By Mukhtar Dar
During the first half of the 20th century, when Kashmir was under the heels of political, social and economic exploiters, truth was overawed by the pomp of landlord and poverty was rampant. In such circumstances Molvi Syed Ali Shah Bhukhari, commonly known as ‘Sir Syed Sani’ had changed the course of history in Beerwah, town in central Kashmir’s Budgam district. He did so much to improve the material and social life of common masses that one can’t fail to admire him.
It was his dedication and contribution that, in spite of 40 years having passed by since he breathed his last, his name is still reverberating with genuine reverence and gratitude among people in general and residents of Beerwah in particular. The inclination of people towards him is so deep that houses and shops are decorated with his photographs.
Bhukhari’s commendable work in education and social awareness at that time compelled the then Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, to visit Beerwah and after observing his flawless, pious and applauded work “Sher-i- Kashmir” honoured him with the title of ‘Sir Syed Sani’ (Second Sir Syed).
Fazil Kashmiri, a famous poet of Kashmir was so inspired with his broad and tolerant outlook that he wrote elegies (Chirag-e-Beerwah) to eulogize and tribute this great personality. The poems are providing glimpse of love for Bhukhari and his contribution that paved way for social change.
Molvi Ali Shah was born on 30 November 1914 in an educated family of Sadipora village in Budgam district. His ancestors are said to have come from Bukhara in Uzbekistan. Fortunately for him and his people at early age he went to Amritsar with his uncle for education and where he got opportunity to get the company of influential and revolutionary personalities, their presence affected him immensely and eventually triggered a desire in his chest to help masses.
When he returned home in 1934, he was deeply moved by witnessing miserable condition of people. So, at the age of 20 he setup a Primary School under the title of ‘Mazhar-ul-Haq’ responding to the dire need of quality education in the area. Said to be the first school in the entire district, it was soon upgraded to the levels of high school where students from North and Center Kashmir got opportunity to receive modern education.
In 1951 he founded social organization ‘Anjuhman Mazhar Ul Haq’ that began working for the progress of socially and economically backward sections of society. To get rid from the social evils, dogmas, stereotypes, he initiated public rallies and sermons to make people aware about these issues. He launched a full fledged campaign against begging, obtrusion in marriages and other social evils that were rampant those days. His humble attempts to reform the society made a strong and positive impact on the society.
He was arrested on alleged militancy activities in 1965 and was later released on parole only to be re-arrested and eventually released in 1969. It was the saddest time as he lost all his written works during this period.
On the advice of Bakshi Ghulam Mohamad, Bhukhari in 1957 entered into politics and contested election from Beerwah constituency on the ticket of the National Conference and later in 1977 on behalf of Janta Party for the Budgam constituency. He unfortunately lost at both occasions.
On 30 March 1979 he breathed his last. By then, he had already earned himself titles like ‘Chirag Beerwah and ‘Sir Syed Sani’. He was buried in the premise of Jamia Masjid Beerwah, near to Mazhar ul Haq School.
This Article was published on Kashmir images last year