As condolences pour over the death of Ved Bhasin— the grand old man of journalism in Jammu and Kashmir— All Parties Hurriyat Conference chief Syed Ali Geelani recalls his association with his ‘big brother’ who he calls a bold journalist and a liberal politician.
I was shocked to read about the death of Ved Bhasin. Our relation dates back to the Mujahid Manzil when he would come to meet Moulana Masoodi and I would listen to their conversations like a student.
On 29 September, 2015, I turned 86 year old. Despite being the same age— I came to know after reading his obituary— I always thought of and treated Ved Bhasin as my big brother. He was affectionate, kind and friendly to me. Like Om Prakash Saraf and Kuldeep Nair, I had deep personal and family ties with him.
In 2002, Iftikhar Geelani, my son-in-law— who was then the Delhi bureau chief of the Kashmir Times headed by Ved Bhasin— was arrested and lodged in New Delhi’s Tihar jail for seven months. The love, affection and kindness Ved Bhasin showed to my daughter and my grandchildren at that time, is the best model of human brotherhood.
Whenever I would visit Jammu, I would make sure I met him. He was bold, liberal, independent and realistic person in both journalism and politics. He was an ardent critic of communalism and communal hatred and used to write and openly speak. No wonder he had to face the wrath of the communal forces many times. The communal elements in Jammu attacked him and his office many times for openly speaking against them, but he was bold and fearless and never relented.
On Kashmir issue, Ved Bhasin had a realistic approach. Whenever he was asked about it especially by the BBC, he would say that the wishes and aspirations of the Jammu and Kashmir people must be heard and respected and the decision of the people must become supreme. He would boldly and fearlessly condemn the atrocities and the gagging of peaceful voices of the people of Kashmir.
I remember another favour he did to me: my book ‘Maqtal Se Wapsi’ (Back from the gallows)– which I wrote while serving detention in Ranchi Jail– was released under his chair in 2003. During the book release, I remember his kind remarks: he said that ‘it is usually that a person with great oratory also has supreme command on writing, but I know three persons in Jammu and Kashmir who have best of both the worlds and they are Moulana Masoodi, Shameem Ahmad Shameem and Syed Ali Geelani’.
His death is a personal loss and has created wide vacuum in Jammu and Kashmir which is very difficult to fill. The state government has made Jammu division a foreign territory for me as from 2007 I am not allowed to visit the region. After hearing about his death, I would have traveled to Jammu, but the house detention doesn’t allow me to express my sympathy and love to my two daughters Dr. Anju Bhasin, Anuradha Bhasin in person. With teary eyes, I equally share their sorrow.