Journalist , Diplomat and Author )




“ FROM PARTITION TO OPERATION BLUE STAR ..Tales of a Journalist , Bureaucrat and spy. ”
Price Rs399/=
Published by Harper Collins
BY Som Nath Dhar

*Som Nath Dhar started his career as a Journalist based in Lahore sometime during 1946 . After partition of the country ,he moved to Delhi where he worked as personal assistant to Pandit jawahar Lal Nehru for some time . This assignment made him privy to some great events that shaped India’s future . Later he joined Central Information services and also had a diplomatic assignment .He also workedin Kenya and Austria as a senior officer for Country’s Premier Intelligence Agency RAW and finally returned to AIR as Director News . After retirement he taught at Indian institute of Mass communication and later moved to Singapore in 2010 to live with his daughters . He left for his heavenly abode in Dec 2012 . The book was launched in April 2013 by his daughters Pam ( Pamposh Dhar )and Tara ( Tara Dhar Hasnain) both based in Singapore .

It is a well known fact that Quite often what comes up on surface for public consumption on the political showground may not be the true inside story . But those who are witness to behind the curtain activity of events can measure the gap between what actually happened and what later appeared for public consumption. Som Nath Dhar was one such privileged person. As writer,he minces no words to reveal and truthfully convey behind the curtain activity of some such incidents that shaped the destiny of Modern India . He presents them in his truthful , impeccable and straight style that keeps the reader engrossed ....................

One chapter in the book deals with the  arrest of Sheikh Mohd Abdullah in 1953.  The author clears a lot of cloud and controversy with regard to role of Pandit ji in the arrest of his friend  and ally sheikh Mohd Abdullah .Contrary to popular perception and belief  on this issue ,  Nehru reluctantly bowed to all round pressure mounted on him for this action and  did not initiate this action at his level. I quote from the book.

“ Late one night in 1953 , my brother in law asked me to go with him to See Pandit Nehru . He had a letter with him from Bakshi Ghulam Mohd., The deputy prime minister of J&K. Bakshi was Sheikh Abdullah ‘s right hand man since even before the accession , but he felt that he could no longer support Sheikh sahib. I reached there in the middle of the night ., around 1.30 AM.  Nehru was  by now living in Teen Murti House .We found the lights on  in the first floor study of Pandit Nehru . **Mathai took us to meet Pandit ji in his study and we delivered the letter. Pandit  ji looked tired and unhappy.. Soon after this sheikh Abdullah was arrested  in   Gulmarg and replaced by Bakshi Ghulam Mohd as Prime Minister   of J&K  …..It was not only the Sheikh’s  own cabinet ministers  who opposed him. He had lost support at the centre too,  especially from Maulana azad and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai . Kidwai was one of those who persuaded Nehru of the need for action and Pandit ji reluctantly agreed…
Nehru was extremely unhappy  at the turn of events  and he could not reconcile to the incarceration of his friend and political associate Sheikh Mohd Abdullah .later when the Kashmir Conspiracy case against Sheikh Mohd Abdullah proved  to be weak ,  Nehru pushed for his release .

During the period Sheikh Abdullah was behind bars , Nehru did everything possible to mitigate his suffering , including looking after the well being of Begum Abdullah and their sons .Whenever the sons came back from UK, they were received at the Airport by Uncle Nehru’s car and at times by Mathai................................. ”

One  more  chapter in this book deals with death of Maulana Azad in 1958.  Apart from being a tall National leader ,Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was well versed in many languages viz. Arabic, English, Urdu, Hindi, Persian and Bengali. Maulana  was a brilliant debater, as indicated by his name, Abul Kalam, which literally means "Lord of dialogue" He adopted the pen name Azad as a mark of his mental emancipation from a narrow view of religion and life.
Som Nath Dhar   has presented Maulana in right perspective.  So has he presented Nehru as a lonely man after the death or absence of   his close comrades or those who had  worked with him for building a new India .. Nehru for sure  missed Gandhi ji , Maulana Azad , sardar  Patel and  Rafi  Ahmed Kidwai who had passed away . He equally  missed Acharya Kriplani, Purshotam Dass Tandon and C. Rajgopalachari who had been his close associates but had parted company with him.. He needed some one   around for support and guidance. i quote from the book…

“Maulana  was the last of the National Leaders who called Pandit ji by his first name “ Jawahar ”. Pandit ji had immense respect for him as an elder statesman , a politician of vision , a thinker . a philosopher , writer , poet and a Muslim scholar  of International repute . The void created by his death could not be filled up by anyone. He  Had been a leader of freedom  struggle and then a cabinet minister of free India. He had been one of the most prominent muslim leaders to support Hindu Muslim unity , opposing partition of India  along communal lines. After independence, he became the education minister ,but his influence went far  beyond this portfolio , which itself was very important at that crucial period in history . At one stage , he had even succeeded in hammering out a tripartite agreement to give independence to a united India . Obviously this agreement did not hold good.
When Maulana died ,the entire central  Vista ( The vast India Gate Lawns ) was full of people ;it put one in mind of Mahatma  Gandhi’s funeral .Lakhs queued up to have last glimpse of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who had been in public life since 1920................”

This author has been witness to many proceedings or discussions  inside the parliament  involving  tall personalities  like Maulana Azad , Dr Ambedkar , Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Morar Ji Desai, Jag Jeevan Ram, S K Patl, Y B Chavan and many more  .  The author  observes as under

“ Whereas shyama Prasad Mukherjee’ speeches were full of emotion and sentiment , Dr Ambedkar used logic and argument . Nehru always spoke extempore . His speeches , particularly in English, were thought provoking and showed concern about the  future of India.................”

The author of the book is of a firm view that during the entire trauma of partition , Nehru’s vision and sardar patel’s indefatigable exertion  contributed largely in saving the situation for the country........................

The author has described in detail the signing of instrument of accession in Delhi where Sheikh Mohd Abdullah was already camping as Pandit Ji’s ( Jawahar  Lal Nehru) guest .The author also gives a vivid description of sheikh’s eagerness to go to Kashmir to lead civil  administration in driving out raiders .While in srinagar , Bakshi engaged himself in organizing people’s resistance against the Tribal raiders . I quote from the book .

“ During Tribal raid in Kashmir ,Bakshi Ghuilam Mohd organized the people’s resistance to the invasion as best as he could. He collected a volunteer force armed with hockey sticks , punting poles , daggers , and a few rifles and shotguns collected from shikaris( Hunters ) and police stations .He called this ramshackle force KASHMIR MILITIA . The volunteers were deployed in small batches around srinagar ‘s seven bridges and told to patrol the area and make a great din by shouting slogans and firing in the air to create the illusion of a big force preparing to meet the raiders who were camping at chattabal.a suburb of srinagar city .

With the signing of instrument of accession and the decision by the government of India to send troops to Kashmir , Sheikh Abdullah wanted to go to srinagar by the first available plane .late in the afternoon , kachru asked me to accompany V P Menon , Sheikh Abdullah to Delhi’s Palam Airport where an Air Force plane was waiting . Sheikh was anxious to get to Kashmir and help in driving out the raiders . we were in a chevrolet Impala which was being driven at 70 -80 kms per hour speed , But sheikh wanted to go faster and faster .Menon , Kachru and I were afraid that his impatience might land us in Hospital with broken bones . Despite the fast drive , the light was fading by the time we reached the Palam .
When we were told that it was too late to fly to srinagar , sheikh Abdullah was crestfallen and large tears rolled down his cheeks .Back at Pandit ji’s house , he was like a caged Tiger . Every few minutes he talked to Bakshi Ghulam Mohd who was holding the fort in srinagar . “Hold on for one more night ,For god’sake.I will be there tomorrow morning on the first flight ” he told Bakshi......................................... ”

Som Nath Dhar also has a word of praise for Vasant sathe . I add relevant excerpts from the Book ..

“ I was lucky that the first minister I worked with as Director News AIR was Vasant Sathe . I found him to be fair minister , ready to accept reasonable suggestions from those who reported to him. He did not interfere in day to day functioning of the news room and allowed us a degree of autonomy. He was that rare breed of ministers who actually stood up for his staff , as he did for me on at least one occasion. 
In 1982, Vasant Sathe was replaced by HKL Bhagat as minister for information and broadcasting .As Minister he was not only interested in furthering the interests of the congress party , but in bolstering his own image as well……. One day Bhagat asked us to cover three day SATSANG ( Religious gathering ) of his guru in Hissar . This was a bit too much for me .There were many such unreasonable requests resulting in tussles , but I managed to keep the worst out of the AIR news bulletins . Door Darshan did not always fare so well.”

I have personally heard Vasant Sathe during early eighties in Srinagar . He had come for Shamim Ahmed Samim Memorial Lectures . He was impressive in his demeanor and oratory . He spoke inside the large Shamiyana erected near Residency Road  press enclave quarters ( Near State Motor Garages ) . His language was Hindustani, a mixture of Urdu and Hindi .I vividly remember the couplet of Allama Iqbal that he added to finish his speech ..

Amal Se Zindagi Banti Hai Jannat Bhi, Jahanum Bhi
Ye Khaki Apni Fitrat Mein Na Noori Hai Na Naari Hai
( Allama Iqbal )

By action life may become both paradise and hell;
This creature of dust in its nature is neither of light nor of fire......................................................

‘Wattan ki shaan ke Liye 
Gareeb Awaam Ke Liye 
Ye keh Rahein hain Kamraaj 
Ke congress ko vote do’

“ for Glory to our nation
For the poor masses of our country
Kamraaj appeals to everyone
To vote for congress party ”

This was an advertisement by DAVP played before the start of the movie “ Naya kanoon “ in Pladium cinema Lal chowk , srinagar . My father had taken me for an evening show of this movie. It was possibly 1966 if I remember correctly . I was a small kid and I still remember some loveliest songs of this movie .

1 Leejiye Dil ka Nazraana , Leejiye Aankh Ka shukraana

2 Shama mein Taaqat Kahaan jo ek Parwaane mein hai

3 Kuchh Aisi Pyaari Shaqal Mere Dilruba ki hai

These things apart , I came to know about a new word in the DAVP advertisement . KAMRRAJ ! I asked my father what is Kamraaj? He replied

“ Kamraaj is an illiterate man who has become congress president . He looks very simple in dress and appearance but is very tactful and clever politician . ”

Later as I grew I came to know more about Kamraaj.A dhoti clad man who preferred to move in sandals which he liked to through away once he sat on a chair .I also remember that he devised a Plan and killed many birds with one stone. I mean consolidation of congress party after the Chinese aggression , bringing in new faces for organizational work , getting rid of corrupt chief Ministers like Bakshi Ghulam Mohd and Partap Singh Kairon and changing some other Ministers and chief Ministers whom Pandit Nehru did not like. One amongst them being the inflexible Morar Ji Desai.….


Let us see what Author Som Nath Dhar says in his Book ..

I Quote

“By the time the scheme , which came to be known as Kamraaj Plan , was submitted to The All India congress committee , it had expanded to cover every important political leader at the centre as well as in the states .They all handed over their resignations to the prime Minister . Nehru allowed Home minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and Finance Minister Morar Ji Desai to leave the cabinet ……..Kamraaj’s resignation was also accepted as the chief Minister of Madras ( Now Tamil Nadu )and he was elected as the congress president in october 1963.

Prime Minister Bakshi Ghulam Mohd also resigned as a courtesy to he was leader of national Conference and not congress party , this should have been a mere formality . But Nehru , Probably influenced by the charges of corruption against Bakshi Ghulam Mohd , accepted his resignation .This , in my opinion was Nehru second big mistake in Kashmir , after taking the Kashmir issue to the United nations back in 1948.It waas the second time the centre had played a role in removing a kashmiri prime minister , setting a precedent that could only increase mistrust the centre and the state ………This time the action was taken directly by the centre , although it did not have the support of some kashmiri politicians , including Ghulam Mohd Sadiq , Syed Mir qasim and D P Dhar .If corruption was Bakshi Ghulam Mohd’s crime , it did not stop with his ouster . But India lost a staunch ally in Kashmir and Kashmir lost a leader who had brought a great deal of progress to the state .. Worst of all , Bakshi was replaced by a nonentity , Khwaja Shamas Ud Din, who was so much a follower of Bakshi that he would not make any decision without first consulting his predecessor . So nothing was gained – but quite a lot was lost...................................... ”

He writes simple facts about some leaders that give the reader a great peep into their personalities . Incidents of turbulent 1947 in the country , Pakistan sponsored tribal raid in kashmir and accession of the state to union of India have been truthfully dealt with a journalistic precision. The author also covers events leading to indira Gandhi ‘s rise to power , her fall from grace and her comeback to supremacy . The book is full of interesting anecdotes tempting the reader to finish it in one go . Every page unfolds interesting stories that keep you immersed . The author does not pass judgments on events but skillfully conveys what he has observed .I find the Book interesting and quite absorbing..


“Pandit ji’s Bunglow at 17 York Road was totally unguarded and anybody could walk into the main hall of the house , which was used as reception room.Looking at the tight security that surrounds prime ministers and other VIPs today , the free movement of people at Pandit ji’s residence seems like a dream . No entries had to be made in any register , No names were asked –People just walked in and out at will.

One evening , a uniformed Khaskar ( a member of Hyderbad based militant organization tacitly supported by Nizam ) carrying a sharpened Belcha ( Spade ), the khaskar’s weapon of choice , walked into the reception room and demanded to see Pandit ji. He said he was carrying a letter from his chief , Syed Attah Ullah Shah Bukhari , which he wanted to hand over to Pandit ji personally . Our pleas to him to give the letter to either Mathai or to me did not succeed . While we were arguing with him , Pandit ji came back from the office . He asked why we were arguing . Mathai told him about the letter and Pandit ji said ,”Don’t stop him. Let him come to me ”.
The khaskar walked up smartly to Pandit ji , saluted him and delivered the letter. Both Mathai and I watched the scene, crestfallen .”

“By 1960 , I started my assignment in  srinagar , There were already  rumours about corruption in Bakshi Ghulam Mohd’s regime .When I asked him about it , he did not deny  it, But offered an explanation of sorts .He said “ sheikh Abdullah had to be toppled . He had become a Phantom and in order to keep the Phantom bottled up , certain price had to be paid. ”

“ Nadir Shah was advancing On Delhi ,burning whole villages along the way .MuhammAd shah is said to have answered " ***Hanooz Dilli Door Ast "  ( Delhi is still far way ) and gone back to his singing and dancing sessions The Maharaja of kashmir , Sir Hari Singh , behaved like Muhammad shah Rangila after he was told that the Marauding Kabalis ( Tribal Raiders ) were converging on the state capital . Instead of taking command of his army and going to the front , he decided to go ahead with Dusshera celebrations on 25th October ,while the valley was I flames around him.. The celebrations consisted of colourful parade by the state forces , followed by a glittering Durbar at night , where all the nobles and important citizens presented the Maharaja with a Nazarana ( offering in cash and Kind ). ……. While Baramulla was being sacked , men and women being massacred the Maharaja merrily went through the ceremonies ........ The hall was lit with chandeliers imported from Vienna , Prague and the middle of the ceremonies , the lights suddenly went off . The whole of Kashmir valley was plunged into Darkness as the raiders had burnt and destroyed the Power House at Mohra .”
“ I prepared daily press digest for Pandit ji .Culling editorial opinions and preparing the digest after reading a number of newspapers kept me busy from morning till late in the evening , when Pandit ji read it . He was keen to know the opinions of a few leading editors like M. Chelapati Rau ( Known as MC ) of the national Herald , Lala Durga Dass of Hindustan Times , Tarun kanti Ghosh of Amrita Bazar Patrika and editors of Hindu and Tribune.Nehru appeared to value M C’s opinion the most , reacting very spontaneously to what he wrote .”

“ During Partition riots in Delhi , I continued to live with my sister and brother in law in Lodi estate . They were able to offer sanctuary to some of their Muslim friends . Two eminent Muslim leaders Saif ud din Kitchlu and Ghulam Mohd Sadiq stayed with us through the worst of rioting in Delhi.”

“ Although Nehru was born in Allahabad, he was, of course, a Kashmiri by ethnicity. The Kashmiri community in Delhi decided to invite him to dinner, to be held at Bamzai’s home. In 1947 none of us was aware of any protocol requirements. Nehru accepted the invitation and hectic preparations were put in to motion. It was meant to be an informal “biradari” (community) affair for all Kashmiris, Hindus as well as Muslims, including some National Conference workers and other friends of Bamzai’s. As the host’s brother-in-law, I was inevitably roped into helping with the preparations. One of my tasks was to invite people personally by phone since there were no formal written invitations. One of the people to be invited was T. N. Kaul, whom I had met briefly when he had come to17 York Road [Nehru’s residence] to meet Vijayalakshmi Pandit. When I called his residence, his sister Indira answered the phone. I did not know it then, but a few months later I was to meet Indira through a mutual friend and in just under a year we would be married! She has been my partner for more than sixty years.” On inviting Nehru for Dinner

“ There were old people who were beyond tears because they had seen women violated and men killed. These people were shocked out of their wits and were now living in a daze, perhaps beyond pain. They asked us to arrange refuge for them. I clearly remember till today an old woman walking up to me and asking me to arrange for some arsenic. ‘Mainoon senkhya (arsenic) la de,’ she said to me in Punjabi. She only wished to die. While we were talking, dead bodies were being taken out of the nearby well; bodies which had rotted beyond recognition and which emitted a foul smell. ” On a visit to Multan as journalist during Partition riots .

“ Having prayed at Sharika Temple , Sufi Muslim shrine of Makhdoom sahib and a Sikh Gurdwara , Zapper Deud would be ready to return home. As a child I took this multi religion pilgrimage in my stride , believing it to be normal , in fact , I still believe it was the norm rather than the exception in Kashmir for people to treat the holy spots of all religions with deep reverence . ” On going to Hari Parbat with his Mother’s sister or Masi.

“ Old men like me tend to look back at their lives; Young people prefer to look forward. This is as it should be , But some times it is good for the young to understand what lies behind as well. ” In his Foreword to the book

(Autar Mota...19.06.2013. time 11 PM Good Night )


*This som Nath Dhar is not to be confused with another writer by this name . He is Prof. Somnath Dhar who started his career as a lecturer  in SP college and later worked with Hindustan Times and Ministry of external affairs as First secretary in various mission abroad . He writes essentially  about kashmir’s History ,culture and folklore.

**M O Mathai ( 1909-1981 ) was assistant to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru . Born in Tamil Nadu ,he essentially worked as a stenographer and used to filter guests for Pandit ji ' He also prepared brief for Pandit ji . Mathai worked with the United States Army in India before becoming an assistant to Nehru in 1946. Serious Controversy existed in the media with regard to role of M O Mathai in Nehru’s household.. It was alleged that he was an American Intelligence Plant. Mr. Mathai wrote two books that caused controversy, ''Reminiscences of the Nehru Age'' in 1978 and ''My Days With Nehru'' in 1979. In his books he mentioned the attraction of Nehru for several women and wrote critically about Nehru's daughter, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

***HUNOOZ   DILLI   DOOR  AST  is linked with Hazrat Nizam ud din Aulia and also with Muhhamad Shah Rangeela by people and recorded  history . I add ......

It was the rule of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq and he was envy of the Great Sufi Saint Nizamuddin (May God Almighty Allah be pleased with him) Reason of his being envy was Hazrat Nizamuddin was too popular among people irrespective of their faith. Another reason was that Hazrat Nizamuddin used to arrange food for all every day composed of best menu. While Hazrat Nizamuddin used to observe fasting and eat vegetarian food, just a dry bread and water.
When King Tughlaq was returning to Delhi from DevGiri, after looting the treasure there, He sent a message to Hazrat Nizamuddin to leave Delhi before his arrival. When the message was delivered to him, Hazrat Nizamuddin said to his desciple; just write on the letter;
“Hunooz Dilli Door Ast” in Persian and it means “Delhi is still far away”
When King Tughlaq arrived near Delhi, he was greeted by his successor Alagh Khan who erected a grand pavilion outside the Delhi Fort, where King and his body guards can enter into it riding on their elephants to celebrate the victory. It is said when the King Tughlaq and his men entered into the pavilion, the main central pole of the great pavilion tent gave away and it fell on the King and he died instantly along with his commanders. So it was the curse of Hazrat Nizamuddin on the king.
Since then this saying is famous among people.

Mohammad Shah Rangeela the  ruler of INDIA in 1739 was in his cups, drunk to his gills, in the Diwan e Khas in Delhi, when a courtier arrived and told him that Nadir Shah of Persia had entered the confines of Hindustan. From the haze Rangeela was in, he muttered" Hunooz Dilli Door Ast'.'Delhi is still far away'.

As Nadir Shah progressed towards Delhi, his advance was reported repeatedly to Rangeela who responded with the refrain about the still intervening distance from Delhi. Finally Nadir Shah entered the gates of Delhi, sacked it thoroughly and left a mountain of skulls, burnt debris, fires and unbelievable sufferings for the residents.

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