Lalit Gupta’s write up on Lt. Ramesh Mehta ( D.E. Sunday,6-6-21) the visionary Hindi poet, the very competent Editor of Hindi Sheeraza , the ‘reluctant'( this adjective is mine) painter in constant search of another medium of expression and above all a very good friend of the writer community of the state, is a fine example of a proficient pen. Lalitji has mastered a style of his own in which he has beautifully traced the rise of a front rank Hindi writer of the UT in such days( 1970s) as were more propitious for writers to turn to mother tongues Dogri or Kashmiri , the two officially recognised regional languages. For Urdu writers , the problem was not so knotty but those who had started or were struggling to find the right idiom and language for their expression, this change over would be crucial. Different literatures written in different languages even though in the same geographical situations command different sensibilities. I don’t know if Ramesh wrote in Dogri at some stage’, but I always found in him a resurgent spirit to take nascent Hindi writers out into the wide and open world of pan Indian Hindi books , journals, writers and new literary experiments. We may recall how his new ideas were translated into special numbers of the Shiraza which he brought out during the days of his editorship. Besides Shiraza’s general periodic issues, he would record on private tape recorders ,live discussion and small seminars on timely literary issues, little known otherwise to other Academy journals, for subsequent publication in his magazine. As pointed out by Lalitji, his contacts with epoch making Hindi writers like Agyeya were always there to kindle flames of high creativity in him.
In this context, I want to put on record my dear friend Ramesh’s special contribution which he made to local private endevors in Kashmir. Like the foremost Hindi organisation viz. Kashmir Hindi Sahitya Sammelan in Srinagar, Ramesh’s “Shiraza” energized the local Hindi talent by helping bridge the gap between local poets story writers playwrights and critics and renowned writers of the Hindi world There was a small group of Hindi writers in Kashmir who were on the same page on the new cosciousness and writing trends ( Nai kavita , nai kahani etc.) and wrote competently.
But as we know, most ‘blue eyed’ editors of prestigious Hindi journals from Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Jaipur, Allahabad etc. didn’t recognise or publish them . To some writers from Kashmir, the arrogant editors unabashedly told to send translations of Kashmiri originals instead. Ramesh Mehta raised the standard of JK Academy’s literary journal (bearing an Urdu name) so that it came to be accepted as one among the all India standards. He gave local writers equal respect .I am happy to note that after Ved Rahi’s editorship of “Yojana” , Mehta in Shiraza ( both government magazines)made the best of his opportunity by providing a platfom for the development of contemporary literary consciousness in Hindi writers of the times. He stayed in the valley , met locals often, established personal relations with them and solidly provided them the right platform for expression . These two names will always be remembered whenever the development of ‘scruplous’ Hindi journalism in J&K is delineated by future scholars… This assumes importance in view of the fact that Kashmir was an accepted citadel of Urdu for centuries and attempts to create a niche for Hindi had mostly been weak and negligible. Jammu may have presented a little different picture, but Kashmir was too different for understandable reasons.
R. L. Shant