Rajinder PremiSome are born with God given extra ordinary abilities, creative acumen and talent, who by virtue of such sublime qualities give the world new direction. These people look and behave as ordinary citizens, but their intellect and sensibilities make them towering, to carve out a niche for themselves and make an everlasting impact, thus leave behind a great legacy. Lalla Ji, as we called him out of our love & respect, was one such legendary soul. Amar Nath Vaishnavi was born in August 1925. As a child in his school days, he had developed social, political commitment which grew with the passing years. He had the inborn qualities of a prune Hindu heart and remained for his full life a devout Hindu. Lalla was interested in community-affairs from his infancy days, as a conscious Kashmiri Pandit and became to be un-challenged leader of Kashmiri Pandits and became the President of All State Kashmiri Pandit Conference (ASKPC). He was not only popular within his own community, but was also respected by the majority community of Muslims in Kashmir as well as Dogras of Jammu & Ladakhis also. Vaishnavi was appointed as a teacher in the State Education Department and was posted outside the Valley for most of service career. Lalla Ji had his early education at Jammu, in Ranbir School, where it is said that Pandit Vaid Vaishnav Dutt was his classmate. His Father’s transfer took Vaishnavi back to Srinagar, where he joined and worked in Bhagat Singh movement. It is said that many of his friends, Bal Ji Zutshi, Dina Nath Nadim, Jagan Nath Kaul and even his elder brother Ram Nath Vaishnavi were already connected with Bhagat Singh movement. Vaishnavi was much influenced by the Arya Samaj movement also, as he worked in DAV School Rainawari and later in Pathankot. He got connected with the Jan Sangh and RSS also. He worked actively as a Pracharak and was made Incharge of the ‘Shakhaas’ of the RSS. Vaishnavi had also participated very actively, against the permit system and it was the Jammu Praja Parishad which launched an agitation against it, which also attracted Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherji to the state, who finally laid-down his life for ending the permit Raj in J&K. State Police arrested Late Vaishnavi, under preventive detention Act & was charged besides other things for supplying arms to the agitators, from Pathankot. It is said that after Supreme Court judgment in 1955 Vaishnavi was ordered to be released, by the Chief Justice Bench. Vaishnavi organized Janamashtami Procession in Handwara, a neighbouring town of the Indo-Pak border, a complaint was lodged and he was transferred. During Parmishori Agitation in 1967, the Hindu Action Committee led by S N Fotedar was formed. Some known KPs including Pt. Vaishnavi became a part of this committee. This Kashmiri Pandit Agitation, the only successful agitation of KPs so far saw a fortnight curfew. It also saw lathi charges, police firing, police repression, deaths of so many agitators and it attracted nationwide attention. Then Home Minister Y B Chavan visited the valley aftermath of the agitation. Post migration Pt. Vaishnavi had been an inspiration for the younger generation. He took control of the displaced affairs of the exiled community into his hands at Jammu and worked closely with KP Sabha Jammu, which resulted into the setting up of tented accommodation, Relief-organization, adjusting displaced people in schools or other Govt. buildings. He cherished dream of continuing Publication of daily ‘Martand’ a voice of KPs of Kashmir. Vaishnavi’s unflinching integrity and his love for his community can’t be forgotten by the exiled community. His untiring services to the whole humanity will always be remembered by all, as he had devoted his entire life for human cause, for which he remained a lifelong activist. Since I joined the arena of Social Service, after we landed in Delhi in May 1990, after we were forced to flee from our homeland, Kashmir, in the backdrop of martyrdom of my illustrious father & beloved younger brother. I became the first Kashmiri displaced to be associated with Kashmiri Samiti Delhi (KSD), where I was appointed as chief-co-ordinator in 1991 and subsequently became the Secretary of KSD in 1992, when it was headed by Chaman Lal Gadoo as President. During these 2 years of my stay in KSD we were coordinating with our Jammu biradari through Vaishnavi only. My contact & rapport with Lalla Ji developed more frequently thick, when BJP constituted a Kashmiri cell in Delhi State Unit at 14, Pandit Pant Marg, under the chairmanship of C L Gadoo and I was made as founder General Secretary of “J&K Sangam”, when late Kidar Nath Sahni was President Delhi Pradesh BJP. Late A N Vaishnavi would come to attend our meetings, seminars and symposia directly from Jammu and would discuss all matters of migrant relief, rehabilitation & welfare measures. After our 3 years of stay in JK Sangam, I was advised by J N Kaul (Papa Ji) who came calling at my Lodhi-Road residence, on one hot humid morning of August month, desired me to assist him in All India Kashmiri Samaj (AIKS), of which he was recently then elected its President. He said we have watched you during your stay in KSD and recently in JK Sangam and I have been personally much impressed with your untiring services for the exiled community. I vividly remember AIKS, under J N Kaul, visiting 1st time various migrant camps of Jammu, Nagrota, Udhampur and Batal Bali, so there would be a close interaction with Vaishnavi. I started understanding more about this leader. Vaishnavi was a part of the delegation of the Kashmiri Pandits which was invited by the standing committee of Parliament Ministry of Home Affairs, to hear us in Parliament-annexe about our hardships, difficulties and problems being faced by the exiled community outside their homeland. The delegation was led by M K Kaw President, AIKS. A joint community representation was made by Late Kaw himself which was unanimously prepared by all of us earlier. Vaishnavi was very happy on our conduct and approach during the whole exercise. When the standing committee prepared its report and submitted to Government of India, its recommendation, I took a copy of these recommendations to Jammu for Vaishnavi. On seeing this copy he was much, impressed by my concern and respect for him. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) was hearing us during the petition of genocide during the year 1993-1999 and during some hearings Vaishnavi was also present on my request. He was much impressed by my documentation work and arguments, after which he came to my Lodhi Road residence to give me a pat for all this.
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