By King C Bharati
As the 99th birth anniversary of the eminent freedom fighter and prolific writer Sarwanand Koul Premi approaches on 2nd November 2023, the nation is set to pay homage to a remarkable soul who dedicated his life to the ideals of national integration and cultural harmony. Fondly known as ‘Premi,’ his contributions to literature, social reform, and national unity remain etched in the annals of history, serving as a beacon of inspiration for generations to come.
Born in 1924 to a humble farming family in the Anantnag district, Sarwanand Koul Premi embodied the spirit of resilience and selfless service. His father, Gopi Nath Koul, the first matriculate in their village, instilled in him the values of education and social responsibility. Premi’s unwavering commitment to the nation led him to actively participate in the Quit India Movement from 1942-1946, facing imprisonment on multiple occasions for his unwavering patriotism.
He was one of the few fortunate young Kashmiri freedom fighters whom Mahatma Gandhi had granted a meeting, during which he presented Bapu with one of his famous Hindi poems, “Aav Chalein Ek Sath Chalein.”
Sarwanand Koul Premi was not only a valiant freedom fighter but also a dedicated humanitarian, a revered Gandhian, a prolific broadcaster, a renowned philanthropist, a social reformer, a litterateur, and a translator. His mastery over languages including Hindi, Urdu, Kashmiri, Persian, English, and Sanskrit enabled him to bridge cultural gaps and foster understanding among communities. Notably, his efforts towards facilitating the marriage of orphan Muslim girls exemplified his inclusive and compassionate nature, earning him the epithet ‘Premi’ from the esteemed poet Ghulam Ahmed Mehjoor.
Premi’s literary prowess knew no bounds, with a remarkable collection of over three dozen books to his credit. His translations of timeless classics such as the Bhagavad Gita, Gitanjali, and the Ramayana in Kashmiri stand as a testament to his dedication to preserving the rich cultural heritage of our country. His deep-rooted belief in communal harmony and brotherhood was reflected in his works, serving as a guiding light for the youth of Kashmir and beyond.
Tragically, Sarwanand Koul Premi, along with his son Virender, was ruthlessly murdered by militants in 1990, leaving behind a legacy of unfulfilled justice and a void in the hearts of those who revered his noble ideals. Despite enduring three decades of unyielding struggle for justice, the family’s quest for closure remains unresolved, awaiting the intervention of the highest authorities.
Rajinder Premi, the eldest son of the late Premi, expressed his family’s unwavering determination to seek justice and restore their father’s legacy. He highlighted the tragic circumstances surrounding his father’s untimely demise, urging the authorities to heed the voices of the loyal citizens seeking closure and justice for the exiled community.
However, despite fervent prayers from the family for the long-overdue restoration of justice, the government has persistently maintained a stance of denial. The Home Department in the J & K UT Government has chosen to file a petition challenging the directives of its own SHRC DB judgment dated 12th February 2012. For the past three decades, the distraught family has tirelessly sought justice, facing obstacles at every turn. Despite appeals to both the Government of India and the Government of J&K, their pleas have remained unanswered, leaving them in a state of profound disillusionment
Rajinder Premi emphasized the need for the intervention of key political figures, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, to ensure that the legacy of Sarwanand Koul Premi remains etched in the collective consciousness of the nation.
In recognition of his invaluable contributions, numerous accolades have been bestowed upon Sarwanand Koul Premi. Notably, he was posthumously honoured by the J&K Government in 1997 with a Gold Medal, Cash Award of 1 lakh, and a Citation. The JK Vichar Manch, New Delhi, awarded him the esteemed Shree Bhat Puraskaar in 2000, the Sanjeevani Sharda Kendra, Jammu, conferred upon him the Sharda Saman in 2006, while the Shri Alakh Sahiba Trust, Jammu, honoured him with the First Alakh Saman in 2017.
As the nation prepares to celebrate the centenary of this exemplary son of India, the family of Sarwanand Koul Premi fervently appeals to the authorities in the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory and the Government of India for their compassionate intervention in securing the long-overdue justice for their beloved patriarch. Their relentless pursuit of truth and restoration remains a poignant reminder of the enduring resilience and fortitude of the Kashmiri community.
In a symbolic gesture of reverence and remembrance, the J&K Government renamed the Government Higher Secondary School in Soafshali (Kokernag) in August 2022, honouring Sarwanand Koul Premi’s legacy and contributions to the community.
The Ministry of Communication has also released a special Postal Cover in his honour, further solidifying his esteemed position in the nation’s collective memory. (Click Here For the related Video)
Sarwanand Koul Premi’s life stands as a testament to the enduring power of selfless service, literary excellence, and unwavering dedication to the nation’s ideals. As his 99th birth anniversary approaches, let us honour his memory and carry forward his vision of a united, harmonious India, where the spirit of communal amity and brotherhood reigns supreme.