Lal Sahib on death bed told his well wishers,” not be afraid of winter or snow, my decision of final journey has been taken, I have to leave, my final rest place is being prepared, there is no snow and there will be no snow”. This prediction of Lala sahib was proved as after his death on 16 January 2014 there was no snow for 5 days.
Majeed ul Islam Bhat
My father late Khawaja Abdul Rehman Bhat alais Lala sahib was north Kashmir’s known multi dimensional personality who devoted his life in distribution of religious and other books, reading and writing tools. Money was no concern for him; his aim was spreading of education, moral as well as professional.
On 16 January 2014 Lala sahib went for heavenly abode, he breathed last at 5.30 am at SKIMS Soura. Two years had passed but the thoughts and teachings of Lala Sahib are torchbearer for us. Every time we pray and place flowers on his grave, we realise how fragrant he made our lives.
Lala Sahib was the only son of late Khawaja Abdul Aziz Bhat Sopori. Aziz Bhat Sopori was a known saint of his times and was known as Aziz Bhat and Tul Bab Saab as he used to pray in a trunk of Mulberry tree (Tul Kul in Kashmiri) at Handwara near today’s court complex. In early nineties Aziz Bhat Sopori had migrated from mohllah Baba Yousaf Sopore to Handwara. His mission was to spread education and had started a bookshop namely Quran Manzil at Handwara.
It was the only shop in Tehsil Handwara (in that era Sopore , Kupwara and Bandipora were part of Tehsil Handwara). Aziz Bhat Sopori was on forefront against self styled Mullas. During nintees he was a columnist for nowadays Pakistan based newspapers which includes daily Zamindar. His works got destroyed in a devastating fire incident of 1990 at Handwara. Mohmmad-u-din Foauq in his book Tareikh Aqwam Kashmir has mentioned about the contribution of the his family,Bhat family Sopore. To eradicate the illiteracy and ignorance from the area, Aziz Bhat Sopori married in Handwara and got settled there
.When Lala sahib was 13 years old Aziz Bhat Sopori passed away. Lala sahib carried forward the legacy of his father and left no stone unturned to distribute the reading and writing material in every nook and corner of north Kashmir. He had a dedication towards his mission and even on festive occasions and religious gatherings, Lala sahib used to distribute books. In early Sixtees Lala Sahib established the firm under the name and stlyle Abdul Rehman Abdul Rashid Tajran Kutub Handwara and imported journals, newspapers from outside state to facilitate the people with latest tools of information.
Though Lal Sahib got formal education upto second primary only, he has God given qualities and could easily read name of books and recite Holy Quran. Lal sahib got inherited sainthood and was famous in the area under the name Lala Sahib, Rehman Darvesh and Rehman Khoj. Lala Sahib was aware about the importance of education, he played a pivotal role in spreading education in the area and even distributed reading and writing material free among needy. Many of them are famous politicians and some retired from highest government offices.
Lala sahib was a freedom lover and was jailed at Udhampur during Quit Kashmir Moment. Lal Sahib had special affection for children , he used to distribute sweets among children of the area every day. Lala Sahib always stressed upon moral and simple life and was a sufi poet also. Lala Sahibs favourite stanza was “Lai Kar Chi Furkans, Bayet Kar Allah Rehmans…..Wandha Zu Tas Nabi Jani Janans, aein yem dali asi furkanich (Be loyal to Holy Quran, Pray only Allah..I will sacrifice myself for Rasool SAW who provided us the gift of Holy Quran)”
Under the guardianship of Lala Sahib his Sons Akash Amin Bhat, Raja Mohidin Bhat and Majeed Bhat established KPS publications group which includes daily Tameel Irshad, Daily Kashmir Age, Daily Kahwat and Kashtel directory. During the launching ceremony of first daily Kashmiri language newspaper Kahwat on 12-07-2011, Lala sahib said “my mission is to serve people in the field of education and information”.
According to well wishers of Lala Sahib , twice in a month he used to draw light on the subject “Qabar Ki Pehli Raat (first night in grave) and persuaded his well wishers to make preparations for world hereafter. Lala sahib was always seen with pen and dairy and sura yaseen book. Being impressed by the life and achievements of Lala Sahib, a Japanese Journalist Sagaraki Takeshi wrote about Lala sahib in his book on Kashmir Imbroglio.
Death keeps no calendar and on 8th January 2014 Lala Sahib fell seriously ill and was admitted in SKIMS Soura Srinagar. Lal Sahib on death bed told his well wishers,” not be afraid of winter or snow, my decision of final journey has been taken, I have to leave, my final rest place is being prepared, there is no snow and there will be no snow”. This prediction of Lala sahib was proved as after his death on 16 January 2014 there was no snow for 5 days.
A free spirited person like Lala Sahib may not be around us in person but his spirit will live on forever in our hearts.
(The writer is Commercial Taxation Officer Baramulla)