I learnt of the passing away of Kamran Kazmi Sahib early yesterday morning while already on way to Aligarh from our mutual friend Wasim Ahmad aka "Bhindi" and was thus unable to put the sad news on the network. I notice that his son Rehan (who very thoughtfully also rang me up soon after the burial) has already notified his father's sad, last inevitable journey.
Kamran Kazmi was the son of a highly regarded civil servant Muizuddin Ahmad, who played a very important role in actual ushering in of "Green Revolution" in UP. The family is among the old Allahabad Muslim elite. His maternal grandfather Mr Abdul Wasey was one of the pillars of UP magistracy during the period the British empire was on its last legs. As City Magistrate of Agra in 1942 it was he who let off the young Atal Bihari Vajpayee for offences relating to participation in the "Quit India Movement" - an episode, that many will remember, was revived during Vajpayee ji's tenure as Prime Minister. Two of his maternal uncles were distinguished academics: Prof Nafis Ahmed (known as 'Addha' in pre 1947 Aligarh on account of his short stature, was a distinguished Geographer who later migrated to Pakistan and palyed a significant role in resource mapping of the erstwhile East Pakistan; his other uncle Prof Rais Ahmed was a Professor of Physics at AMU and later occupied key positions as Chief of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and Vice Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC) apart from being Vice Chancellor of the Kashmir University.
Kamran Sahib's claim to fame was not simply on account of being the scion of a distinguished family - he was indedd an exceedingly humane person with a clear head and noble heart. Time and again he approached me and many others associated with the Government for sorting out problems of strangers whose troubles he came to know and with whom he had nothing to do. On a couple of occasions, however, he took the trouble of contacting me to tell that on further inquiries he found that the version of the person on whose behalf he had put in a word was not correct. Such altruism tinged with a sense of responsibility is not very common. I had often wondered aloud during his healthier days as to how a person running his own business could be so considerate and free of vices.
His reservoir of knowledge of and concern with the well being of his alma mater was phenomenal. Even during his illness he would not let go of this concern and constantly faulted me for my indifference to the travails of AMU. It is doubtful if many educational institutions anywhere in the world would be blessed with such caring alumni who had
no personal vested interest in the in institution beyond a genuine sense of belonging and feelings of joy and sorrow depending on how the "beloved" was faring.
It is truly said that the true mettle of a person is seen when he/ she is faced with adversity. The bravery and stoic fortitude with which he faced his grave ailment was simply remarkable - it bordered on unbelievable. I should know as I was very much privy to his medical tribulations since the was first detected with ascites (fluid in the
abdominal cavity). My good friend Prof Nirmal Kumar, the Gastroenterologist who diagnosed his condition was quite candid with him not simply about the diaganosis but also the prognosis despite my request to him to be 'roundabou'. The experienced clinician that "Nirmal Bhai" is, he assured me that people like Kmran Kazmi 'cope better if
they know the whole story'. I doubt if Kmaran Sahib had taken his family in confidence in the matter at least initially. He would periodically update me over the phone about his condition from Allahabad - his versions were a mix of optimism and realism. I can only recall such bravery from just another person, the late Prof Izhar Husain Professor
of Mathematics at AMU (that is another episode to be narrated at the proper time). All I can say is that in my present assignment I come across so many individuals facing serious illness - among those one knew in their "healthier days" many were picture of boldness and courage which gave way to despair and gnawing anxiety in the face of life threatening situations which was quite natural and understandable. With people like Mr Kmran Kazmi it was therefore inexplicable and unnatural -one would not know how to "deal" with him during such period of distress. His "normal conversation" was frankly quite disconcerting. All in all here was a person of extraordinary courage and total detachment.
He deserves to be as much celebrated as mourned by the members of the network.
*Mr. Naved Masood is an AMU Alum and a senior Civil Servant in Govt. of India and he is based in New Delhi. He can be reached at email@example.com
Note : Syed Kamran Kazmi stayed in AMU from 1963 to 1969 and completed his M.Sc. (Physics) in 1969 and settled down in Allahabad. He also served as member of AMU Court from 1992 to 2003.