Lion of Duggar land

Ravi Rohmetra
Lala Mulk Raj Saraf was pioneer in Journalism especially in J&K State. He was born on 8th April 1894 at Samba to father Dayanand Saraf and mother Smt. Jamuna Devi. After matriculation, he joined Prince of Wales College (now Government Gandhi Memorial Science College, Jammu)

Today is his 120th Birth Anniversary

Lala Mulk Raj Saraf

and graduated from Punjab. University Lahore, Congress leaders had started working for “Daily Bande Matram” a leading news paper of the time which gained popularity among leading papers of the country and consequently it was here that Saraf joined a very nationalist daily Bande Matram as a sub-editor being brought out by the great nationalist leader Lala Lajpat Rai popularly known as the Sher-e-Punjab.
Saraf was elevated as sub-editor by the management but he resigned and returned to Jammu. At Jammu, he started his own daily Urdu paper “Ranvir” and an Urdu Journal” Rattan’ in 1924. “Ranvir” became one of the leading Urdu daily paper of the country due to which Lala Mulk Raj Saraf was given the title of “Baba-e-Sahafat” (Father of Journalism).
He was awarded “Padamshree” in 1976. Working Journalists on the occasion of national conference at Cuttak in Orissa in 1986, through its president K Vikram Rao wrote to him “we wish to honour ourselves by honouring you. ” In another function, then Chief Minister Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah had rightly remarked- Shri Saraf earned the distinction of Padamshree because of his superb qualities both as a journalist and a freedom fighter and the best service, we could do the country was to emulate his example.
Widely travelled Saraf took extensive tours to Soviet Union, Britain, Germany, China, America and Pakistan etc. His visits to Pakistan and America at the age of 86 and 92 respectively speak of his good health and his commitment to Journalism and social cause. He used to say I am still young and hope to be young even at the age of 100. When he visited Pakistan in 1979 several papers of that country had written articles praising him for his contribution in the field of Journalism. On his return he wrote a book – “Meri Pakistan Yatra” which was selected as “Book of the year” and was also awarded by J&K Cultural Academy.
He also wrote – “Insaniyat Abhi Zinda Hai” and Nagooh-e- Ranvir”. Besides he wrote more than two hundred articles on socio-economic, political and cultural topics which were published in his own paper “Ranvir” and “Chand” weekly edited by Dewan Narsingh Dass Nargis and in many other leading journals off the country. Today hundred of journals both dailies and periodicals are being published from Jammu and Kashmir one cannot even think of the heroic task for obtaining even permission to bring out the first newspaper which ultimately appeared in 1924 from the state. Never the less Mulk Raj Saraf displaying the steel will got over all the hurdles with all the meager resources at his disposal, all necessary arrangements were made interestingly. Maharaja Partap Singh donated Rs 100 while Raja Hari Singh Rs 50 annually for the “Pioneer Enterprise”. A dummy edition of the first newspaper ” The Ranvir” was issued on May 20, 1924 which was received by the public very warmly. Thus the Ranvir made the history of press when its first regular issue appeared on May 24, 1924. It was only the dedication to journalism and determination of (now) late Mulk Raj Saraf that overcame the obduracy of the bureaucracy not to allow any outlet for voicing the grievances of the people, that made it possible interestingly as Saraf wrote in his fifty years as a journalist” in early 1970’s the attitude and keen interest of the ruler of the state Maharaja Partap Singh who encouraged him in realising in pioneering venture in Jammu and Kashmir even then it took Saraf over three years to persuade the bureaucrates of the state to get the permission to bring out the first newspaper from the state. It would be interesting to go through that saga of struggle by Lala Mulk Raj Saraf who is deservedly known as “Father of Journalism” in Jammu & Kashmir and whose 120th birth anniversary fell on 8th April.
He wrote a book on Sher-e-Duggar Lala Hans Raj Mahajan Jeevan Katha in which he wrote a life history of the founder of Mahajan Sabha Sher-e-Duggar Lala Hans Raj Mahajan. In 1931 he became the President of Akhil Bhartiya Mahajan Shiromani Sabha. It was only on June 24, 124 that a social activist of Jammu, Mulk Raj Saraf started a weekly called the Ranvir with the social regeneration as its motto. The publication of Ranvir in Jammu prompted others also to jump into the bandwagon of the social reform movement.
This great journalist breathed his last on 21st February 1989 at the residence of his son Ved Rahi (a well known figure of film industry) in Bombay. He would be remembered for all the times to come.