THE STORY OF MOHYAL MITTER
(By Dharam Vir Mohan I.F.S. (Retd.) – Editor)
The idea of publishing a Community Magazine precedes the birth of the General Mohyal Sabha on 24th May 1891. A period of renaissance in India with modernization of education in Punjab and north–western areas, traditionally inhabited by Mohyals, had begun in the latter half of the 19th century. Mohyals, who had been very active during the Mughal & Sikh rules, could not be left behind and they jumped in with full zeal and vigor to take advantage of the changed scenario. The elite amongst the Mohyals were well-versed in the languages of the day like Persian, Urdu and Gurmukhi. They learnt English and excelled in various fields such as medicine, law, army, police, civil services etc. They began publishing Community Magazines, either individually or jointly. This trend started in 1880 and a few Mohyali Magazines with Persian names like ‘Tarmim Mohyali’- Improvement of Mohyals, ‘Islah Mohyali’- Mohyali Reforms, ‘Maraqqa Mohyali’- Mohyali Album/Collections and ‘Miratul Mohyali’. The last one, which literally means Mohyal Times, was brought out, single-handedly, by the Mohyal stalwart, Munshi Bakshi Ram Dass Chhibber, who was a vernacular teacher to British Viceroys and their families. All these magazines, which were the fore-runners of “Mohyal Mitter” did not last long, mainly because these did not have the backing of a powerful organization. This lacuna was removed when some of our forefathers sat together on Sunday, the 24th May 1891, pooled their individual strength & resources and established the Mohyal Mitter Sabha at Lahore, (now known as General Mohyal Sabha), and that in turn led to the birth of ‘Mohyal Mitter, ’ the first issue of which, in Urdu, was brought out in September 1891 (with 16 pages). It may be interesting to note that the modern Olympics had begun in the year 1896 only, five years later than the Mohyal Mitter. While the Olympic Games had been interrupted during the years of the World Wars, the Mohyal Mitter has continued uninterruptedly for 121 years and is still going strong.
Objectives of the Publication
The main objectives for publishing the Mohyal Mitter were:
(1)To maintain a permanent record of the Mohyal activities, not only of the Central Sabha, but also of all the local sabhas and individual Mohyals.
(2)To disseminate news about Mohyals like births, marriages, Mundan, employment, promotions, deaths, individual achievements etc. and to discuss failures and successes.
(3)To make the Community aware of the Mohyali customs.
(4)Since Mohyals were spread out from Kabul to Calcutta, the magazine was expected to provide a link between the Mohyal residents at different places and the Central Sabha.
(5)To seek donations for widows, education of children, help to orphans and other needy Mohyals.
(6)To propagate social reforms, including emancipation of women and education of children.
The above objectives were published in the April 1895 issue of Mohyal Mitter.
Guidelines for Mohyal Mitter Laid Down
The subsequent issues carried the following guidelines:
(i)Not to do, or publish, anything for the personal benefit of any individual.
(ii)To publish intellectual, moral and social articles.
(iii)To publish suggestions for the advancement of the Mohyal Community and to publicise the achievements of Mohyal elders in the past.
(iv)To appeal and accept donations for educational assistance to Mohyal children, assistance to widows and the destitute, matrimonial assistance and donations for different projects undertaken by the GMS, from time to time.
(v)To desist from indulging in political affairs of the country.
Subscriber Base – Exponential Expansion in Last Three Decades
Initially, there were only 38 subscribers for the Mohyal Mitter. This increased to 89 in 1892. In 1895, only 500 of copies were being printed. This number increased to 575 in 1927. The yearly subscription for the magazine then was Rs. 2. The rate of subscription for students and those earning less than Rs. 20 per month, was Re. 1.
In 1978, when Rzd. B.D. Bali took over the reins of the GMS, the number of subscribers of Mohyal Mitter was 688 (as on 01/10/1978). The number of Permanent Members of the GMS, entitled to get copies of Mohyal Mitter, free of cost, was 43. There has been an exponential expansion in the readership of the magazine with the result that there is now a general awareness about the Mohyaliyat and about General Mohyal Sabha and its activities. At the time of writing of this article, the number of copies of the magazine being printed is over 3500 and number of Permanent Members, entitled to get free copies of the magazine, has increased to 1800. It will be noted that, while in the first 87 years of its existence, the number of copies of Mohyal Mitter increased from 38 to 688, while subsequently in 33 years, it has jumped to 3500. Similarly, the number of Permanent Members of the GMS, which remained around 43 during the first 87 years of the existence of Mohyal Mitter, has reached 1800 during the subsequent 33 years.
The Printers of Mohyal Mitter
At the time of the starting of the publication of Mohyal Mitter, one Tara Chand Chhibber had put up a press in Lahore called the “Mohyal Mitter Printing Press” and it was decided to get the organ printed from that Press but the arrangement lasted only for a couple of years. For the last around 35 years the Mohyal Mitter is being printed at “Dutta Press”.
Editors of Mohyal Mitter Over the Years
The following (arranged chronologically) have been the Editors of Mohyal Mitter since its inception:
1.Mehta Barkat Ram Vaid
2.Bhai Parmanand Chhibber (He soon left as Arya Samaj
Missionary to the shores of Africa)
3.Mehta Dehra Mal Dutt
4.Chaudhary Puran Chand Dutt
5.Chaudhary Gauri Shankar Dutt
6.Chaudhari Brahm Nath Dutt (Qasir)
7.Bk. Parmanand Dutt
8.Chaudhari Chuni Lal Dutt
9.Chaudhari Jagan Nath Dutt, Mianiwala
10.Chaudhari Brahm Nath Dutt (Qasir) – Second time
11.Chaudhari Chaman Lal Dutt
12.Chaudhari Jagan Nath Dutt, Mianiwala – Second Time
13.Chaudhari Charan Das Dutt
14.Bk. Brij Lal Chhibber
15.Chaudhari jagan Nath Dutt, Mianiwala – Third time
16.Chaudhari Amir Chand Dutt
17.Mehta Sardari Lal Dutt
18.Dr. Sohan Lal Bali
19.Shri Bishambhaar Das Chhibber
19-A Shri G.L. Dutta (Josh), Joint Editor.
20.Principal Dina Nath Dutt
21 Sh. Satya Pal Dutt (Daler Shirani)
22.Sqn. Ldr. J.S. Bhimwal
23.Smt. Uma Mehta Chhibber (nee Dutta), Editor Hindi (1982-87)
24 Dr. Ashok Lav, current Editor – Hindi, w.e.f. July 1987
25.Mehta O.P. Mohan, current Chief Editor w.e.f. August 1989
26.Bk. N.D. Dutta, Executive Editor (English) (Dec. 1991 to 27-10-2009,when he left for his heavenly abode).
27.Mehta Dharam Vir Mohan, current Editor (English), since October 2009
All the editors of Mohyal Mitter were honorary workers who put in huge efforts in bringing out the magazine for which the General Mohyal Sabha and the Mohyal Community, at large, will ever remain grateful to them.
How the MM Survived the Partition Riots – Eternal Indebtedness of the Community to Ch. Amir Chand Dutt & Ch. Jagan Nath Dutt (Mianiwala)
Because of space constraints, it is not possible to write separately on each of them but there is need to mention two of them, namely, Ch. Amir Chand Dutt & Ch. Jagan Nath Dutt (Mianiwala). The former who had served the Mohyal Mitter for over 20 years, was residing at Mohalla Mohyalan, Sheesh Mahal Road, Lahore, at the time of partition. He also had to face the wrath of partition, just like lakhs of others. His house was burnt and vandalized in front of his own eyes. When he was fleeing from Lahore in a truck, with his family, they were stopped by a Muslim Police officer, who had lined them up and fired at them indiscriminately, killing, among others, Ch. Amir Chand’s 26 year-old son, Mehta Om Prakash Dutta. His 22 year-old daughter-in-law with her two infants, and his old parents, besides, he, himself, had been spared. Despite his personal tragedy, he
was undeterred, and, when he reached Amritsar, the first thing he did was to start the publication of Mohyal Mitter, immediately, without any interruption. Chaudhary Jagan Nath Dutt of Miani whose younger brother Ch. Brij Lal Dutt (father of our former Joint Secretary (Finance) Shri Nand Kishore Dutt) was murdered, stayed on, in the sabha’s office in Mohyal Ashram, Lahore for one more month after the partition and managed to bring all the records of the GMS, together with the old issues of the Mohyal Mitter, across the border, leaving his own personal belongings in Pakistan. These and subsequently issues of the Mohyal Mitter have been preserved in leather-bound volumes in the GMS Secretariat and will form the seed of the proposed Mohyal Archives, to be located at the Mohyal Foundation, New Delhi.
Contemporaries of Mohyal Mitter
During the long life of the Mohyal Mitter, many contemporary and parallel magazines had come out at different times. The first one was the :”Mohyal Gazette”, which was brought out from Kala, Dist. Jhelum, by Chaudhary Shyam Das Dutt and was referred to as Kala Gazette. Amongst others, which came and vanished, were “Mohyal Sahayak Patrika”, brought out by Mehta Jagan Nath Dutt, “Young Mohyal” published by Ch. Chuni Lal Dutt of Kanjrur, “Mohyal Sandesh”, the mouthpiece of Mohyal Youngmen’s Association-Rawalpindi, “Mohyal Sewak” – Organ of the Akhil Bhartiya Mohyal Pratinidhi Sabha, New Delhi, “Mohyal Shaheed” by Mehta Bansi Lal Chhibber, “Mohyal Patrika” by Mohyal Sabha Bombay, “Mohyal Milan” by Mohyal Sabha Chandigarh, Sapta Bandhu by MS Panchkula, and last, but not the least, “Mohyal Times” by the Mohyal Education Society. There were two Mohyal centered weeklies, Syasat and Sadai-e-Jamhoor published from Jammu by Bk. Mangat Ram Datt and Rzd. V.K. Bali, respect tively, who occasionally published thought provoking articles on Mohyal themes. The Mitter has survived difficult times, during its epic journey, overcoming heavy odds and outliving competitors leaving them by the way side. There was a time, when things were in such a bad shape that reports of Mohyal Conferences were being published late by two to four months. Some volunteers of the Mohyal Sewak Sabha took out a mock funeral procession of the ailing Mitter carrying it to the office of the GMS. A drawing of the procession had appeared at Page-2 of the October 15, 1912 issue of the Mohyal Mitter. The contemporaries did not survive, mainly because their foundations were built on negativity were weak in contents; besides, they did not have the support of the majority of the Community unlike the Mohyal Mitter.
Periodicity of Mohyal Mitter & Languages of Its Publication
Mohyal Mitter had begun as a monthly Magazine. However, under pressure from certain people and based on a decision taken at the 1906 Conference at Jammu, it was made a fortnightly magazine. This was implemented from April 1907. This put extra pressure on the finances of Mohyal Mitter, which was already in deficit. There was also not enough material shortage of material available for publication. Magazine was being published most irregularly. Things were in such a bad shape that the decision to bring out the magazine fortnightly was rescinded and both the fortnightly issues were combined in one issue w.e.f. June 1913. Originally, in Urdu, a few pages in Hindi were added from October 1966. Subsequently, a few pages in English were also added w.e.f.
March 1975 and the magazine became trilingual. The Urdu portion was discontinued in July 1987 and the magazine became bilingual from that date. The magazine was rejuvenated by the Midas’ touch of Rzd. B.D. Bali, when he took over as President of the
General Mohyal Sabha in 1978. It was given a cosmetic facelift and bestowed with a newly minted format, which was changed from A5 to A4 in January 1992. The cover page was made glossy.
Annual Subscription Kept Low & Affordable
The annual subscription of Mohyal Mitter, at Rs. 100/- is very nominal. With the cost of living going up day-by-day, the cost of production of each copy of the Mohyal Mitter ranges between Rs. 15-20, depending upon the number of pages. Additional expenditure is incurred on the polythene cover, postage, secretarial work, transportation etc. and, on a rough estimate the total cost per copy of the magazine works out to Rs. 300-350, annually. Despite the financial pressure on this account, the yearly subscription has been kept affordable because ithe Mohyal Mitter is the main link between the GMS and the Mohyal Community, at large, and also a link inter-se among the members of the Community.
Secret Behind the Success of Mohyal Mitter
It is said that for the success of any organized society there are four essential requisites. It must have a good leadership, it should have a Constitution laying down its Rules, Regulations, Aims and Objectives, it must have periodical assembly, get-together of its members and it must have an instrument of communication in the shape of a newspaper or a regular magazine. It is fortunate that the GMS, over the years, have had all these ingredients. The GMS has an unimpeachable leadership; it has a written Constitution, which is revised and amended, from time to time; it has assemblies in the form of Melas/Milans, Matrimonial get-togethers, Pratibhashalee Vidyarthi Sammaan functions, General Body Meetings, Meetings with the Presidents/Secretaries of the local sabhas, & Conferences; and it has the community magazine “Mohyal Mitter”. That is precisely why it has been a success story.
Oldest Continuously Published Magazine – Finds Place in Limca Book of Records
Our beloved magazine ‘Mohyal Mitter’ has completed 121 years of its existence and has the distinction of being the oldest continuously published magazine in India. This status has been recognized in the LIMCA BOOK OF RECORDS, which, after inspection of the GMS archives, consisting of old issues of the Mitter and after a thorough investigation by its representatives, has issued a formal certificate and testimonial in this regard to us. This record was mentioned in the 2009 issue and the subsequent editions of the Limica Book of Records. The same can be seen at the GMS website also.
Ageless Wonder – Mohyal Mitter
Unlike humans, who pass through infancy, childhood, youth, old age and finally death, our beloved Mitter is ever young and never ageing, and will continue to be so, for years to come.
JAI MOHYAL! JAI MOHYAL MITTER!