V.K. Tripathi


An important mission of the author Tripathi is communal harmony and his visit to Azamgarh, an Eastern district of India’s northern province UP is a part of that mission.


As a follow up of my April visit to Shibli National College at the initiative of Taiyab bin Tahir sahib and Dr. Salman Sultan, I visited Azamgarh  for nine days from July 26 to August 3, 2008. The objective was to do ground work for creating a base for Sadbhav Mission. Initially we planned a ten days science workshop for Urdu teachers (to increase their reach to non-Muslim students), Madarsa teachers and social activists, and to give lectures on Electrodynamics to M.Sc. students. Taiyab sahib worked very hard to mobilize teachers and students for these events. He created awareness in all the liberal circles of the city. However, the incessant rain for 40 days made us change our strategy as teaching in schools was disrupted and teachers were hard pressed to cover the courses.


We decided to organize one-day science and social awareness sessions in several schools and Madarsas, keeping the M.Sc. program intact. This strategy worked well and brought us closer to hearts of the people. Dr. A. Abdullah’s continuous phone calls from Washington to his numerous friends in Azamgarh gave impetus to these efforts. Dr. Razi Raziuddin also motivated several of his friends. His brother Mr. Wasiuddin organized meetings with wide cross section of social and political activists. Shibli College Principal Dr. Iftekhar Ahmad and his colleagues organized my lectures to PG students and provided every possible help. Mr. Hari Mandir Pandey was an important link between progressive liberal groups. Mr. Raja Karthikeya, pursuing MS at Georgetown University, USA joined me in Azamgarh on July 29 for four days and provided valuable career guidance to students. Mr. Vipin Kumar Singh, a native of Azamgarh pursuing higher studies in Delhi, helped organizing meetings with the youth. Ramesh Maurya and Dhirendra Pandey extended their whole hearted support.


I left IIT Delhi on July 25, 2008 at 5:30 PM. Dr. Gagan Kumar accompanied me to the train station. Vipin Kr. Singh joined me in the train at 7 PM. Next morning at 10 AM we got down at Azamgarh station. Yasir bin Taiyab had come to receive us but we missed each other. We took a tempo and reached Shibli National College Guest House. Within minutes Taiyab Sahib, Yasir, Dr. Salman Sultan, and Dr. Iftekhar Ahmad arrived We discussed the program. Head of the Physics Department Mr. Syed Tahir Hasan heartily agreed to hold my lectures for M.Sc. students from 8 to 9 AM everyday during my entire stay. These lectures on two stream instability, Cerenkov free electron laser and antenna won me tremendous affection from sixty students and Physics faculty. They also responded very warmly to my lectures on grassroots resistance against communalism and offered to work for the cause of communal harmony.


Around noon (July 26) Mr. Wasiuddin came to see me. Same evening he organized a very impressive meeting with 50 prominent people of the city in Dr. Salim Memorial School. As we were about to begin light went off, hence the meeting was held in candle light. People shared their concerns with an open heart.


Next morning I had an important session with the Director of Shibli Academy Dr. Zilli. He is down to earth simple and immensely warm. He appreciated the Sadbhav Mission approach whole heartedly. At 9:30 AM I left for Bilariyaganj to visit a prominent Madarsa Jamia tul Falah. Principal Mr.Mohammad Tahir Madni greeted me with rare warmth and organized my two lectures for 80 students and 15 teachers. I was pleasantly surprised that the students had NCERT English medium Mathematics books and had excellent receptivity. They were free from any complexes or ill will. They liked my lectures on mathematics and science. So was their response to my presentation on communalism and freedom. The madarasa has boys and girls wings with 3000 and 3500 students, mostly day scholars, upto the level of Fazil (B.A.). Most students after high school move to regular schools and do very well over there. For many education stops at that level. At 3 PM I returned to Shibli Guest House. In a little while Mr. Hari Mandir Pandey, arrived. He is a school teacher and a dedicated CPI activist with immense warmth. He apprised me of the progressive traditions and movements in the Azamgarh Varanasi Faizabad belt. Learning about Kabir, Premchand, Kaifi Azmi, Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, Namvar Singh and several others was most heartening. He also introduced me to Mr. Vibhuti Narain Rai on phone. Rai is a rare police officer who exposed sectarian elements in police and runs a center on secularism in a village. In the evening Pandey ji took me to CPI office, in a semi-pakka old house, where his son Dhirendra and Ramesh cooked food for us. In a little while activists returned from flood affected villages. They liked our approach on secularism.


On July 28 we began with the M.Sc. lecture. By then 100 school teachers and 12th grade students arrived. I gave lectures on “Observations and Inferences” and “Gravitation”. The response was amazing. By 12:30 faculty of Shibli College joined and we had a very lively session on secularism. In the afternoon Taiyab sahib brought some friends and we talked about the social and economic conditions in the district. In the evening Prof. Hannan organized a special dinner where I met liberal and learned scholars.


On July 29, after my M.Sc. lecture I went to Shibli National Girls High School. Principal Mrs. Hannan warmly introduced me to grade 11 and 12 students and her faculty colleagues. They responded very enthusiastically to my lecture on vectors and later on Satyagraha. At 11 AM I returned to Shibli College where faculty had assembled to a discussion on Challenges to Freedom. By then Raja Karthikeya also arrived. The discussions aroused tremendous interest. In the evening General Secretary of Primary Teachers Association Mr. Pandey and six of his colleagues came to see me. He told me that the percentage of Muslim teachers in government schools is only a few percent. Urdu teachers are even fewer. I expressed my willingness to meet them and offered to hold a two days workshop for the members of the association.


July 30 was a memorable day. Soon after my M.Sc. lecture, Raja and I left for Saraimir to visit Madarsatul Islah, the progressive school that produced outstanding scholars, some of whom are working in renowned universities like JNU and AMU. We passed by Fariha, the hometown of Dr. Abdullah where his relatives greeted us with great affection. Mr. Hari Mandir Pandey arrived from his school to accompany us. At 11 AM we reached the madarsa. It gave the look of Sevagram Ashram. The manager of the madarsa received us with amazing warmth. He was sitting in a 100 years old hut where several freedom fighters had come. Dr. Abdullah’s grand father Hameed-u-Din Sahib had played a key role in bringing up the institution. Manager sahib introduced us to Principal Anis Ahmad Islahi. He was simple and completely unassuming. He took us to the teaching block. Within minutes the meeting hall was filled to capacity with the faculty of Madarsa. They were relaxed and filled with affection. Principal in his introductory remarks mentioned that the school strives to develop objectivity, compassion and scientific and technical competence. It reverberated so closely to Gandhian thinking. He asked me to speak about Sadbhav Mission and give a lecture on science. I began with an anecdote how my teacher Maulvi Ahmad Bakhsh taught me and prayed for my critically ill sister and then briefly introduced Sadbhav Mission. As I began my lecture on Newton’s laws of motion every one felt the thrill. One hour passed by with so much excitement. Then I talked about how modern science became a tool of imperialism and how could it become an instrument of liberation. In this context I put forth the current challenges before the masses of the world. I closed with t qawwali “Awam” The response was overwhelming. I was deeply touched when an eighty years old teacher embraced me. Sadab sang a beautiful ghazal Manager sahib ordered an excellent food and personally took care to serve it.


By 2:30 PM we left for Beena Para to visit Bin-e-Sina Tibbiya college and hospital. It is a grand medical college far away from the city with very competent and committed faculty and excellent laboratories and facilities. Perincipal Prof. Hakim Irshad Ahmad is a visionary yet down to earth simple and warm. He gave a tour of the college. I was pleasantly surprised to find quotations from Charak sanhita and other Ayurveda books all around. By then faculty had assembled in the meeting hall. I talked about communal harmony for half an hour. People expressed their solidarity with the Mission. From there we drove to Hari Mandir Pandey’s village Parsaha. The drive was pleasant and scenic Both sides of the road had mango gardens. Parsaha is a small but beautiful village. We were immensely delighted to meet Pandeji’s family. At 6:30 PM we returned to Shibli Guest House. At 8 PM to our most pleasant surprise Islah’s Principal Anis sahib and Sadaab arrived. Both of them presented excellent ghazals.


July 31 was another memorable day. Mr. Raja Karthilkeya gave a lecture on career opportunities to a large audience at Shibli college. It aroused lot of interest. However, I, immediately after my M.Sc. lecture, left for Badharia with Dr. Ahmad Safi Ansari. Dr. Ansari is a just retired Chemistry professor with Gandhian outlook. He has built a high school, ‘Ziauddin Khan Memorial Senior Secondary School’, in Badharia, 35 km from Azamgarh, on the land of his grand father(nana) entirely with the family resources. As I saw the school I was amazed by its grand lay out, spacious class rooms, excellent furniture and blackboard, fully equipped school buses, excellent faculty accommodation, a very competent faculty and an ideal teacher to student ratio. The Principal is a Christian from Kerela. His wife teaches English. Other teachers are an excellent mix of Hindus and Muslims and teach with great dedication. The tuition in this English medium school is Rs. 250 per month. It was a great pleasure giving lectures to high school students. Their reception was excellent. By 3 PM we returned to Azamgarh. At 4-6:30 PM I went Dr. Salim Memorial School to attend a meeting on the theme “Editorial Vision of Prem Chand and the Present Time”.It brought me in contact with the literary circle. People spoke with considerable depth. I also made a presentation pointing out the elite centric tilt of the media, helping the communal and imperialistic polity. It won peoples approval. In the evening Taiyab Sahib arranged a grand dinner at his residence. Freedom struggle and partition figured predominantly in the discussion with staunch secular and Gandhian stand point.


On August 1 Raja gave a lecture at Shibli Girls High School. I continued with my M.Sc. program. At 9:30 I visited Dr. Salim Memorial School that has emerged in last four years into an excellent center of learning for modest income groups. From there Wasiuddin Sahib took me to Shibli National Inter College. Principal Mr.Abu Mohammad Khan greeted us warmly and quickly arranged my lecture on light to12th grade students. There were over 120 students and every one listened in rapt attention. They solved the problems I gave to them with great enthusiasm. I felt immensely pleased. Later I discovered that there were two other sections in 12th grade. I suggested that Sadbhav Mission can hold 2 days Physics Workshop for all the 400 students in November. Later I talked to Physics faculty and PG students of Shibli College and they volunteered to render their services for the cause. At noon Dr.  arranged my lecture on secularism in the Department of Zoology. In the afternoon Raja left for Delhi after a satisfying trip. At 3 PM Vipin Kumar Singh took me to Advance Phonology Centre run by Mr. Vishal Bharti. It was a strong group of 30 people anxious to improve communication skills. I made a presentation on communalism and our responsibility. People opened their heart through a stream of wonderful questions. I felt immensely delighted. In the evening Mr. Bharti arranged my talk to another group of 70 people. I spoke on social responsibility of science. Again the response was very heartening.


On August 2 I gave my concluding lecture to M.Sc. students. It was followed by an outpouring of affection. Tahir Sahib sang an excellent ghazal, Sikandar Ashraf sahib said beautiful sher and students sang songs. Hari Mandir Pandey ji sang a folk song. 10 to 11 I gave a lecture at Shibli Girls High School on Light and then left for Mau. Mr. G.P. Bernwal (Akhilesh) had arranged a meeting in Shahi Katra. There were 20 people, including Manager Zia ul Hasan Sahib, Maulvi Mehfooz ur Rehman and Municipal Chairman Mr.Tayyab Palki. There are 4 big Madarsas and six high schools in the city. So far there has been no program for academic interaction between the faculty or students of these institutions. When I put forth such a proposal they found it worth considering. Zia sahib made a very fervent appeal to strengthen national unity. Same day Subhasini Ali had a public meeting in the town hence meeting ended at 4 PM and I headed to the bus stand.


August 3 was my last day. From 8:30 to 11:30 AM I held a Maths workshop with the teachers of Dr. Salim Memorial School. It was a wonderful experience for all. Then we had half an hour discussion with social activists and teachers from the city. Wasiuddin Sahib took me to the guest house where I ate lunch sent by Taiyab sahib. Then he dropped me at Taiyab Sahib’s place. I took leave from him and Yasir with a heavy heart. Hari Mandir Pandey ji came with me from there to the guest house. IPTA general Secretary Baijnath Yadav also arrived with a friend. Then Safi Sahib came along with ten friends. It was an amazing last minute get together. At 3:30 PM I left for train station with Dr. Iftekhar Ahmad Sahib and Pandey ji. Iftikhar Sahib left for Lucknow. Pandey ji, aijnath and his friend took me to the compartment. At 4:30 PM my train left for Delhi.

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