Saturday, December 16, 2023



                                       ( Photo...Mission School , Fateh Kadal , Srinagar 1910 )

                        ( Photo... Mission School Fateh-Kadal ..1913 …Students And Teachers )


                                               ( Teachers of Mission School , Srinagar 1912 )

Tyndale Biscoe, Neve Brothers ( Doctors ) And Cholera Epidemics in Kashmir.


“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”…..Maya Angelou

 In December 1890, Tyndale Biscoe arrived in Kashmir from Amritsar where he had come from England. He saw poverty, shabbiness and illiteracy everywhere. Then, Pandit boys were taught Sanskrit in Pathshalas run by Brahmins, whereas Muslim boys were taught Arabic in Maktabs that were linked to mosques. In addition to this, some Pandits taught Persian to both Hindu and Muslim boys in their homes. Using unconventional teaching methods Biscoe challenged many orthodox beliefs and eventually left an ineffaceable mark in the Kashmir valley. He made the most sincere effort to restructure the educational landscape of Kashmir. He was a key player in pushing Kashmiris to modern education and a better understanding of the world around them. Biscoe did not shy away from tackling deeply entrenched social practices that would normally be considered outside the ambit of his functional duties.

 Despite the challenges, during the Great Cholera Epidemic of 1892, Biscoe endeavoured to maintain certain school activities, such as cricket, to counter the prevailing terror. However, these efforts were eventually halted. During cholera epidemics, they would get involved in cleaning drains and courtyards, advise the residents on the need for hygiene and cleanliness, tend to the sick, take patients by boat to the Mission hospital and escort them in, or simply take the chronically ill for boat rides on the lake so they could get some fresh air, without making any distinctions of religion, caste or social standing. The bravery exhibited by the teachers from the Mission School during the epidemic was commendable, and six boys even volunteered to assist in caring for the sick, tragically resulting in the death of one. In his autobiography, Tyndale Biscoe writes this:-

“In 1892, 500 to 700 persons died of cholera per day in Kashmir valley. The Mullahs and the Brahmin priests won't allow people to take Western medicine. The Mullah and the Brahmin priest wrote Allah and Shiva on a piece of paper and asked people to swallow it with Jhelum water that was already full of cholera germs. Later people started visiting Mission Hospital and the lives of so many could be saved. One incident relating to a cholera patient is worth mentioning. He was in the third stage of cholera. The only option was a blood transfusion. Dr Arthur Neve did it by opening a vein in his own arm and transferring it with a rubber tube into his vein. Dr Neve and I spent a night at the hospital and hoped for the best, but it was not to be .”


 In 1882, Dr Arthur Neve arrived in Kashmir and thereafter in 1886, he was joined by his brother Dr Earnest Neve. These doctors travelled extensively across the length and breadth of the Kashmir valley and Ladakh. In 1888, the Neve brothers opened the allopathic dispensary at Drogjan ( just below Shankaracharya Hill) and later converted it into a full-fledged hospital on modern lines. In 1893, it became a premier hospital with 135 beds. Dr Arthur Neve and Dr Earnest Neve would start their day at 8 am and work at the ‘Mission Hospital‘ till 10 pm attending to patients, performing surgeries and moving in wards. Never had Kashmiris seen such care, attention, compassion and dedication from their local Hakeems or Vaids. These doctors would also frequently visit Baramulla, Anantnag and other towns to see patients. Dr Earnest Neve spoke fluent Kashmiri and worked during the rule of Maharaja Partap Singh and Maharaja Hari Singh. To his patients, this god-sent doctor would say "zuv vandai...Balai lagai ( My life for you. I can face death for you .) ". Most of the patients would come in small boats though some used to come on Tongas during those days. He would operate free and carry sick patients from the Dal Lake Ghaat to the hospital on his shoulders. Every Kashmiri owes a debt to him. Dr Earnest Neve was a vegetarian. Dr Arthur Neve and his brother performed 30000 surgeries in Kashmir which included 3651 eye operations,864 operations for tumours and 579 bone operations apart from treating patients of Kangri cancers, syphilis, leprosy and smallpox. Dr Arthur Neve fought many terrible outbreaks of cholera and famine in the Kashmir valley. About the 1885 earthquake in Kashmir, Dr Arthur Neve writes this in his book, ‘ Thirty Years in Kashmir':-

 “..Post-1885 earthquake, as I moved through villages, the stench was awful and might be smelt half a mile away from the putrefying bodies of animals. I found men and women with dislocations and fractures unreduced and unset; the few survivors had been so stunned by the calamity that they thought little of minor injuries. People gave special offerings in shrines. For us, it was a time for deeds rather than for words, for sympathy than sermons. Even the boat that carried me, was converted into a hospital. There was no safe building in which to work, so we put up tents and hired some very large barges which were soon filled with cases. The wounds were suppurating horribly and in many cases, badly applied splints or over-tight bandages had caused mortification to set in. Tetanus also claimed its victims. Patients were brought on the shoulders of their friends or bed sheets walking 10 miles ……….. In the valley there were some notable fissures; one at Dubgam had at first given out steam and sulphurous fumes. Another very long near Pattan crossed the main road....."

 (Avtar Mota )


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