Speakers in a webinar pay tributes to late Agha Ashraf
Precious Kashmir News
Srinagar, August 12: Renowned scholar, educationist and public intellectual Late Agha Ashraf Ali was remembered during a webinar organised by Agha Shahid Ali Writers’ Cooperative in collaboration with Ziraat Times. The webinar was attended by various eminent personalities.
Speaking on the occasion, Asgar Samoon, Principal Secretary, Education & Skill Department, J&K, said that Agha sahab was an emancipated and liberated soul whose extempore, bold and fearless way of talking will live with us for a long time to come. “He was an inspiration for youth. His first and last love was education and his aim was to turn literacy into education in a way that will benefit our society,” said Samoon. “He was one of the few living intellectuals of Kashmir whose vision if realised will do wonders for us.”
He said that the education department will sponsor any author who wants to write a book on Agha Ashraf Ali.
“In addition to it we will work on including a chapter on his life history in our school syllabus,” said Samoon. “Our biggest tribute to him will be to strengthen our education sector. We are already working on training teachers, skill development courses for students and other such things. We will take forward his ideas and strive for better education of our children.”
Senior lawyer and philanthropist, Zaffar Shah, while sharing his tributes, said that “Agha sahab was a fearless man. He would say what he wanted to. Not all people are able to say what they wish to. Education was very close to his heart, and he would often bring grassroots education in his conversations. He was rich with his own self. His self respect, his honour did not flow from the official position he held. He had his own personality and charm. What made him great was his cherished dream that all our young people should have a very good quality education.”
He said that Agha Ashraf’s life revolved around education and tribute to him will be to convert his house into museum and research institute, where young people can come and get inspired from his personality and work.
- R. Sufi, former Chief Information Commissioner, J&K, while reflecting on his experience of knowing Agha sahab as a public intellectual and as a neighbour, said that “when he first met him, he felt as if he had known Agha sahab for years.”
“He was an educationist to the core and education was all over his heart and mind. Lately, I have been reading his Urdu memoir “Kuch toa kahiye ki loag kehte hain”. It is a book that reflects 70-80 years of history or education in J&K. He has also slightly touched upon politics and has not minced words in that expression”, Sufi said.
Farooq Nazki, Kashmiri poet, writer and broadcaster, while paying his tributes to Agha sahab, said that while “a man is usually known in the time of his difficulties, and not in happiness, he got to know Agha sahab more profoundly after the loss of his beloved son Agha Shahid Ali.”
“Agha Shahid’s loss had impacted him deeply, but he never let that tragedy to overwhelm him. Such was the strength of his spirit,” Nazki said adding that it is unfortunate that no political regime or administration gave him due respect and position which he deserved.
Vijay Dhar chairperson Delhi Public School (DPS) Society, recalled his association with the Agha family and how Agha Ashraf’s pearls of wisdom shaped his life.
“Agha sahab’s contribution to education in J&K is enormous, and he believed that if teachers were not educated, children will not be educated,” said Vijay while recommending that the College of Education at Srinagar be named after him, as a tribute to him for establishing that institution.