Dr. Mehrajudin Munshi: A Romantic, a Revolutionary

Muhammad Yasin Malik

By profession a doctor, by commitment a passionate human being, he is someone whose vacuum we can”t fill. He loved humanity and upheld the principles that are everlasting and enduring. May his soul rest in peace.

Dr. Qazi Mehrajuddin Munshi played a leading role in Kashmir’s struggle as a JKLF ideologue.  He spent his life serving his people as a doctor, teacher, institution-builder and selfless public intellectual thus becoming an emblem of human dignity, sacrifice and forbearance. He passed away last week. He was 77.

Dr. Mehraj’s quest to serve the people of Kashmir took him far away from his home and family for a period of many years – not once but twice in his life. His first expedition outside of Kashmir was in search of knowledge – to gain professional medical education and training so he could one day return home to contribute as a physician. After completing his MBBS from Madras Medical College, Dr. Mehraj went to the United States to do his residency in Medicine. He then went to the United Kingdom for further training, where he completed his Membership of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom (MRCP). As highly trained doctors were in demand in the West, it was (and still is) rare for doctors trained in places like the U.S.A. and U.K. to return to their home countries. But Dr. Mehraj didn’t want to be part of the “brain drain” – all along his motivation was to obtain up-to-date knowledge and skills so he could put those to use as a practicing physician and also so he could help advance the field of medicine as a whole in Kashmir. Through hard work and dedication, Dr. Mehraj was successful in achieving all of these goals. He became an exceptional doctor – putting into practice outstanding clinical skills and living up to all the high professional standards, values and ethics that patients should expect from their doctor. He also became a renowned professor of medicine, training multiple generations of Kashmiri doctors at Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar. He was the Head of Department at GMC and also directly contributed to the foundation of Jhelum Valley Medical College in 1989 (JVC, now SKIMS Medical College), serving as its Vice Chairperson. Dr. Mehraj credited whatever success he had as physician and medical professor down to one factor – his concern and empathy for others and his desire to help mankind. He was acutely aware of the role and responsibility of a doctor in society and the reality that effective medicine must bridge the gap between science and society and that medicine is more than scientific knowledge of diseases – it is a position of public trust and concerns the experiences, feelings and interpretations of human beings. Dr. Mehraj truly cared about people, which is why his patients respected him so much and trusted him with their lives. This was also the reason why he expected the very best from the medical students he trained – he wanted all Kashmiri doctors to live up to the highest of professional and ethical standards and serve society. It was this same sense of responsibility to society and compassion and concern for others that motivated Dr. Mehraj to contribute towards the Kashmiri struggle for freedom, dignity and justice. Right from his school and college days, he had a dream that Kashmir would someday seek its birthright. During his years of education and training to become doctor, Dr. Mehraj cultivated an interest in world literature, history and politics. His experiences living in democratic societies that enjoyed intellectual and political freedoms added to his belief that Kashmir deserves the very same. He dreamed that Kashmir could someday become a shining example in Asia – a hub of science and learning, respected for its hard work, culture and creativity, enlightened and tolerant society and democratic values.

Courtesy: Greater Kashmir

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