Kohistani, the crusader

Sameer Wazir
Bansi Lal Kohistani former. MLA Reasi Constituencey; former.M.L.C. and Chief Parliamentary Secretary in Govt. of J&K under Indian National Congress, passed away on 23rd February, 2019 at Gandhi Nagar Jammu due to age weakness. He was 92.
Bansi Lal Kohistani was born on 21.03.1927 at Anantnag in Kashmir valley. With his earlier schooling in Government school at Anantnag, he was a strong orator and students leader. His Booklet titled “Rahe Janat” a collection of poems written by him at age of 13 years when he was reading in 8th class of Govt. High School Anantnag , became very popular amongst students of valley. He passed matriculation from Panjab University (as there was no University in J&K during that times) getting first class first in whole of Panjab University in the year 1943. He did ‘Adib Alam’ in the year 1944 and ‘Adib Fazal’ in the year 1945. Later Sh. Bansi Lal graduated from Panjab University getting First Class First and was awarded academic Gold Medal for standing first in whole of Panjab University in 1947.
During college days Bansi Lal organized Students’ Union under the name ‘Prem Sabha’. In the year 1944, Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah, who later became Chief Minister of the state, had a chance to participate in the Students’ Union Function in Anantnag College. He was so much fascinated to hear the fiery speech of this young student leader that Bansi Lal was invited and made one of the members of General Counsel Body of National Conference in the year 1944. Since he had not attained the age of maturity, special resolution was passed for relaxation of age limit of 18 years to accommodate him who was at that time of 17 years of age. He became so important a figure at this tender age that he had many chances to attend General Counsel meetings and stay in ‘Mujahid Manzil Srinagar, head quarter of National Conference.
In the year 1946-47 there were lot of disturbances during partition of our country; there were riots all through the state and many people were killed and got dislocated during this period. Bansi Lal was specially deputed by Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah along with a contingent of police force to rehabilitate the disturbed people of Pahari areas of Udhampur and Reasi districts in particular.. This social personality, ever-since is popular as Bansi Lal Kohistani. Though Sh. Kohistani had very cordial relation with the Sheikh Sahib who respected his selfless dedications to the cause of poor, but ideologically, he had his inclination towards Indian National Congress.
During the period Sh. Kohistani remained busy with rehabilitation of people disturbed due to riots of 1947, he authored books on suffering of masses and his efforts to rehabilitate these persons. Two of these books as mentioned hereunder became very popular. These Books were titled as:
“Ujrhe Garon Ki Tamir aur Taqdir” and
“ Pahari Garon mai Naya Kashmir”
His Novel “Shanti” and his editorials in weekly news paper Chand under title “ Rishwatstani ko jayaz kia jai aur sarkari audae nilam kaie jaine” which he wrote at his young age in early seventees, were hit of that time.
His interest and inclination towards Panchayati Raj with his brilliant service career, Bakshi Gulam Mohd the then Chief Minister of J&K state, to utilize his talent of being expert in Panchayati Raj and Revenue system, made Kohistani as Block Development Officer and had his first posting as BDO Reasi in the year 1955-56. His famous Book ‘Dehat Sudhar’, written during his service as BDO Reasi during 1957-58, which depicted pictorially, participation of his officials with village public and techniques of basic public welfare, became so popular that it found its place in Govt. Panchayat Department of J&K.
Kohistani, due to his strong inclination towards poor masses of remote areas, was elevated and made Dy. Director of Social Welfare Department in the year 1960. His popularity among poor masses became so strong that political bosses of Indian National Congress found this person the only one having capability to defeat the most strong person of BJP (the then Praja Parshid), Rishi Kumar Koshal as MLA Reasi. Kohistani was asked by the political bosses of State to resign from Govt. Service to contest as MLA from Reasi Constituency. As was obvious, Kohistani won election in 1967 and was made Chief Parliamentary Secretary in Govt. headed by G.M.Sadiq as CM in the year 1967.
In the year 1974-75, Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah was made the Chief Minister of J&K State under Indra Gandhi – Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah Accord. Sheikh had so much respect for Kohistani and remembered his capability that he deputed a special messenger from Srinagar to Udhampur along with his hand written letter requesting Kohistani to join his Cabinet. Kohistani respectfully and politely replied that he being in Congress party, whatever contribution he will make for the cause of people, the credit shall, obviously, go to this party and not to National Conference; and since he is ideologically linked with Indian National Congress party and has no intentions to leave his party, it will be but natural to lead to confusion and unacceptable relations. Sh. Kohistani has always stood on principles and never compromised on his moral values for lucrative positions/portfolios.
Kohistani has all along been strongly opposed to corruption. According to him corruption not only imbalances the society and makes the poor as more poorer as the money which goes in corruption is basically meant for economic development of poor masses, but it creates indiscipline and reduces mobility which finally leads to decline in developmental activities. He continued his crusade against corruption throughout his career. He was so annoyed in moral degradation and corruption in administrative circles that he, as Parliamentary Secretary in State Govt. , was constrained to write articles in a news paper under title
“Rishwatstani ko Jaiz karar kia jai aur sarkari Aodae Nilam Kaie jaine” meaning that the quantum and extent of corruption in administration has taken so high magnitude that there is now, no scope to go behind this limit. Therefore, instead of going with the system, corruption should be legalized and Govt. posts auctioned. This way Govt. would earn out of auction of posts. Sh. Kohistani instead of stopping his crusade against corruption, resigned from the post of Parliamentary Secretary, J&K Govt. and continued his struggle against corruption as a MLA.