News Agency Kashmir News Trust [KNT]
When someone you love becomes a memory, that memory becomes a treasure. There are people still existing in Kashmir Valley who have a treasure that they have kept secure in their houses and they cherish the rich memories associated with the late Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad.
Photographs of Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad (BGM) can be found hanging on the walls in the houses of those who remember and love this late Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir even today.
Muhammad Sultan Mandoo (now deceased), an elderly man from Kashmir capital Srinagar, who has the highest degree of regard and love for BGM, narrated an episode to this Reporter. This episode tells us about the generosity, care, and love of the BGM-known as people-friendly Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad died on 9 July 1972. He was a politician belonging to the National Conference, who served as the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir from 1953 to 1964.
Muhammad Sultan told news agency Kashmir News Trust [KNT]: “It was 1961, probably 1962, I don’t know the exact date when Prime Minister BGM was holding Public Darbar in the premises of PM Private House (Present Banquet Hall Srinagar). A large number of people used to attend this Darbar, highlighting their daily problems, seeking the redressal.”
“The weather was pleasant while BGM was lending his ear to the people who were raising multiple issues. ‘Badshah-ho’ ‘Badshah-ho’- suddenly a man entered the premises along with his tonga, that was pulled by a frail mare. A tonga is a light carriage or curricle drawn by one horse. People were surprised to see the man, seeking help from the Prime Minister, asking him to provide a new tonga and horse for him.”
“Those days, there was ‘tonga adda’ near present BudShah Hotel Srinagar where tongawallas ferried passengers to and fro from Lal Chowk to Haba Kadal, Zaina Kadal.”
“The man who was crying and seeking help from the Prime Minister was known as ‘Alle Dul’. Why he was called ‘Alle-Dul’ is a different story. He was weak and so was his mare. The shopkeepers in Maisuma and Lal Chowk areas used to chide him for owning a shabby tonga and frail mare. Passengers in a bid to save themselves from the slurs that these shopkeepers were throwing on this ‘Alle-Dul’ were avoiding him and in this way, ‘Alle-Dul’ was finding it hard to earn a living.”
“Badshah-ho’ nobody prefers my tonga. Everyone is poking fun at me for possessing a shabby tonga. Please help me, I am dying of starvation, they call me ‘Alle-Dul’, ‘Alle-Dul’ whenever I carry any passenger” ‘Alle-Dul’ conveyed to Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad.
“The Prime Minister smiled at him and said from onwards, people will call you ‘All-Good’.
“The Prime Minister sent a message to Abdul Ahad Khan-the then president Tonga Drivers Association, whose office was at Maisuma locality of Kashmir capital Srinagar. When Khan arrived, the Prime Minister asked him to get a beautiful and colorful tonga and a physically powerful white horse and he will pay him cash instantly.”
“Darbar continued and BGM talked to ‘Alle-Dul’ (now All-Good). Abdul Ahad Khan- president Tonga Drivers Association in the meantime arrived on spot with a colorful tonga and beautiful robust white horse and handed it over to ‘All-Good’. Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad smiled and asked ‘All-Good’ to give him a ride. ‘All-Good’ drove the tonga around TRC road, carrying the Prime Minister on it and after the ride reached back their destination.”
The Prime Minister asked Abdul Ahad Khan to sell the shabby tonga and frail mare to someone and give that money to ‘All-Good’. ‘All-Good’ broke down and asked the Prime Minister not to do so because he said this mare is very loyal to him. The Prime Minister smiled and asked him to keep this old tonga along with mare too. From now onwards all will call you ‘All-Good’ and those who will insult you will be jailed,” he said with a smile.
The Prime Minister asked the president Tonga Drivers Association to get a neat and new dress, including kurta, waist-coat, trousers and shoes for ‘All-Good’. “Everything was arranged and ‘All-Good’ left the Darbar with a smiling face, wearing a new dress and driving new tonga.”
“Onwards whenever ‘Alle-Dul’ passed through the roads carrying passengers in his new tonga, shopkeepers yelled at him-‘All-Good’, ‘All-Good’.
The Prime Minister also arranged a scholarship for the education of the son of the poor ‘All-Good. His son is a lawyer now, settled in London.” (KNT)