Lahore has always been the center of educational, cultural and political activities. No wonder it is also the city where the largest number of newspapers have been published.
The first newspaper to come out of Lahore was in the Urdu language, titled Koh-i-Noor. It was published by Munshi Nevil Kishore in 1849, with the support of the government of the East India Company. This is because the government feared word of mouth was more inflammatory than the real news. The printed news was considered more authentic because in the event of inconsistency, the journalist or the editor of the newspaper could be held responsible.
Koh-i-Noor was 12×8 inches spread over eight pages. It only covered government announcements and new laws. Some news from other countries has also been included, with reference to foreign newspapers.
Darya-i-Noor was presented by Faqir Shahsawaruddin. These two newspapers competed and criticized each other, thus contributing to a healthy journalistic tradition.
Punjabi Harkara was published in Gurumukhi script. During and after the War of Independence of 1857, the Company government imposed strict censorship on newspapers. Munshi Harsukh Rai was imprisoned for three years under the press control laws. In his editorial of April 29, 1856, Koh-i-Noor reported that the government was considering restricting press freedom, and journalists should resist such a move.
Koh-i-Noor was printed in English and Urdu, on the same pages, as more people, including local Christians, could speak and read English. Mian Gul Mohammad Munshi translated Urdu columns into English. The newspaper served as a training ground for young journalists. Nadir Ali Shah, Tajuddin Mirza Muahid, Muharram Ali Chishti and Abdullah were the main journalists of the time. They then published their own journals.
An English newspaper, Chronicle of Lahore was published by Syed Waqar Azim. His son, SM Latif, wrote the famous books on the history of Punjab and Lahore and its antiques. Chronicle of Lahore was to be closed soon. Its Punjabi version became a tri-weekly, but it also had to be dropped. Its sister publication in English was also closed due to lack of ads and a small print order. The Urdu section, however, continued until 1890.
The most successful newspaper to come out of Lahore was Paisa Akhbar, founded by Maulvi Mahboob Alam in 1887. The paper was so named because of its selling price. Alam was his editor, calligrapher and printer. It quickly became a leading printing and publishing house, which was to print some 700 books. She has also published magazines, namely, Intikhab Lajawaab, Shareef Bibi for women, Bachhon Ka Akhbar for children and Baghbaan for farmers.
Alam was a strong follower of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.
Paisa Akhbar was a serious journal. His daily print order was 11,000, which was the largest at the time. It survives both its rivalry with the everyday Zamindar and a serious fire. But in the end, he also had to be liquidated. Its mention has survived as a place name (remember Paisa Akhbar Street?).
In the early colonial days, newspapers could not openly criticize the government of the day. In addition, the accounts of various disasters such as earthquakes and floods, and incidents of public interest such as festivals, visits by foreign dignitaries, introduction of electricity, water supply, air and rail services, and even crime incidents could be investigated. from real-time witness accounts.
The 20e Century has brought new opportunities for journalists. Cartoonists and photographers have also become essential members of the team. Ads were now the main source of income / finance for newspapers. The founding of new political parties necessitated their affiliation with newspapers along religious or sectarian lines. Zamindar started publishing as a weekly in 1903. Its owner was Maulvi Sirajuddin Ahmad Khan. The newspaper led the awakening of farmers. When British leaders drafted laws considered harmful to farmers in the canal settlements, Chaudhry Shahabuddin, then speaker of the Punjab Assembly, wrote a fiery column in the newspaper. It was titled Pagrri sambhal Jatta. Eventually the government withdrew the proposed law and the newspaper became popular among the masses.
After Sirajuddin’s death, his son, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, took the reins and made the newspaper a daily. It was published under McLeod Road, Lahore.
Under Zafar Ali Khan Zamindar became the spokesperson for Muslim nationalism. Khan introduced satire and counterattacks in his columns. He was arrested several times, his press was confiscated and heavy fines were imposed, which were paid by his admirers. Today, its impressive building houses a hotel that bears his name, for travelers alighting from the nearby train station. A trust founded by his friends and managed by their descendants, conducts various cultural and journalistic activities in Noon Avenue, Muslim Town. Old newspapers and photographs are available in its archives.
In 1927, Maulana Salik and Ghulam Rasul Mehr resigned from Zamindar and obtained the declaration of Inqilaab. True to its name, the newspaper turned out to be quite a revolutionary publication. The duo raised a hundred rupees each from around 40 friends as a lifetime membership.
It quickly became a successful newspaper. But being a serious newspaper, it has not gained popularity, especially among those seeking humor and satire.
In addition, the newspaper avoided rumors. He strongly supported the Pakistani movement and opposed the Nehru report and declared the communal price unsatisfactory.
To be continued
(This dispatch is dedicated to Mr. Naeem, the Chief Librarian of Government College, Lahore)
The writer is a painter, founding member of the Lahore Conservation Society and the Punjab Artists Association, and former director of the NCA Art Gallery. He can be contacted at [email protected]