Khushi Ram Padha-Unsung leader of discriminated hilly population

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Shiv Kumar Padha

There has never been dearth of persons who, without any political post or assignment, have proved their worth in the field of politics, service of the mankind and for uplifting the downtrodden without any selfish motive or gaining some political mileage. At the times when Tehsils Basohli, Bani and Billawer were not only considered inaccessible but out of sight and out of mind also, Khushi Ram Padha, a son of poor village grocer came like an angel and proved a succor for the neglected population of these Tehsil, who had been bearing the brunt of the atrocities inflicted upon by the rainless local and district administration.
Khushi Ram Padha, hailing from a poor family always stood by the people of Bani and Basohli through thick and thin. Khushi Ram Padha was contemporary of Pt Prem Nath Dogra, Rishi Kumar Koshal Tilak Raj Sharma, Badgotra, Bhagwat Swaroop, Baldev Singh, Sheikh Abdul Rehman, Trilochan Dutt, Major Pyara Singh, Brig Gansara Singh and many important personalities of the time.
He was born in December 1922 in a poor family at Basohli. He got his education in a local Anglo Vernecular School upto middle standard. Right from his early life he made service of the poor, needy, down trodden, development of the people living in the remote and inaccessible corners of Bani, Basohli and Billawar, a motive of his life.
He was a revolutionary by nature and always remained in the search of an occasion where he could prove a succor for the people. Being a revolutionary by nature he plunged into the state wide Praja Parishad agitation of 1953 for the abolition of permit system and for one constitution, one flag and one Prime Minister (Ek Nishan, Ek Pardhan aur Ek Vidhan) throughout the country.
The police cracked down on agitators and in order to escape the fury of the frenzied police, Khushi Ram Padha along with others went underground. He remained at length for years. Every time Look out warrants was issued against him he changed his hide out to avert the confrontation with the police. Many assaults were made on his life which he escaped cleverly. During the agitation the business of his old father was destroyed and whole family came on the roads. He remained always on guard of the innocent masses against the excesses, atrocities and corruption of the police, revenue, forest and the Block Development Departments and saved them from their involvement in the fabricated cases registered by the police. The incident of 1962 is worth mentioning here when his genius and inquisitive mind made him successful in unveiling the mischievous plans of National Conference before the country. After a thorough checking of the ballot boxes he succeeded in locating a concealed lever attached with the ballot boxes facilitating the party in power to transfer the polled votes from one ballots box to other comfortably. The news, regarding busting of the mischevious trick of the government, spread like wild fire throughout the state and country. Many assaults were made upon his life during his journey from Basohli to Jammu where he was to demonstrate the trick before the then PM and Sadar-e Riyast of Jammu and Kashmir. He was awarded silver medals by the president of Akhil Bhartiya Jan Sangh in 1962-63 for his sincere and exemplary services for the party. During late sixties the people of Bani and those living in the remote corners were faced with famine due to crop failure. Many people lost their lives due to starvation. In order to save the dyeing souls from starvation he spearheaded an agitation for ration for Bani. The agitation got good response from the Entire state. Khusi Ram Padha along with dozens of local workers were arrested and were detained in Kot Bhalwal jail Jammu, where they were tortured by the police and served poison in their meals which they luckily survived. He had many times confrontation with the local and district administration whenever they teased, framed fabricated and implantation cases for minting money from the innocent hilly people. Many times he was beaten before the public for no fault and was kept closed in the local jail but the daring soul never yielded before the barbaric behaviour of the administration and the police. He is an inspiration and source of motivation for the posterity.
(The author is a social
activist from Basohli).