Dr Nater Singh
Inspite of all ordeals and dark days, the visonaries do not look back. It is their attitudes and their ability to express themselves which makes them discover a path for themselves. They see what everybody has seen but they think of possibilities that nobody has thought. They challenge their own potential on one side and let the world to challenge it from the other side. A man, who never received any formal education but excellent as mechanic is named as Mistri Pritam Singh of Village Nangali Poonch. As his father died at a young age, the responsibility to feed other family members fell on him. As such he joined a driving course from the Indian Motor Training College Grounds at Lahore in 1930 AD and after qualifying he adopted driving as a profession and plied a passenger cum load carrier bus for some time on a route from Poonch to Attauk. At Lahore he came into contact with one of the semi skilled pencil manufactuters. He not only learnt that art but also impressed his employer the most by his workmanship. His family conditions made him to leave even that profession. Back at home, he joined as a lineman in the Deptt of Electricity and served the local hydle power station Poonch to the best satisfaction of all . During the partition of the country in 1947 thousands of people were rendered homeless and ran helter-skelter for safety.
Most of the houses of village Nangali including the building of Shiromani Dera Santpura Nangali Sahib were set on fire by the infiltrators. Like many other families, Mistri Pritam Singh also carried his family to Poonch for safety. Although thousands of families, which had migrated and assembled at Poonch, were airlifted to Jammu but Mistri Pritam Singh having complete faith in the Dera Nangali Sahib chose to stay behind with few other relations.
A little later, Mistri Pritam Singh learnt the technique to manufacture 12 bore guns with the help of a muzzle loading gun. Thereafter, he applied to the Govt of Jammu and Kashmir State for the issuance of a license to manufacture single barrel 12 bore guns. Incidentally the request was favourably considered and the license issued to him made him a pioneer in the trade of gun manufacturing in the State of J&K. As he did not feel satisfied with what he had achieved, he manufactured another gun named by him as “Indicator gun’ in 1954. Something amazing in that gun is that a small steel strip fitted at the top of the barrel automatically indicates as to whether the hammer is ready or not, gun is loaded or not and the like. In one of the Industrial Exhibition held at the Parade Ground Jammu in the month of April 1954, Mistri Pritam Singh displayed a his gun for which he was awarded First Class Silver Medal in the art of gun making. Once a UN observer while commending the workmanship of the gunsmith expressed a desire to purchase the said gun. Being the only specimen available with him at that time, the desire of the visitor was not fulfilled. Feeling annoyed the officer asked him another thought provoking question “How such an indicator gun can be useful to an ‘illiterate person or to any person finding it during the night time? At this Mistri Pritam Singh sought six months time to answer the question asked. About six months later, he manufactured another gun and named it as ‘Pin Gun’. The significance of the new gun is that as and when the gun is loaded with a cartridge, a small needle like pin emerges out of the barrel which signifies that the gun is loaded. The invention of such two guns made him very popular amongst the citizens in general and civil and army officers in particular. As his request to get required amount to install a factory to manufacture such guns was not favourably considered , both guns in original form are lying with one of his sons.
It was during the invention of above mentioned two guns that the image of an old forgotten planchette came into his mind and he got it remanufactured which works till date even after his death in 1969 AD. When put to operation, the planchette respond in writing through different languages known to the wandering soul. Indeed it was an ‘Electronic Breakthrough’ during the conditions in which he lived.
Meanwhile Mistri Pritam Singh installed a Rice Mill inside the premises of his house in Poonch. But he was not satisfied with the traditional working of rice mill which would cause a lot of delay to the people particularly to the small farmers coming from far off areas to get their paddy grilled and cleaned. As such, he developed another mechanism by which it would not take much time to get the rice cleaned after getting paddy grilled. A lot of protests by other mill owners against his new technique was suitably rebuffed by the local Dy. Commissioner.
The great tragedy that occurred on 22nd Nov 1963, in which as many as five Generals of the Indian Army got killed in a helicopter crash near Poonch, sent a wave of shock to the entire country. Mistri Pritam Singh also took this tragedy to heart. After some time he came out with a blue print aiming at reducing the chances of such air crashes.
Letters were written to the then Defence Minister of India (Y B Chavan) who as a routine re-directed such letters to the Director General (Aeronautics) of India for further consideration. The latter’s insistence for the submission of original blue prints was not accepted by the mechanic though he offered his services and assured the authorities that he would return home only after the completion of new type of aircraft. As qualified engineers always feel that such ideas emerge only in their mind in the modern technological world, the urge of an ordinary man living at a remote and backward area got buried.
In July 1969 when US Astronaut led by Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, the scientific outlook of Mistri Pritam Singh got further sharpened. His religious dogmas were being replaced by his scientific and realistic aptitudes. But before he could get more exposure in the scientific world, death took him away from us. With a mild stroke of jaw-locking on the night of 6th Oct. 1969, he breathed his last a day after a Nowshera bus stand while being removed to Jammu for a specialized treatment. After his death the family members were astonished to hear that Mistri Pritam Singh had also specialized in the science of telepathy.
Mistri Pritam Singh was every inch a practical man and taught not to hate others. In his personal dealings with individuals hostile to him,, he had gained many a victory. In fact his affection and love for other needy persons made him very popular amongst the people of all denominations and castes. Besides the company, his living contemporaries still cherish his memorable achievements.
The author is Principal (Retd.)
Dr Nater Singh