Tuesday, January 12, 2016





It was July month of 1990. Although rainy season had started, Jammu was extremely hot and humid. I was posted as Assistant Manager at Canal Road branch a public sector bank. Capt. C K Sharma was my manager . He was an Ex-serviceman , very helpful, liberal and a daring officer that i ever came across in my entire banking career. Armed   militancy had arrived in kashmir. Painful migration of  pandits from kashmir  valley had taken place and banks in Jammu  were always crowded . People demanding transfer of accounts , people demanding payment of fixed deposits ( issued by banks in kashmir valley ) that had fallen due. And quite often,  people coming to the bank  with entire gold ornaments and literally begging  a locker . Stories of pain and suffering all around .

 Everyday I would hear something like this:

‘Jagar Nath Maahra Sapudh Swargvaas . Dapaan Loo Lajjis ’or ‘Jagar Nath left for his heavenly abode . He died of heat stroke .’
‘Omkar Nath Maahra Chhu Sheen Takhtas Pyaath Trovmut Raathh Haspataalus Munz . Tuff Chhuss Na Vasaan . Ye Chhus Ladkaa . Yimunn Maahra Chhu Saddikki Pyaath Sonna Footijj .Kenh Karyoos.’ Or ‘ Omkar Nath has been put on ice slabs in the hospital . His fever does not recede. He is Omkar Nath’s son. Their gold jewellery is almost lying on road. Please do something and give him a Locker .’

Everyday I heard about two or three elderly kashmiri pandits dying of heat stroke . Unaware of deadly heat ,these pandits moved in midday sun. And to survive in alien land , they had to. Looking for a room , going to relief counters ,visiting banks, visiting schools for admission of children , shopping for essentials and so many other daytime engagements .

One day a strange visitor came into my cabin. He was directed by my colleague S S Jolly to see me . Jolly knew him as a relative of the proprietor of ‘ Sewa  Medicate ’ Bakshi Nagar . Jolly knew nothing about literature or Urdu poetry or about literary stature of the person he had recommended to me.  The moment I saw him , i immediately recognized him as Prof. Jagan Nath Azad. He had an elderly kashmiri pandit with him . I do not know where and how they had met. I did not ask these details either . Offering them drinking water , i sought to know as to what he precisely wanted from me . And then he said :

‘ Do you have locker facility ? If yes, i want a locker to be given to this gentleman. He is known to me . He is extremely deserving person who lives in Geeta Bhawan presently. Unfortunately, he keeps moving in the city with his wife’s jewellery in his pocket. There is no security in Geeta Bhawan . The family lives presently , almost in open .He has been going to various banks for a locker but of no result. Somewhere I came to know that your bank has been providing lockers to people in distress . Please listen to him. He is a kashmiri. ’

Those days , KYC norms were not so stringent . To ascertain credentials of the person, I put three or four questions to him and opened his savings bank account introducing him myself . We had kept sufficient stock of special adhesive stamps used in  locker agreements  so that people had not to go to courts to collect these stamps from stamp vendors . I made him to sign locker agreement there and then. As per understanding with my manager , i would waive the prerequisite of the fixed deposit for the locker in deserving cases . Everyday in the evening ,my manager Capt. C K Sharma , would confirm all in black and white reposing total faith in what i did during daytime.Something around 200 rupees were taken from the person as advance locker rent and i handed over the key to him. He put the gold ornament packet in the locker. Azad sahib was all smiles . I looked at his face . Radiant , smiling and cheerful .

He did not consent to have a cup of tea that I tried to offer him. Mrs Dutta ( Dutta Photographers from srinagar ) was narrating her story of leaving everything in valley to save life. She had also come for a locker .Azad sahib did not speak much but kept listening to Mrs Dutta . He then took out a cheque from his pocket and handed it over to me. It was a cheque for something around Rs2400/= drawn in his favour . It was crossed and marked “Payees Account only “. And he said:

‘ This cheque has remained with me for about a month. Can it be paid now  ?’
‘Why not ? Right now i can pay you cash for this cheque? ’
‘ How ? It is marked payees account only . It can not be paid across the counter . I have to deposit it in my account with my bankers . They shall collect it.’
‘ That is the procedure . As a special case we can pay entire cash to you right this moment . We can purchase this cheque at par and later collect it. We must be only sure about the payee’s credentials . Exceptions are created in banking as well.’

‘How are you sure about my credentials ?’

‘ Sir , You are Jagan Nath Azad . Poet ,  Scholar and authority on Allama Iqbal. You are a well known poet of the subcontinent. I have seen you many times in Srinagar . You worked in PIB as its Srinagar bureau chief . And then your poem  on partition … ‘Khudaa ke Ghar Pe Kyaa Beeti Sanam-khaanon Pe Kyaa Guzri…’

Azad sahib smiled at this and said:

‘ I always thought that bankers have nothing to do with literature least with Urdu. Such things give me a hope that Urdu will survive in India.’

He picked up the cheque from the table and kept it in his pocket. He then got up and shook hands with me . flinging a warm smile , he said:

‘ I had come for this gentleman only. So happy that you helped him. Keep doing this humanitarian work. I shall deposit the cheque in my bank account . let it get collected in normal procedure . Rules for payment of ‘ Payees Account cheques ’ apply to me as well. I can not claim to be an exception. Rules are rules . Thank you.’

This small meeting left a deep impression in my mind. A tall thinker , a poet , a scholar and an authority on Allama Iqbal accompanying a poor , desperate and hapless individual .

Possibly as sensitive individual , he had felt the pangs of separation from the place of his birth and his beloved city Lahore . None other than him could understand the woes of a man facing smilar predicament. And in that brief visit , never did he seek a favour for himself. A job that I was more than ready to do. For his own cheque , he wanted rules to be followed .

Later I came to know that Azad sahib never knew the man personally. Only empathy , compassion and human feelings were the key factors for his coming to the bank and seeking a locker for the person. He had heard the person narrating his woes per chance . And for a man who was respected and admired by all regimes/ governments/ leaders in the subcontinent , humanity ,compassion and sympathy were more dearer than any dogmatic religious belief .What a true human being  he was ?

In 1947, very reluctantly , he left Lahore. Left his dear city very late when almost all non muslims had moved out.

After 1947, he kept visiting lahore for Mushairas , literary meetings  and seminars. Let me add lines from a poem that he read in Lahore when he visited the city for first time after 1947..

‘Teri Mehfil Se Jo Armaan o Hasrat le ke Niklaa Thhaa
Voh Hasarat Le Ke Aaya Huun Voh Armaan Le Ke Aayaa Huun
Tumhaare Vaaste  Aey Doston Me Aur Kyaa Laata
Wattan Ki Subah Aur Shaam e Gareebaan Le Ke Aaya Huun..
Mein Apne Ghar Mein Aaya Huun Magar Andaaz To Dekho
Ke Apnay Aap Ko Maanind Mehmaan Le Ke Aaya Huun’

( Avtar Mota )

Creative Commons License

CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.