Jagan Nath Azad - A Real Human Being
|Those days , KYC norms were not so stringent. To ascertain credentials of the person, I put three or four questions to him and opened his savings bank account introducing him myself . I got him to sign the Locker Agreement
there and then. As per the understanding with my manager, I waived the prerequisite of the fixed deposit for the locker to this deserving case and handed over the key to him. He put the gold ornament packet in the locker.
Azad sahib was all smiles. I looked at his face - radiant , smiling and cheerful. He politely declined my offer of a cup of tea. |
As another customer was narrating her story of leaving everything in the Valley to save her life and looking for a locker, Azad sahib did not speak much but kept listening.
He then took out a cheque from his pocket and handed it over to me. It was a cheque for something around Rs2,400 drawn in his favour. It was crossed and marked "Payees Account only". The following conversation then took place:
Azad: "This cheque has remained with me for about a month. Can it be encashed now?"
I: "Why not? Right now I can pay you cash for this cheque."
Azad: "But it is marked "Payees Account only". It can not be paid across the counter I have to deposit it in my account with my bankers. They shall collect it."
I: "That is the procedure, but as a special case we can pay the cash to you right this moment. We can purchase this cheque at par and collect it later. We must only be sure about the payee’s credentials. Exceptions are created in banking as well."
Azad: "How are you sure about my credentials?"
I: "Sir, you are Jagan Nath Azad. Scholar and authority on Allama Iqbal. You are a well known poet of the subcontinent. I have seen you many times in Srinagar. You worked in PIB as its Srinagar Bureau chief. And then your nazm on partition … Khudaa ke ghar pey kyaa beeti sanam khaanon pe kyaa guzri…"
Azad sahib smiled at this and said, "I always thought that bankers have nothing to do with literature - least with Urdu. Such things give me hope that Urdu will survive in India."
He picked up the cheque from the table and put it in his pocket. He then got up and shook hands with me. Flinging a warm smile he said, "I had come for this gentleman only. So happy that you helped him. Keep doing this humanitarian work. I shall deposit the cheque in my bank account. Let it get collected in the normal procedure. Rules for payment of "Payees Account" cheques apply to me as well. I can not claim to be an exception. Rules are rules. Thank you."
This brief meeting left a deep impression in my mind. A thinker, a poet, a scholar and an authority on Allama Iqbal accompanying a poor, desperate and hapless individual!
Later I came to know that Azad sahib did not know the man intimately. Only empathy, compassion and human feelings were the key factors for his coming to the bank and seeking a locker for him. He had heard the person narrating his woes per chance. For a man who was respected and admired by all regimes/governments/leaders in the subcontinent, humanity, compassion and sympathy were dearer than any dogmatic religious belief. What a true human being he was!
In 1947, very reluctantly , he left Lahore - left his dear city very late when almost all non-Muslims had moved out. As a sensitive Individual he had felt the pangs of separation from the place of his birth and his beloved city, Lahore. None other than he could understand the woes of a man facing a similar predicament. In that brief visit to my Bank, never did he seek a favour for himself. A job that I was more than ready to do. For his own cheque, he wanted rules to be followed.
After 1947, he kept visiting Lahore for mushairas, literary get togethers and seminars. Let me add lines from a poem that he read in Lahore when he visited the city for first time after 1947:
"Teri mehfil sey jo armaan-o-hasarat ley key niklaa thaa
Voh hasarat ley key aaya hoon, voh armaan ley key aayaa hoon
Tumhaare vaaste aey dosto mein aur kyaa laata
Wattan ki subah tak shaam-e-ghareebaan ley key aaya hoon
Mein apne ghar mein aaya hoon magar andaaz to dekho
Ke apnay aap ko maanind-e-mehmaan ley key aaya hoon"