By Ghulam Rasool Sufi

GR Sufi

It was Sept-Oct 1978 I, along with my 1977 IRS lovely batch mates, were on Bharat Darshan. We reached Tamil Nadu’s famous tourist spot Kanyakumari or Coimbatore.

We were out on site seeing that our Deputy Director Training Sh R.N Puri greeted an elderly fellow tourist, a senior retired Commissioner of Income Tax Department. He was feeling tired and nostalgic about his days in one of India’s premier service – Indian Revenue Service. He was introduced to probationers of 1977 batch.

When I have introduced myself to Mr. Puri, the retired Commissioner remarked “Oh you are from Kashmir. We had a fine, efficient and high on integrity officer Ghulam Hassan from
Kashmir.”

I was thrilled and elated to find such a glorifying description of an officer from Kashmir. Shortly after Bharat Darshan, as part of our training, we were posted in the field. The love for my home state made me request my department to post me to Jammu and Kashmir. Allah has always granted my supplications. I was posted to Jammu in Nov 1978. Shortly after some time, I found Muhtaram Hassan Sahab visiting my office at Transport Yard Jammu with his sincere and fine friend Late Baldev Khullar of Usha Fans fame.

Sh Khullar, like a true secularist Late Bhasin sahib, passed away last year at a ripe age like marhoom Ghulam Hassan sb. He continued his self less friendship with me till his death. When Marhoom Hassan Sahab entered my office room I found a radiant glow on his face. This was obvious that he was happy that a first Muslim direct recruit had entered into his parent service.

Marhoom had entered JK Govt. Service before 1953. During those days INCOME TAX and audit and account services were with the J&K state on account of agreements which late Maharaja Hari Singh had entered with Govt of India after ensuring that Govt of India got only a few subjects i.e. defense, foreign affairs, communications, currency, etc. All other subjects were conceded to the state of J&K.

At the time of unprecedented undemocratic and above all unconstitutional dismissal of Prime Minister of J&K, late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and putting him behind the bars for more than a decade by none other than the “great democrat of the third world. A fellow Kashmiri, Marhoom Munshi sahib’s father, an honest and diehard principled comrade of Sheikh Sahib, Munshi Mohammad Ishaq, had also to be incarcerated.

In 1954-55, the financial autonomy which the State had got under a solemn agreement was also sacrificed at the altar of “ integration”. Consequently, the state INCOME TAX Department got merged with Union INCOME TAX Department.

Hassan sahib, immediately after my introduction with him, on my query informed me that the J&K Income Tax Department officers were given a choice whether they would join center or state cadres. Late Noor Mohammad and a few others opted for state Government. He, later on, reached the highest bureaucratic position of the State – the Chief Secretary.

Late Munshi sahib, fearing political persecution at the hands of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad government, opted for central INCOME TAX Department.

He was transferred as a punishment to Udhampur and Ganga Nagar stations. Ganga Nagar in those days used to be a punishment posting. Hassan Sahab created his own place in these hard places of posting. After Bakshi outlived his utility for Union of India, late G.M Sadiq was placed on the throne of Kashmir.

Hassan Sahab returned to Kashmir as an income tax officer project circle Srinagar – a unit of INCOME TAX Department, which was exclusively meant to investigate Bakshi Sahab and his colleagues’ income tax matters. Hassan sahib, as an income tax officer had a reputation of being a fair but strong-willed officer with his command on tax laws and accounts.

In those days the INCOME TAX practitioners were not as highly qualified as are today. Some touts with little accounting knowledge used to exploit gullible INCOME TAX payers.

Hassan Marhoom had, with a strong hand and determination, exposed such a person. Luck would have it that when I followed him in Srinagar as INCOME TAX authority, much after retirement from INCOME TAX office, this person was singled out by me also. He was once overheard telling someone “Munshi’s junior Mera likha hoowa hissab dekh Raha hai.”

He would be mortally afraid to appear before me. A close acquaintance and reputed Kashmir art goods dealer from Saida Kadal Srinagar used to get exploited by this virtually illiterate practitioner because of his ignorance of tax laws. This taxpayer had to face heavy tax liability. Hassan sahib, when came to know what had happened, congratulated me to make the taxpayers be aware of the pitfalls of getting advice from an “illiterate tax expert.” It was Marhoom Munshi Ghulam Hassan’s professional excellence which made Shiekh Sahab in his next tenure of CM of J&K to bring Hassan Sahab’s deputation to State Sales Tax Department as Commissioner Sales Tax J&K.

Marhoom did a commendable job there and reformed State Sales Tax and procedure by introducing certain income tax practices into State Sales Tax. During the Jagmohan Government, Hassan Sahab became State Subordinate Services chairman. He also headed J&K bank as chairman. During this period I continued to get “Faiz “ and lessons of being fair and a strong-willed officer. Marhoom was a great personality with qualities of head and heart, polite but firm in his ideas, imbibing strong conviction and being steadfast like his father Ishaq Sahab.

He was a great Kashmiri nationalist with a strong conviction in the destiny of our Kashmir. He proved to be an illustrious successor to an illustrious father. He used his retirement days fruitfully by serving his motherland when he edited and published Ishaq Marhoom’s very useful and informative memoirs “Nidayay Haq”. This is a very useful addition to J&K’s literature on modern history – a must read for students of modern political history from 1931 to 1970s.

Munshi Ghulam Hassan was a true Kashmiri Muslim bereft of any sectarian views which were prejudicial to the larger Kashmir narrative. During 2016 uprising when pellet guns were used like toffees, Marhoom Munshi Sahab even in his ailing health joined justice Hussnain Masoodi, Mohammad Shafi Pandit and this “khaksar” to express his anguish and sorrow and appealed the governments of India and Pakistan to enter into a dialogue with J&K’s people to seek a permanent and just reconciliation between the two states and the people of J&K. Shafi Pandit and I visited the departed soul several times.

We have lost a great human being and a great exponent and advocate of Kashmir cause. A great host, a great unifier among different fiqhi and sectarian groups, a great son of the soil has departed. I was planning to visit him a few days ago but, alas, could not meet him just before his departure to the Jannah. My deepest condolences to his family members.

Like all Kashmiris, I mourn his death. He is a beacon of light for all of us. Allah magfarat karay.

(This article was published in Ziraat Times print Edition on July 8th -July 14th 2019)

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