A forgotten crusader

Jagdish Gupta
This is the tale of a towering personality who worked selflessly for the causes of the poor. A personality who shared weal and woes of needy. He was a friend, guide and a social worker. The main aim and objective of Mahasha Ram Chand remained to help and uplift the victims and families below poverty line and pathetic conditions of untouchability. He never backed out in fighting and struggling for a social work and helping the masses without creed and caste. The feeling of helping and supporting the masses especially poor was so deepend in his heart and mind that he always loved to face all kind of odds or eventualities for the pleasure of others. He always believed that service to humanity is the service to God. This is the basic reason that the poor masses remember him as their God-father and his name is being taken with great love, respect and honour. Mahasha Ram Chand is one of those unsung heroes who is neither remembered by the community for which he sacrificed his life nor by the community (Mahajan ) to which he belonged.
Mahasha Ram Chand was born in the year 1897 A.D in Hiranagar. His father Khoju Shah was working as a treasure in Hiranagar Tresuary. His father retired when Sh. Ram Chand had just passed middle class examination. On the wish of his father, he too joined as tresurer in Hiranagar Treasury. In the early twenties, Northern India was in the grip of Arya Samaj Movement. Arya Samaj founded by Saraswati Dayanand Ji was reformist in nature. He did not believe in idol worshipping and casteism . It attracted many educated and influential people such as Mahasha Krishan of ” Partap” Dr. Gopal Chand Narang and many others. Mahasha Ram Chand was attracted towards Arya Samaj Ideology and due to his efforts an Arya Samaj Temple was built in Kathua. Mahasha Ram Chand was transferred to various treasuries. He was greatly moved by the pathetic condition of untouchability who could not draw water from the wells meant for upper castes, nor ride a horse. They had to sit upon the ground before the upper castes. They were uneducated and dire poverty. Mahasha Ram Chand wanted the upliftment of the untouchables and for that planned to build a Pathshala at village Batera which had a substantial number of Harijans besides other upper castes. Batera is about 30 kilometer on the left side of Jammu, Akhnoor Road.
It was decided to inaugurate the Pathshala at Batera in January 1923 A.D. Accordingly, a group led by Mahasha Ram Chand started for Batera on 13th January 1923. Another group led by Mehta Sawan Lal started from Akhnoor. They met 3 kilometers short of Batera where a large number of upper caste hindus armed with lathis pounced upon them. Their main target was Mahasha Ram Chand who was beaten mercilessly and left half dead. He was taken to Jammu Hospital where he died seven days without regaining consciousness. His death was widely mourned and his founeral was attended to by a large number of people. Initially no FIR was registered but under great pressure form influential Arya Samajis of Jammu and Punjab, Maharaja Partap Singh appointed Amar Nath Malhotra, DSP for investigation, Accordingly, 13 persons were found accused and tried. They were sentenced ranging from 6 months to 7 years for murder. It was through the efforts of Mr. Jagmohan, the then Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, that Mata Vaishno Devi, Shrine Board got renovated the school building in Batera which exists in the memory of Mahasha Ram Chand. It is heartening that there is now no ill will between the people of upper and lower caste in Batera and the children of both the castes attend the school.
Mahasha Ram Chand was indeed a brave and valiant soul whose services to the cause of Harijans are unparalled and unforgettable. He was a determined and dedicated worker and a great emancipator of human race. Inspite of being a high caste Hindu and hailing from a respectable family he worked for the Harijans for 85 years ago. In a so called high caste dominated society which was not prepared to accept any change in the social set up of that time. Mahasha Ram Chand’s name will go down in history as a man who lived up to the ideals which inspired him. He was a great and noble soul whose selfless sacrifices for the cause of another community needs to be remembered and immortalized. No doubt Mahasha Ram Chand Ji is not with us but due to his selfless service for mankind his name will remain always alive in our hearts. Mahasha Ram Chand proved to be true and faithful soldier of soil and everyone is proud of him.
This was the end of such a pious man who helped the budding children of the scheduled castes in his blooming young age. He was a simple man with head and heart qualities and epitome of love and affection for the neglected children of the society. He was a pious soul sent by the God to love human beings. He is remembered by thousands of his devotees who throng in annual congregation at village Batera, the place of his martyrdom. He always followed the foot prints of Maharishi Dayanand and Mahatma Gandhi.