Revival Of VIDYA BHAVAN BATYAR Srinagar, Kashmir || LIVE IMAGE


Kashmir Is On The Cusp Of New History. True Kashmiris Are Coming Out Together To Revive And Reclaim Its  History, Heritage And Culture. In More Recent Years There Has Been A Concerted Effort To Rescue Some Iconic Institutions Of Common Heritage From Decades Old Neglect And Apathy.

A case of this good example is the revival of VIDYA BHAVAN, BATYAR, Nawakadal  5th Bridge  Srinagar The two storie building owned by the ALAK SAHIBA TRUST , overlooking the River JEHLUM , is abode of Loed Shiva on one side and  Mata ROOP BHAWANI , the 13th, century saint who was born in this area , on the other side. The credit for its gracious revival goes to Mr. Yasin Zargar of INDUS DISCOVERIES , London. Now that the school is back on its rails admitting only girls it might hence be worthwhile to recall a brief history of the school and a brief about its founders.

Shri. DINA NATH KAUL ( D N KAUL), was born in Batyar Srinagar. He started his career in the PWD department of J&K State. A born social activist he resigned the job and pursued his passion of SOCIAL SERVICE till his end. Ahead of times he broke the shackles of conservative Kashiri Pandit society and joined the ARYA SAMAJ, which was and is the modern conception of HINDUISM. A dyed in wool Arya Samaji and a strict vegetarian he had very friendly relations CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES in Srinagar and Baramulla. He had served in Christian Hospital in Dalgate for several years. He had been entrusted with teaching KASHMIRI language to BRITISH Doctors who were managing the hospital. He was the votary of WIDOW REMARRIAGES which was frowned upon by the conservative society. He arranged the first Widow marriage (after attending the marriage while returning home he was beaten black and blue by his neighbours). He broke the convention of sending his only daughter to the school in Shilwar and Frock instead of PHERAN.He would take her to Arya Samaj (located in S R GUNJ, Srinagar) regularly on SUNDAYS when HAVAN was conducted by the SAMAJ. It might be interesting to the readers that Kaul Sahab was the only Kashmiri Pandit of the Samaj. The conservative Kashmiri Pandit Society had total dislike for Arya Samaj . The community was sure that Kaul Sahab would marry his daughter to a Non Kashmiri. 

He joined the Khadi Bhandar and became the head of the manufacturing and administration in the valley.Khadi Bhandar had two huge manufacturing units of woollen products  --- one located at Shahid Gunj in Srinagar city and the other at PAMPORE engaging hundreds of workers. This was followed by his joining the  ASHRAM OF MAHATMA GANDHI at SEVAGRAM. He is the only Kashmiri to have joined SEVAGRAM ASHRAM.  During this period he became friendly with head of the Christian Missionary Mr. Moore.It was during this period he came into contact with SUSHILA DESHMUKH , a teacher in a NAGPUR famous convent and married her after he had lost his first wife.  After the partition he was asked by Mridula Sarabhai, to look after the homes for widows who had come from across the border after the 1947, raid.He served at various camps in J&K( NIshatSrinagar, Delina , Baramulla and Kalakot at Jammu) . 

During their posting at DELINA , Baramulla, Mrs. Kaul took to teaching the girls of boatmen staying in barges on River Jhelum As a social work.. At this stage Sh. Kaul was nearing his retirement. Both of them started toying with the idea of starting a Co -educational school once they are back in Srinagar.They shared this conception with their close friends who unanimously dismissed it not workable.  All of them said the idea was not sustainable because already the state Government was offering FREE education till post graduation.But their advice did not deter him from the concept. A Governing committee was constituted . Sh. N L WATTAL, the veteran Journalist, as Chairman, Dr.P N Kaul, a bureaucrat , Sh. L N.Tikoo , a businessman , and Sh. J N Kaul as members.

 BIRTH OF VIDYA BHAVAN BATYAR

It was 1958 when VIDYA BHAVAN BATYAR was born.The school was housed in one of the two houses owned by KAULS. A co -educational ENGLISH and HINDI medium school charging Rs. 5.00 as fees. During its first academic year it had only 3 students who were children of their close friend. Mrs Kaul ( later known as BADI BEHEN JI in the whole area ) took to teaching while the administrative job was looked after by Sh. Kaul ( Later on to be known as PANDIT JI , in the whole area).Their friends and well wishers were watching all this with bated breaths. The interest, sincerity and transparency with which BADI BEHEN JI was imparting education spread like wildfire.The admissions started pouring in like flooded waters . With the passage of time both the houses were involved with the expansion. with more than a dozen staff it needed to be shifted . The school hired the building of ALAK SAHIBA TRUST adjoining the Lord Shiva temple. FRom 6th to 10th class were housed in this building with more than 20 trained  teachers in addition to more than 15 teachers looking after the Primary department. on its staff. The school was recognised by the education department upto 10th. class. It might interest the readers that when Badi Behan Ji would walk from her home to the High school people on both sides of the road would stop speaking and stand in respect to her.

Hundreds of students both boys and girls passed out from the school and after getting higher  academic and professional degrees have spread in various parts of the country and abroad. 

This situation continued till 1990, when the community left their homes and hearths in the face of terrorism. After the death of Shri. Kaul in 1985 , Badi Behan Ji continued to run the school. We had to leave the valley after my late father was warned by the terrorist organisation to leave the valley after his live interview with BBC , when he condemned the kidnapping of Mufti's daughter and appealed for the restoration of brotherhood and social fabric. We tried to persuade BADI BEHAN JI to move but she declined, having given sweat and blood to the institution. Because of lack of communication those days and having to look for our survival we lost the connection.

Telling you frankly we had totally stopped to think about it . It was last year when Sh. Parimoo and Sh. S N Pandita had been invited as guest speakers at some seminar, it was Yasin Zargar one of the participants who  took them to the school.  In fact they never knew the school was founded by my grandparents.  It was a pleasant surprise for our family that the present management has maintained the name of VIDYA BHAVAN. My wife also became emotional bcz she had served the school for a decade in the present building. 

We are not concerned about how the present management got control of the school  but it is a great source of satisfaction that they  have retained the name of VIDYA BHAVAN.

We are grateful to the  management, to Sh. Parimoo and Sh. Pandita who both have discovered it  for us. Recently we have come to know that the school and the building has been declared as the HERITAGE BUILDING .

 By- V K WATTAL 



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