J&K’s 1st Jnanpith awardee Rehman Rahi dies

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File photograph of prolific writer, poet, Jnanpith and Padma Shri Awardee proffessor Rehman Rahi who passed away at his residence in Srinagar on Monday. UNI PHOTO

 Kashmir’s legendary poet and the only winner of Jnanpith awardee from Jammu and Kashmir, Rehman Rahi died in Srinagar on Monday.

Rahi who was 98 years old passed away in the early hours at his Srinagar residence, family sources said. A large number of people from various walks of life attended his funeral which was held a local shrine in old Srinagar

Prof Rahi received various honours for his immense contributions to the language.He also translated works of celebrated poets in other languages into Kashmiri.

Rahi was awarded the Indian Sahitya Akademi Award in 1961 for his poetry collection Nawroz-i-Saba, the Padma Shri in 2000 and India’s highest literary award, the Jnanpith Award (for the year 2004) in 2007.

He is the only J&K writer to be awarded the Jnanpith, India’s highest literary award for his poetic collection Siyah Rood Jaeren Manz (In Black Drizzle ). He was honored with Sahitya Akademi Fellowship in 2000 by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.

He taught at the University of Kashmir and mentored thousands of students and scholars. He also wrote the University anthem.

Prof Rahi was born in Srinagar in 1925 and did schooling at Islamia High School, Srinagar. After completing his post-graduation in Persian and then in English Literature from the University of Kashmir, he joined Kashmir University’s Department of Persian. In 1977 he joined the Department of Kashmiri, where he taught till his retirement. His first job was a clerk in the Public Works Department in Baramulla. He also remained associated with a Kashmir based newspaper as a sub-editor.

Rahi’s death was widely mourned.

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha termed his death as “end of an era”.

“Deeply saddened to learn of the passing away of Jnanpith awardee Prof Rehman Rahi, one of the most influential poets in Kashmiri in recent times. His passing marks the end of an era. My sincere condolences to his family, friends and well-wishers,” Sinha said in a tweet.

Former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said Rahi’s death has left Kashmiri Literature and society with a void that can never be filled.

“Saddened to hear about the sad demise of towering literary personality and Gyanpeeth Awardee Janab Rehman Rahi sb. In his death, Kashmiri Literature and society has been left with a void that can never be filled. My condolences to the family,” she tweeted.

CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami said Rehman Rahi was one of the most outstanding figures in Kashmiri literature.

“..His creative brilliance found expression in various genres of literature. His works reflect cultural and political vicissitudes of Kashmir. They’ll continue to influence young bards and writers. Deep condolences,” tweeted Tarigami.

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