Every age throws up heroes: The men and women admired for their qualities of head and heart, achievements and contribution to society at large. Their life stories reveal a saga of personal courage, bravery, tenacity to fight against all odds to pursue their chosen goals.
It is ironic that most of the panegyrics and eulogies pour out only after such great persons have said goodbye to this world. A true tribute to such persons of substance is when their contributions are recognized and admired publically in their lifetime only.
Living Hero: Masud Choudhary is one such living hero of Jammu and Kashmir. A septuagenarian, his life been a journey from the darkness of backwardness, illiteracy and ignorance to the light of education, modern thought and action. Imbued with the strength of mind and character, he not only flourished as an individual but bequeathed to posterity a string of institutions of eminence as a mark of his public-spirited legacy to the community, state and nation. One whose life has many firsts both for himself and for his community, Masud Choudhary is a role model for the young and pride for all other members of the Gujjars of J&K and those settled in other states of the country.
Early Life: Born on March 10th, 1944, in the Bajar Gujjar family of the teacher Babu Faiz Ahmed and Begum Resham Jan, Masud was the eldest among his six siblings; one sister and five brothers. His native village Kaleban is located in the remote area of tehsil Mendhar of Poonch District. The youngest pupil in his village school, he passed the class fifth exam from school in nearby village Chhatral; class eighth from middle school Mehndar. For matriculation, he shifted to Poonch. After intermediate, he joined M.A.M. College, Jammu. The turning point of his life was when after completing B.A, he moved to Aligarh and graduated in Law. Fired by the ideas of Sir Sayeed Ahmed Khan that set the pace for the alleviation of Indian Muslims, Masud Choudhary vowed to dedicate his life to education and serving his own community and the society at large.
Custodian of Law and Administrator: Despite his inclination towards teaching, it was a stroke destiny that led him to join the police service as Deputy Superintendent of Police in 1967. Bestowed with qualities of courage, leadership and administration, he in his 37 years of service successfully served in various capacities and prestigious assignments. These included SP Jammu, Poonch, Kathua, Udhampur, SSP Srinagar, SSP Vigilance, CID, DIG in Vigilance Jammu-Kathua range; Administration PHQ; Director Police Academy, Udhampur; IGP, Crime and Railways. Promoted as Additional Director-General of J&K Police in 2002, he superannuated from the Indian Police Service in 2004. During his career, he mentored many young officers who today occupy senior positions in the J&K Police force.
Visionary Community Leader and Philanthropist: Notwithstanding his rise in the J&K state administrative setup and due recognition by the political and social elite, Masud Choudhary never lost sight of the great injustice meted to Gujjars in the post-Independence schemes of things. He realized that the noble nomads who stand pushed to the periphery of socio-political priorities must get educated and assert their cultural identity. For that, he envisioned the founding of an institution dedicated to educating, awakening and empowering the otherwise gullible and complacent Gujjar community.
Gurjar Desh Charitable Trust—The Magnum Opus: Conceived and set up in 1991 by Masud Choudhary Gurjar Desh Charitable Trust (GDCT), in last thirty years has grown to be a site for self-discovery and empowerment for the Gujjars of J&K has won national and international recognition.
Going by the GDCT visitors’ books, it had the honour of the visits of a number of prime ministers, chief ministers, central and state ministers and cultural elite of the country and J&K, who have recorded their appreciation of the Trust-founder’s vision.
Housed in a sprawling complex boasts of a well-stacked research library, a vocational centre, an archive of rare photographs, publications of books & periodicals, space for the art gallery and a museum, the Gurjar Desh Charitable is a vibrant institution. It is not merely a cultural foundation but a prestigious address and hub devoted to the preservation, promotion and development of Gujjar culture. Masud Choudhary, the founder chairman of GDC Trust has been made its Lifetime Patron.
Along with the GDC Trust, Masud Choudhary has also laid the foundation of KB Public High School on the bye-pass road in Jammu. In consequence of his tireless missionary zeal and financial help from the government, today this school with a hostel is doing a commendable job in educating Gujjar children especially those with weak economic background.
Founder Vice-Chancellor Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University: Only a fortunate few get the life-times opportunity to set up a University. For Masud Choudhary his appointment in 2004 as the founding Vice-Chancellor of the newly created Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University at Rajouri was another high watermark of his personal journey. Masud Choudhary fulfilled his role Magna cum Lauda.
As the chief executive of the new university, his abilities as an administrator and an educationist came in handy. He affected the smooth acquisition of land and quick-paced infrastructural building processes. Simultaneously, he set out to formulate the academic programs befitting a science and technological university with a secular outlook and futuristic vision. In recognition of his stellar services the Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University awarded him the honorary degree of D.Litt. for his extraordinary contributions to Indian society, especially in the fields of education and social development.
Sir Sayeed of Gujjars: a pragmatic educationist, Masud Choudhary is lovingly called Sir Sayeed of Gujjars for his untiring efforts in areas of the social and educational awakening of his community. His life journey and his contributions to society have found honourable mentions in form of a biography, chapters and articles in a number of books on the modern history of J&K, and also in the shape of film and television documentaries.
Awards: A nationalist to the core, he has been bestowed with awards like the Sher-e-Kashmir Police Medal of Merit, Police Medal for Meritorious Service in 1985, Presidents Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 1994, ‘Fakhar-e-Qoum’ by Adabi Sangat Kashmir, and ‘Fakhr-e-Qaum-wa-Millat’ lifetime contribution award. Today, he stands shining on the socio-cultural firmament of the post-independent Jammu and Kashmir for his admirable services as a custodian of law administration, philanthropist and educationist.