Remembering Mian Bashir

Mian Bashir with former president Pratiba Patel.

Ch. Rashid Azam Inqlabi
The first death anniversary of Mian Bashir Ahmed Larvi, was observed on the 14th of August at Wangat Kangan, in Ganderbal District of Jammu and Kashmir. Mian Bashier Ahmed Larvi popularly known as ‘Lal Sharief’ who belonged to the Naqshbandi order of Sufi tradition had great followers in sub-continent, i.e. India, Pakistan, Saudi Arab, UAE, England even in America.
The grandfather of Mian Sahib Jb. Abdullah Larvi migrated from Province of “Hazara” Pakistan to “wanghat” Kashmir in 19th century on the instruction of his religious Peer, known as “Mian Nizam Din Kiyanvi” and settled at Wangat, Kashmir in about 1880 in the lap of hills and green jungles.
Mian Bashir ji was born at Pehalnar, Ganderbal to Jb. Mian Nizam-ud-Din Larvi (RA). He received his early education locally from Moulvi Abdullah Sahib and Moulvi Ibrahim Chatergulli. After receiving elementary lessons in Urdu, Arabic and Persian at home, he started social service for the community.
Mian Bashir popularly known as “Baba Sahab” in Kashmir, believed in a spiritual vision of life and he always stood by his vision. He promoted such values throughout his life among his immediate disciples, general followers and his well wishers. He relentlessly strived for social equality among the masses in general. Mian Sahib was a multi-dimensional personality who led the Gujjar and bakerwals community of J&K in particular, in spiritual, religious, social and political fields.
Mian Sahib was elected as Member Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Jammu and Kashmir in 1967, 1972, and 1977 from Kangan, Kashmir province and in 1983-84 from Darhal assembly constituency in Rajouri District of Jammu province. Mian Bashier was the only leader who won all the elections in his life that he contested, further, he is the only leader who has fought the election from both the provinces of Kashmir and Jammu and remained elected. Mian Bashir also served as Minister in Jb. Sheikh Mohd Abdullah’s Cabinet in 1971, 1977 to 1980. In 1980, he resigned from Sheikh Mohd Abdullah’s cabinet for his resentment for not providing due share to the Gujjar community in the Cabinet and supported the Congress party and started agitation against the National Conference government.
Propagation of Gojri language
Mian Bashir Ahmad has worked to develop regional languages i. e Gojri, Panjabi, and Urdu. He has compiled a number of books in Gojri, Urdu, and Punjabi including ‘Israr e Kabari’, ‘Ashar e Nizami’, Siharfian’, ‘Neer Sumandar Maaraf-ul-Tabarqat’, etc. These books mainly deal with topics of spiritualism, Sufism, Islamic theology and divine love, besides his poetic compilations representing Gujjar’s rich heritage and culture. One of his important contributions is his biographical account of three generations of Babaji Sahib Larvi in the book, ‘Mata e Faqar-o-Danish’ published in Urdu.
Mian Sahib chaired many seminars, conferences, and literary and cultural events in India and aboard also. He also penned his personal daily dairies which are a great source of information on the life Mian Saheb and the events of Kashmir. He has pinned down all day-to-day happenings of his life, family, society and politics of Jammu and Kashmir. Mian family has played a key role in enriching the Gojri language and literature. The stalwarts of Gojri like Khuda Baksh Zaar, Israel Asar, Isreal Mehjoor, Mian Ismail Zabi, Meharud Din Qammar, Sain Qader Baksh, Zabhi Rajourvi, Qazi Jalal Din, Mian Habib of Panhid, Rajouri had started writing poetry in Gojri and Punjabi under the influence of Mian Nizam ud Din Larvi RA. Mian Sahib often organized poetic events at the Shrine of Baba ji Sahib. Mian Bashir Larvi Saheb encouraged many more to write and participate in the literary Mehfils. In Neer- Sumander the poetry of prominent poets of Gojri was published. Mian Bashir Sahib played a vital role in starting the Gojri programme from Radio Kashmir/Jammu in J&K and the Gojari section in the Academy of Art, Culture and Languages. Mian Sahib was the most popular tribal leader of Jammu and Kashmir. His life and contribution epitomized the perfect blend of spirituality and social reform. He was a visionary whose ideals gave a strong sense of community, dignity and consciousness among Gujjar Bakerwal tribes.
Mian Bashir Sb was the only Gujjar from the sub-continent who has the privilege /honour to address the United Nations where Mian Sahib presented the case of India in UNO and described Mulk-e-Hind (India) as the epitome of peace, diversity and communal Harmony. Mian Bashir stressed the need to create an environment of friendly and cordial relations with other countries. Mian Sahib described India and Pakistan as two brothers and advocated the phrase harmony. He consistently strived to establish a strong bond of communal harmony and co-existence across the country.
Mian Bashir Ahmad was the most influential Gujjar leader of Jammu and Kashmir. He will be remembered in the history of the sub-continent as, a religious and social leader and leader of masses irrespective of caste colour and creed.
Smt. Indira Gandhi visited the Shrine of Baba Ji Sahib at Wanghat during her visit to Kashmir in the 70s. Mian Sahib canvassed for Mrs Indira Gandhi in Rai Brailey during the parliamentary election because Mian Sahib had a good number of followers among the Gujjars of Rai Brailey, and Smt. Indira Gandhi got elected with a huge majority in that election.
In Jammu and Kashmir, he was closely associated with prominent leaders of J&K, like Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah, Syed Mir Qasam, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad, Master Bali Ram, Girdhari Lal Dogra, Pt. Tarlocnhan Dutt, Mangat Ram Sharma, Abdul Ghani Lone, Lala Shiv Charan Gupta, D D Thakur, Babu Parmanand and others.
Later he left active politics and solely devoted himself to his spiritual role, and religious education. The political activities were carried out by his younger son Mian Altaf Sahib under the guidance of Mian Sahib. The people approached the Mian Sahib to settle the dispute (kachari) among the Gujjar biradari, and Mian Sahib settled the issue. In the kachari/ jirga, people would accept the verdict given by Mian Sahib with open arms due to which people saved their time and money. And disputes between Gujjar and Bakarwal were resolved amicably. In one of the jirga, I got a chance to participate as one of the members of the jirga to represent the case of one of the affected parties in 1987. Many foreign citizens approached the Mian Sahib for redressal of their graveness. Once An American Lady approached the Mian Sahib for help and I acted as interpreter between the Mian Sahib and the American lady. Mian Sb helped her and later she thanked him for helpful nature.
In 2008 Mian Sb. was conferred with the third highest civilian award “Padam Bhushan” by Government of India, for his outstanding contribution and service towards tribal Gujjars, Bakarwals and other downtrodden groups of society.
When news of conferring of “Padam Bushan” Award to Mian sb. was flashed thousands of followers of Mian Sahib from Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, particularly Gujjar Bakerwal, Pahari and Rajput, Kashmiri, congratulated their saint for great attainment.
While speaking at a function organized by the Gujjar Officers Association at Press Club Jammu in 2008, Mian Sb said that Padam Bhushan Award is not only for my Gujjars and Bakerwals of Jammu and Kashmir but it goes to crores of Gujjars living in eleven States of India and crores of my followers who belong to Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh religion also and assured that he will continue to work for social justice, human rights, peace and prosperity of the State.
The best way to pay the homage to Mian Sb is that we must work for the brotherhood, humanity, and downtrodden people of our country. Thousand of people paid homage to the great spiritual, social, and religious leader on the first death anniversary of Mian Bashir Sahib throughout union territory and abroad.