The decision to name an educational institution after Sarwanand Koul Premi by the Union Territory administration has rekindled the memories of the late poet, teacher, intellectual, freedom fighter and social activist.
Locals believe that this gesture will serve as a connect between Kashmir's glorious past and the hoped tomorrow of communal harmony.
Sarwanand Koul Premi and his son Verinder Koul, 27, were killed by the militants in April 1990 after they were abducted from their home in Soaf Shali village of Anantnag district.
Premi had ignored the advice of friends to migrate out with the beginning of the militant violence in Kashmir.
As his friends often recalled, he believed in the goodness of Kashmir. He believed that as a teacher and social worker, who had devoted his life to the welfare of his village, how could anyone harm him and why.
Premi wrote about two dozen books. He translated Bhagwat Gita and Tagore's 'Gitanjali' into Kashmiri language.
His prayer room in Soaf Shali village had the Bhagwat Gita and the Quran placed side by side.
32 years after he was killed by the militants, the UT government has named the Soaf Shali Higher Secondary school in Kokarnag area of Anantnag district after Sarwanand Koul Premi.
The renaming of the school after such an illustrious son of the soil, who was killed because he represented the eclectic, tolerant and Sufist culture of Kashmir, has been welcomed by all locals of Soaf Shali village and the entire Anantnag district.
"It was long overdue. Sarwanandji had become an icon of our village. The naming of the school after him will become a connect between our glorious past and the hoped future of coexistence," said Ghulam Ahmad, a resident of Soaf Shali village.
Rajinder Premi, son of Sarwanand Koul told IANS, "It is a great honour although belated. The deputy commissioner of Anantnag had recommended naming of the village school, primary health centre and the district library in Anantnag town after my father."
"Anyway, we welcome the decision. The locals of the area including former legislators have requested that the Lt governor Manoj Sinha should personally do the honours in presence of late Premi's family when an official function is held to rename the school. I as his son and other members of the family promise to be there if the hon'ble Lt governor decides to attend the function," Rajinder said.
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