Pt. Amar Nath Vaishnavi is a well known name in the J&K state. He is no more. Sh. Vaishnavi ji breathed his last on July 1, 2012 at Jammu. Pt. A.N. Vaishnavi was the President of All State Kashmiri Pandit Conference ( ASKPC) popularly known as Sanatan Dharam Yuvak Sabha or simply Yuvak Sabha. The organization came into existence in 1931 soon after the communal attacks and riots of 13th July 1931. The events that occurred on that Black Day were communal in character and directed against the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir for not for his being a Dictator but for being a Hindu. Rioters targeted the Hindus, their houses, Business and movable immovable property including temples and shrines. Ever since, ASKPC has been in forefront attending to various aspects of the minority Hindu Community in Kashmir. It was headed by stalwarts of community like Pt. Kashyap Bandhu, Pt. Shiv Naryan Fotedar, Dr. SN Pesion and so on.
Being the President the oldest organization of the Hindus of Kashmir, though a matter of pride, was not the only qualification of Pt. Amar Nath Vaishnavi. The octogenarian leader will in fact be remembered in the history as a proud symbol of Kashmir and its civilisational ethos almost like the world famous holy cave of Amarnath from which he derived the name.
Public life of 87 year old Vaishnavi ji spawns over a period of more than seven decades. He came into contact of RSS at a young age and remained wedded to the nationalist ideology till his end. His long and active public life was spotless, transparent and inspiring. He was a courageous leader who refused to compromise on issues of national importance irrespective of the intensity of unfavorable circumstances. As a result of dedicated life to the cause of nation he attained the stature of father figure and was in fact bestowed the Honour of being called the “Father of the community” by the displaced Kashmiri Hindus. He was affectionately called ‘Lala’.
Pt. Vaishnavi was a teacher by profession devoted to his job. His influence on his students was naturally immense. His entire life was inspiring and one can recall numerous instances to demonstrate his multidimensional life.
During his posting at Handwara he was in charge of NCC also. It so happened that during the Independence Day celebrations on 15th August a Reputed Cabinet Minister from the area was taking salute on Podium as Chief Guest. Several schools were participating in the march Past with their respective flags. Vaishnavi ji noticed that one of the participating schools approaching the dais was holding the National flag as the flag of its contingent. Sensing the possibility of dishonor to the national flag Vaishnavi ji sprung into action and held the flag upright not allowing the leading cadet to bend it towards the chief guest as is the practice. He was unmindful of the consequences. His only concern was not to permit in any manner any disgrace to the tricolor. This incident was considered un-necessary disturbance by some and a courageous act by majority.
He was socially active and was vocal and assertive in raising his voice against the discriminatory and biased policy of the state government. For this he was victimized and transferred to far-flung areas state. But such presumed retribution was transformed into opportunity by Pt. Vaishnavi. His tenure in Laddakh is witness to this fact where he organized innocent Buddhists against the deceitful conversions. Powers that be were not happy with such turn of events.
As a swayamsevak of RSS he was disciplined, obedient and dedicated to both ideology and working. For him the organizational decision was always supreme. He took oath as Vanparastha and remained committed to it. When organization thought his services were required as head of ASKPC, Vaishanvi ji did not hesitate for a moment to join the fray. He was also Mananiya Sanghchalak of Kashmir Vibhag. He regularly attended Shakha as a devotee even at this age. Amar Nath ji Vaishnavi followed a strict Brahmacharya’s life and maintained a good health at this age. His face was radiating the purity of his heart.
Post 1990, after the forced displacement of the minority Hindu Community from Kashmir, Pt. Amar Nath Vaishnavi became synonymous with sufferings, struggle and resistance of the community. His dress, turban, tilak and mannerism demonstrated historic continuity of civilisational ethos of Kashmir. There was hardly any congregation, conference or assembly of the community where Vaishnavi ji was not present. Though he was heading an organization but, he elevated himself above narrow group politics and treated everybody as his own. He was benevolent even with his detractors who would miss no opportunity to malign him. He was actually in communion with the spirit of the people of Kashmir. For him the people of J&K were a family. In his demise state has lost a beloved and compassionate caretaker, nation an able sentinel and the displaced community the adored commander. It is a loss that can never be compensated.
We pay our humble tributes to this great son of Mother India. May! his soul rest in Peace at the Lotus feet of Lord Mahadev.
(On his 6th Death anniversary)
(Writer Ajey Bharti is Former MLC and BJP Spokesperson in Jammu & Kashmir)