Monthly Archives: August 2016

From Kaif to Danish Mujtaba, a legacy of sportspersons from Sangam city

Allahabad, UTTAR PRADESH :

Allahabad :

Sangam city is famous not only for its brilliant academicians and towering political personalities, but also because of its sportspersons who have made it big on the national and international stage in various disciplines. Cricketers, gymnasts, hockey players or shuttlers, Allahabad lads have always made their presence felt whenever they have got an opportunity.

Heading the list is Mohammad Kaif who made it to the national squad and soon found a place in the record books with his match-winning knock at NatWest trophy in 2002 where he scored an unbeaten 87 in partnership with another cricket hero, Yuvraj Singh, to clinch the trophy for India at Lord’s cricket ground.

Kaif was the most successful captain of UP in the Ranji Trophy, as under his leadership the home team won their maiden Ranji Trophy title, beating Bengal in a thriller played at Lucknow in 2006. Kaif has played 13 Tests, 125 one-day internationals and 177 first class matches. However, donning a new role Kaif will now lead his new state, Chattisgarh, which will make its debut in Ranji Trophy in the 2016-17 domestic season.

Another cherished moment for Allahabad was when five of its cricketers including Ashish Winston Zaidi, Obaid Kamal, Jyoti Yadav, Mohd Saif and Mohd Kaif represented UP in the 1998 Ranji Trophy final against Karnataka.

The history of gymnastics in Allahabad dates back to 1989 when the National Sports Academy (NSA), headed by its chief patron Dr UK Mishra, made a beginning in the sport with a handful of boys. His efforts bore fruits when the 2010 Commonwealth Games made gymnast Ashish Kumar an instant star, as he created history and became the first Indian to win medals in gymnastics for the country.

In badminton, the city has produced number of outstanding players like Suresh Goel, Damayanti Tambe, TN Seth, Abhinn Shyam Gupta, Sushant Saxena and few others. Goel was the men’s national singles champion on five occasions from 1962 to 1970 and he also won national titles in men’s doubles and mixed doubles.

The story of local sporting heroes’ march to glory would be incomplete without the mention of Danish Mujtaba who became the captain of Indian team at the young age of 23 and produced some memorable performances at international level. He was the only player from the city who participated in the Rio Olympics, 2016.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Allahabad / TNN / August 29th, 2016

New DC for Mandya takes charge


Mandya CMC member Shashikumar greeting the new Deputy Commissioner, S. Ziyaullah, on Friday. Photo: Special Arrangement
Mandya CMC member Shashikumar greeting the new Deputy Commissioner, S. Ziyaullah, on Friday. Photo: Special Arrangement

S. Ziyaullah assumed office as the Deputy Commissioner of Mandya district on Friday. He took over from M.N. Ajay Nagabhushan, who was posted as commissioner of Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, in the presence of several district officials and employees of various departments.

Mr. Ziyaullah, a KAS officer promoted in 2008, earlier served as Managing Director of the Hutti Gold Mines Company Limited.

The new DC said that he would give importance to implementation of the Government welfare schemes besides continuing all ongoing programmes launched during the tenure of Mr. Nagabhushan.

Senior officials from the district and some Mandya City Municipal Council (CMC) members greeted him with bouquets.

source: / The Hindu / Home> National> Karnataka / by Staff Correspondent / Mandya – August 12th, 2016

The Notes of his life

Mattanacherry, Ernakulam – KERALA :

For nearly two hours Umbayee (P.A. Ibrahim) regaled a small audience at a hotel in Kochi. He sang his heart out. He moved to the lobby when he overheard the manager, who was not all that keen to have him on board, say, “He has a wonderful voice and sings well too. But he has the looks of a criminal.” Umbayee remembers saying to himself, “Sir, not just the looks, I’m a criminal.”

Life was a long struggle for Umbayee. A tough childhood, constant conflict with his father who did not approve of his interest in music, poverty – Umbayee was drawn into the vortex of crime. Smuggling watches, perfumes and such stuff in return for US dollars, drinking away his woes, he was being sucked into the slush though music was always there around him.

The story of Umbayee’s life is unravelled in all honesty in his biography titles Ragam Bhairavi, which will be released at a function to be held at the Kerala Fine Arts Hall on August 21 at 6 p.m.

“Sometime in 2005 my story squeezed into 42 pages appeared in a Malayalam magazine. Really I don’t think my story is worth telling anyone outside. But this happened. It was an interview that got a tremendous response. That’s when publishers came forward with the suggestion of turning my life’s experiences into a book,” says Umbayee.

It took nearly six years to complete. “This happened because of various reasons. This narration and writing down happened only when I was free. Then when the draft was ready I thought the language was not mine. My friend Hameed P.E. also felt the same. We decided to rewrite in a language that was truthful, intimate. Hameed assisted in the writing. That’s why it took all these years.”

The book records faithfully Umbayee’s life, from his childhood, playing the tabla, listening to music and playing for programmes on the sly to popularising Malayalam ghazals that has made him what he his today.

It was filmmaker John Abraham who first used the name Umbayee in the titles of his film Amma Ariyan, in which he acted and his voice was used. He composed one song, Urangaan urangaan nee…’ for the film Novel that is his brief tryst with films.

“When I read my story frankly I cried. God was so kind to me. People have been there in crucial phases of life helping forward, people whom I had not met before. I firmly believe that an artiste and art is for the society. Had it not been for the society I would not have survived.”

There are poignant moments in the book that Umbayee narrates with no filter. Like the one when his daughter spotted him as he walked past the Fatima Girls High School at Fort Kochi. “My eldest daughter Shailaja asked me the next day if I had walked past the school. I shook my head. She looked at sme straight in my face and said that her friends told her that he was drunk and swaying from side to side. That really hit me hard. I stopped drinking.”

Mattancherry, Umbayee’s hometown, was a huge influence on Umbayee. “There was music all around. You only had to find it. There were singers like Mehboob bhai (H. Mehboob), Dasettan (K.J. Yesudas) who were inspiration for a whole generation. My biggest blessing was being able to play the tabla for Mehboob bhai. I also got to listen to numerous legendary musicians. One performance that I can never forget is Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Allah Rakha ‘live.’ That’s when I realised to stop playing the tabla and there was so much to learn.”

Umbayee’s Bombay days after being packed off as a trainee electrician when he did not know the difference between ‘AC and DC’ forms a major chunk of the book. The city changed his life. “It was here that I met my guru, Ustad Mujawar Ali Khan. I don’t know what made him accept me as his disciple. My guru was a sort of wandering minstrel, here today gone to tomorrow to some dargah.”

For nearly seven interrupted years Umbayee studied music from Mujawar Ali Khan. “In between, I used to come home. Smuggling helped finance those trips. Then one day my guru left Bombay never to come back. I still don’t know what happened to him.”

Life in Kochi struggling to make ends meet was again a challenge. He sang in a hotel, worked as laundry manager and also kept singing. It was during this phase that he brought out his first album, Aadab that had nine of Hasrat Jaipuri’s Urdu ‘shers.’ He has since then released 19 more.

The idea of Malayalam ghazals was born after a successful programme in New Delhi. It was not easy as most of established poets were not willing to give their poems to an unknown singer. “That was when a waiter at the hotel where I worked told me about Venu V. Desom. We met and that was how my first Malayalam album, Pranamam came about.”

There was no looking back for Umbayee. Poets like ONV Kurup, Yusufali Kecheri, and Sachidanandan have lent their poems, his albums have hit the mark, and his mehfils are a huge draw everywhere.

“All that I’m doing now telling my audience something which greats like Mehdi Hassan and Jagjit Singh did in Urdu and Hindi. I’m simply putting all that into Malayalam. If there is one message in my life it is how music or the arts can lift a person when he has plunged to the depths. There is so much life in our music that needs to be explored. And if there is one dream it is to set up an institution for Hindustani music,” says Umbayee.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Features> Metroplus / by K. Pradeep / Kochi – August 19th, 2016

Najma Heptulla appointed Governor of poll-bound Manipur

Najma A Heptulla | PTI
Najma A Heptulla | PTI

Former union minister Najma A Heptulla, who lost her cabinet post in the last reshuffle, was appointed Governor of poll-bound Manipur. She was one of the four new governors appointed by the Centre, along with those for Assam, Punjab and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. President Pranab Mukherjee issued the orders on Wednesday.

Heptulla had resigned from the Union Ministry on July 12, 2016 after crossing 75 years of age. She will now relieve V Shamuganathan, Governor of Meghalaya, who has been holding additional duties with regard to Manipur since September 30, last year.

Apart from Heptulla at Manipur, Banwarilal Purohit has been given charge of Assam, VP Singh Badnore made Governor of Punjab —which too is headed for Assembly elections next year— and Prof Jagdish Mukhi named Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in place of Lt Gen (Retd) AK Singh, said an official communique from the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Incidentally, the name of Tamil Nadu governor, whose terms comes to a close at the end of this month,  does not figure in this list, though there were strong rumours that the incumbent, K Rosaiah, could be replaced by BJP veteran from Karnataka, Chairman of Karnataka Legislative Council D H Shankaramurthy.

source: / The New Indian Express / Home> Nation / by Online Desk / August 17th, 2016

My memorabilia of muslims in Chitradurga

Chitradurga, KARNATAKA :


by Dr. C.G. Narasimhan, Senior Consultant Surgeon

The Eid Milan get-together held recently in Mysuru and the talk given by the Imam-e-Haram of Makkah, Saleh bin Mohammad bi Ibrahim Aal Talib, during his visit to Mysuru some time back has prompted me to write about my association with Muslims during my younger days I spent in Chitradurga.

In the year 1890, Sir K. Seshadri Iyer, the then Dewan of Mysore, started Insurance Scheme under the name Mysore Government Insurance Department (MGID). It is now called KGID and has its building in Bengaluru. It took some time for the people of Mysore State to accept the new concept of insuring their lives then. Agents were appointed all over the State and necessary propaganda was carried out. My grandfather Singa Iyengar was one of the pioneers in spreading the message of taking life insurance policies.

After his retirement as a bench clerk in the Law Courts some time in 1915, he took up the agency of MGID in Chitaldrug (as it was called then). In an effort to popularise the new scheme he got his black umbrella embroidered with slogans ‘Insure Your Life today’ to impress people and go around whirling it. I am told that people started calling him ‘Gileet Singa Iyengar’ for his knack of convincing them to take policies. It was at this time he came in contact with the general public of the town, particularly the Muslims.

Several of his friends of this community used to visit his house on Dharmashala road in Chitradurga. One such person was Rahman Sab whom I as a boy of 6 or 7 years remember with the traditional beard and pajamas visiting our house for a cup of coffee every morning even after my grandfather’s death.

My father Garudachar stepped into his father’s shoes in every sense of the term. He also made a number of Muslim friends, went a step further in talking to them in their dialect Urdu. I remember him calling the seniors as ‘Hazarat’ and others as Chacha. There was one Jaleel sab who was working as an attender in the Central Library of the town. He was calling my father as ‘Bhateeja.’ One Abdul Gani, a very popular Drill and Scout teacher in the Boys High School, was another good friend of my father.

Muslims in Chitradurga those days in 1940s and 50s were mainly concentrated in three localities, Assar Mohalla, Khazi Mohalla and Baaharpet (Horapete in Kannada). The ever active senior Congress leader Jaffer Sharif from the Assar Mohalla area started his political career by winning his election to the Town Municipal Council of Chitradurga as a 24-year-old youth in the early 50s against a senior Gandhian H.C. Narayana Iyengar. Another Muslim luminary C.A.K. Junaidi, who was an Advocate and a popular person became the President of the Municipal Council.

There was one boys Urdu Middle School in the town of Chitradurga which had a total population of 24,000 or so then. The Head Master was Abdul Rahman, a tall gentleman. All his children were all Ur Rahmans like Afzal, Mohamed and Fazl, the first and second were good Basket Ball players. All the Muslim students joining High School after LS exam were necessarily admitted to the English Medium Class along with some of us. So most of my classmates were Muslim boys. To name a few they are Abdul Samad, who retired as the Superintending Engineer of KEB, Wazeer Ahmed, who became a Geologist and joined GSI, Majid Hussain, who later became Special Assistant to Divisional Commissioner, Mysore, Rahmath Ulla, Abdul Khuddus, Md Umar, Ata ulla, Md Shafi and Mubeen. Some of them used to wear the classical red tubular cap with black thread tassels, known commonly as Turkey cap or Fez, Tarboosh.

After we entered the Intermediate College where we had co-education I do remember the names of some contemporary girls, Shakirunnisa, Sakinabi, Zainabi, Mehrunnisa and Nazbunnisa who was the sister of Junaidi mentioned above. It may be of interest to note that all of them were coming in sarees like the other girls.

My association with the Muslim boys was so much that I used to talk to them only in Urdu and my friend Samad taught me how to read and write Urdu which I have not forgotten even today. I can easily write my name in Urdu. This has gone a long way in winning the confidence of my Muslim patients in Mysuru.

There were two Mosques for a population of about one thousand Muslims in Chitradurga. One in Assar Mohalla and the other in Horapete area. The former was called Jamia Masjid known for its beautiful architecture supposed to have been built by Tipu Sultan. The backdrop of the hill added to its beauty. There were Muslim dwellings only on the left side of the mosque; other sides were occupied by Hindus. Right in front of the Mosque there was Uttaradi Matadakeri occupied by Brahmins. One Bodarayachar used to arrange Harikatha discourses during Rama Navami annually across the road in front of the Mosque which indicates the absolute harmony that existed between the communities. Allowing general public to draw water from a well in the compound of the Mosque during water scarcity was another act of peaceful co-existence.

As a youngster I used to go into the premises of the Mosque and emerge out through the hind wicket gate which opened to Chickpete. My house being within a stone’s throw from the Mosque, we used to hear the morning prayer Azaan which was rendered without mike. It was like a soothing alarm to wake up particularly during my college days. The mellifluence of such morning prayers nowadays are marred by the high volume speakers and the din in the atmosphere. ‘Huli Vesha,’ the dancing ritual during Moharrum was the other attraction to us those days. A person getting painted with yellow and black stripes and jumping on the road in the garb of a tiger was a regular event in the town. One Gafoor Sab was a master in this art which is vanishing these days. Our house was a destination for him to entertain for a while and drink a glass full of hot milk and go.

Finally, I cannot forget our maamool Jutka saab Ameer shouting ‘Bajoo, Bajoo’ to clear the traffic while coming from Railway Station which was on the outskirts on Davangere road.


Note: I want to comment (after all, ‘comment is free’ is SOM’s motto) on three points made by the writer Dr. C.G. Narasimhan (CGN). First about the Intermediate college with co-education where Muslim girls used to come “in sarees like the other girls.” The same is my experience when I studied in Intermediate college and First Grade College with co-education at Madikeri, Kodagu. Muslim girls used to come in sarees. Sadly, because of religious extremism seen these days of vote-bank politics in democracies we have a different, divisive dress-choice in our schools and colleges where some students show off their religions by dressing differently and thereby distancing themselves from the mainstream. In America, the term ‘neutral dress’ means the clothes students wear normally without any distinct religious identification.

Second point is about Dr. CGN learning Urdu and how it helped him in his profession in later days. Like smile, speech as a common language too brings people together and makes them intimate, builds confidence. Let us remember that Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s Muslim Pakistan was split asunder because the West Pakistan insisted the Bengali-speaking East Pakistan to speak Urdu and accept it as official language. A case where a common religion could not hold the country together and got itself divided on the basis of different languages — Bangladesh was born. If India was divided on the basis of religion, Pakistan was divided on the basis of language. These priests and politicians thus fragmented a loving, innocent humanity.

Third point is about Azaan, call to prayer. Those days there was no technology to use high volume speakers in my village town in Kodagu. But these days loud speakers blare, in some cases wantonly and for too long than what is considered normal. —KBG

source: / Star of Mysore / Home> General News / August 19th, 2016

It’s not a dog’s world, finds activist

Mangaluru, KARNATAKA :

Animal lover Tauseef authors a book which chronicles the story of stray dogs

About six years ago, when 29-year-old Tauseef Ahmed started volunteering for the Animal Care Trust, he was advised against it. Reason: He is a Muslim. Tauseef, an MBA graduate, currently runs a real estate agency based in Mangaluru. He hails from Kudremukh in Chikkamgaluru district and grew up in a family that loves animals.

Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, he said, “At any given time, you can find at least 6-7 dogs sleeping near the garage of our home. My parents sensitised us to show compassion towards animals. Once in Mangaluru, people started questioning me in the name of religion. I felt religion is being misinterpreted. I consulted religious heads, who told me that the scientific reason could be to prevent the spread of infection. Whenever I share a post on social media about a rescue, while a majority of people appreciate my work, there are a few who tell me that I am not doing the right thing. For me, there is nothing more important than saving a life. When people ask why I rescue animals, I tell them, I always wanted to be a super hero and this is the only way I can feel being one. I am living my dream by being involved in rescues,” he said.

Tauseef is working towards bringing about a change in society. For the past six years, he has been a volunteer and rescue in-charge at Animal Care Trust (ACT). Through ACT’s Human Education Programme, they visit schools. “One day, a Muslim girl told me that in case she touched a dog, she would have to take a bath seven times. I tell children that if it is God who has created the universe, he would not create animals if they were not meant to be touched. I have noticed that this attitude is more in Mangaluru. I will try and convince children that there is nothing wrong in touching dogs.”

The number of volunteers in Mangaluru is very low. According to Tauseef, for a population of about six lakh, we have just 50-60 volunteers. “There are many people who express love towards animals, but we are not able to get sufficient volunteers. Our dream is to launch the neighbourhood dog community and we are working towards it,” he said.

“The other campaign that ACT has launched is’Go Desi”. Like cars, when it comes to dogs, people prefer imported ones such as Siberian Huskies. We have observed that the there is a drop in demand in Labradors and German Shepherds. People often forget that these breeds come from puppy mills. Some people take care of them until they start feeling that the dog is a burden. ACT has been extensively promoting “Go Desi” in an effort to promote adoption of local breeds. At the end of the day, having a desi dog means fewer visits to the vet.”

Straying around you

Tauseef has authored a book ‘Straying Around You’ which is a life story of a stray dog. This is an attempt to explain the hardships faced by these beautiful souls. The 100-page book and out of 500 copies released last month, about 350 copies have already been sold. A dog narrates the story and most of the narration is based on real-life experiences, he said.

source: / Bangalore Mirror / Home> News> State / by Deepthi Sanjiv, Bangalore Mirror Bureau / August 18th, 2016

Kadapa pacer Suleman grabs all 10 wickets

Kadapa (Dhuvur Mandal) , ANDHRA PRADESH :



Bowls 32.2 overs unchanged in match against Krishna District

Claiming 10 wickets is big achievement in any form of cricket more so if the bowler is a medium pacer.

The feat was achieved by Suleman of Kadapa in an under-19 inter-district match against Krishna at the newly laid wicket at Venkatgiri in Nellore district on Sunday. He bowled 32.2 overs from one end unchanged to run through the rival side.

Though Krishna District went on to win the match, the 18-year-old pacer from Dhuvur mandal grabbed the attention of both coaches and administrators looking for talented young cricketers.

Earlier, for Andhra Cricket Association, players like Sk. Mahaboob Basha (Guntur), Naresh (Anantapur), Suraj Preetham (Srikakulam) and Rambabu (East Godavari) scalped all 10 wickets both in the board and State matches.

“This boy is playing his fourth match of the season. Last year though he was in the team he could not play. He is 5 feet 7 inches tall and has a gentle run-up to the wicket. He sticks to his basics by bowling wicket to wicket,” said Rehman, an umpire from Kadapa, who saw induction of Suleman in cricket.

Mr. Rehman said that Suleman was a product of sub-centres spruced by the Kadapa District Cricket Association to promote the game in rural areas. “We have sub-centres at Proddatur, Pulampeta, and Nandalor. He was spotted in the selection trials staged to identify rookie players”.

Mr. Yugandhar Reddy, an administrator from Anantapur, felt that Suleman should be inducted into ACA academies to hone skills in a more methodical manner. “He appears to have the wherewithal and temperament to make it to the big league. Experienced coaches should groom him as a quality spearhead.”

Suleman adds income to his family by taking up sundry agricultural work and during cricket season he gives his best as a medium pacer.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Andhra Pradesh / by J.R. Shridharan / Vijayawada – August 16th, 2016

Encyclopaedia of Bandar

Machilipatnam(Bandar), Krishna District,  ANDHRA PRADESH :

Historian Mohammed Silar with a pot collected from a Buddhist site at Gudivada in Krishna district.
Historian Mohammed Silar with a pot collected from a Buddhist site at Gudivada in Krishna district.

‘Machilipatnam Sarvasvam’, (Encyclopaedia of Bandar), written by Bandar-based modern historian and numismatist Mohammed Silar, is all set to be released by the end of June. The book focuses on the flourishing of Buddhism and Jainism in Krishna district as well as individuals and institutions which brought laurels to the port town.

In 2010, he wrote his first book ‘Tara Tarala Bandar Charitra’, which became a reference guide for history research scholars. It was reprinted in 2013. “My second book has a detailed narration about the rule of several dynasties in Masula – from Mughal, Dutch to British and French. The history of India’s third municipality, Machilipatnam Municipality, is also one of the key chapters of the encyclopaedia,” Mr. Silar said.

Based on Battiprolu inscription in Pulinda script, Mr. Silar is trying to establish the birth of Telugu language in Machilipatnam. As Machilipatnam played an important role in the evolution of education and literature in Andhra Pradesh, the book chronicles the lives of many luminaries including Madras University’s first elected Vice-Chancellor Raghupathi Venkataratnam Naidu of Machilipatnam.

Mr. Silar, a retired Special Grade Tahsildar and a Food Inspector during the cyclonic storm in 1977, has been engaged in documenting the glorious past of the town. “Bandar population was 64,000 in 1865 as against 9,000 of Vijayawada. The demography shows the glorious past and development of the tiny town in those days”, he says.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Andhra Pradesh / by T. Appala Naidu / Machilipatnam – June 05th, 2014

British Prison testimony to sacrifices of freedom fighters

Andhra Pradesh :

Built in 1750s, it was used to confine freedom fighters from Krishna and Guntur districts till another jail was built in Vijayawada in 1920s

The remains of the British Prison at Bandarkota village near Machilipatnam in Krishna district.
The remains of the British Prison at Bandarkota village near Machilipatnam in Krishna district.

A British construction here stands as a witness to the bravery and sacrifices of the freedom fighters of Masulipatnam and Krishna district.

The giant building, known as ‘British Prison’, reminds one of the history of freedom struggle in Andhra Pradesh.

“It was built after the Anglo-French war in 1750s. The British required a prison in Machilipatnam to incarcerate the local freedom fighters within the area of Krishna and Guntur districts and Nalgonda in Telangana State during the freedom struggle,” local historian Mohammed Silar toldThe Hindu .

According to available literature on Machilipatnam, it was the only prison to confine the freedom fighters until another prison was built in Vijayawada in early 1920s.

Jaggery unit

‘Masula History’ penned by Chitta Bala Krishna Sastry in 1922 predicts that Machilipatnam would witness rapid industrial activity, by citing the jaggery production unit set up in the British prison by then.

“After the British left the prison by early 1920s, local entrepreneur Jaldu Rama Rao obtained permission from the British to use the prison premises for production of jaggery and sugar,” said Mr. Silar. However, sugar cane production had to be stopped by mid 1940s, owing to various business reasons.

Currently, the British prison is owned by the family of Jaldu Rama Rao.

Now, an old woman resides at the entrance of the site, which is yet to get the heritage status.

Only if it gets the heritage status, any conservatory initiatives by the Archaeological Survey of India could be expected to take place.

Another heritage structure

Ironically, the British prison is located opposite another heritage site which was a hospital during the Nizam’s period.

The efforts made by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) for the conservation of the British prison as well as the other sites at Bandarkota have not yielded any results so far.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Andhra Pradesh / Bankarkota(Krishna) / August 15th, 2016

School where Bismil, Ashfaqullah studied struggles to commemorate past



On the eve of the country’s 69th Independence Day, the Abbie Rich Inter College, one of the oldest schools in Uttar Pradesh, is struggling to preserve its heritage. The school building, a hundred years old, is in dire need of repairs. The school is the alma mater of Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaqullah, who, long before their participation in the Kakori train robbery of 1927, were classmates and friends here. The school even has their attendance records up to 1919.
Abbey Rich is owned by the Methodist Church of India (MCI) and run on funds raised by Christian minority institutions. The nearly 700 students are mostly from poor families, with no fees charged from them till class VIII. At present, the school is looking for funds to renovate its buildings. However, fund constraints and absence of financial help from the government has brought the school to dire straits.

Abbey Rich has a past that is intimately connected with Uttar Pradesh and the rest of the country. Bismil and Ashfaqullah forged their well-known friendship while students here. Moreover, its alumni fought in both the First and Second World Wars. In the latter, three teachers and five students are known to have joined the armed forces. Their names have been commemorated in a wall plaque.

In 1991, some students put up statues of the two martyrs on the school grounds. Abbey Rich authorities have since wanted to replace them with better statues in marble and have written several times to the state government. However, no reply has been received. Meanwhile, the statues are placed facing the wall, making it difficult for anyone to see the faces either from inside or outside the school.

“Abbie Leonard Rich was an American social worker who came to Shahjahanpur in the 1850s and began teaching children under a tree. In 1857, he was forced to flee the place because people did not know he was not connected to the East India Company,” said principal Mihir Phillips.

Rich returned a few years later and the government gave him some land on rent to set up a school. In 1867, it moved to another building and got affiliation till class X, one of the first in the province. Finally it moved into the current building in 1916, build on land donated by a local nawab.

“We still have the attendance records of Ashfaqullah and Ram Prasad Bismil. They were here till class VIII, in section B actually. The students and staff feel proud to share this heritage,” said Phillips.

There is an important incident from the freedom struggle connected to both martyrs. In 1919, police raided the school to arrest both the boys. “But then principal Rufus Charan stopped the police at the gate. This gave time to the two boys to escape,” the principal said.

Professor Bikram Mani, who retired from the school told TOI, “This used to be the best school of the city but everything changed with time. We provide free education and this is probably not what people need these days. Otherwise, it would have been declared a heritage institution.”

source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Bareilly / Kanwardeep Singh / TNN / August 23rd, 2016