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Tributes to Umesh Dobhal
Today, 25th March is the death anniversary of a fearless n journalist of ethics including poet Umesh Dobhal who was diabolically murdered in Hotel Sun n Snow of Pauri Garhwal by the then liquor Mafia for not compromising with them m exposing their cruelty n misdeeds, especially the illicit liquor trade in entire Garhwal with the alleged connivance of the then police officers at the helm.
Had Umesh been been alive today he would have been of 61 years. Today we remember Umesh as a true symbol of genuine, transparent n fearless journalism.
Umesh Dobhal , in fact, represented a transparent facet of clean journalism which meant highlighting the problems of the grass roots n exposing whatever is evil or bad for the people n the society. He was a true embodiment of bravery n genuine protector of the fourth estate.
Hailing from a modest background, Umesh Dobhal was fully committed to reporting n bringing to fore the societal evils n the ugly things that were taking shape in Garhwal Uttarakhand. A journalist who always risked his life to expose the liquor n wood mafias in the Garhwal, Uttarakhand hills ultimately fell prey to the organised gang of Mafias n sacrificed his life for a noble cause.
I personally knew Umesh who was not only a friend but more as a brother. While in Pauri, during 1983 , 85 when H.N Bahuguna was contesting against Chandra Mohan Singh Negi, I saw Umesh actively involved in the coverage day n night. He was in fact a 24×7 journalist always prepared to risk his life for scoops, news n exposing the Mafias n wrong doers.
Having first joined as a Navy Bharat Times staffer from Pauri , Umesh Dobhal later on shifted to Amar Ujala Dainik. He started his career as a journalist from Pauri Times and also wrote for prestigious Nainital Samachar frequently.
I fondly remember how Umesh had helped me personally while he was in Nav Bharat Times from Pauri covering news n views of the people. I happened to be at my In Laws house in Pauri Gaon, Garhwal during 1984 . Just on the top of my in laws house a pushta ( wall of huge stones) build by the local authorities which was in a dilapidated condition fell down blocking the passege n risking several lives of the nearby residents. We complained repeatedly to the concerned authorities but of no avail.
I approached Umesh Dobhal n requested him to cover this news before it is too late. Half of that Pushta has fallen risking my in laws house n lives.To my surprise n pleasure Umesh visited the spot n immediately wrote a three column news with a title ,”PUSHTA BANTE HI DEH GAYA”. The news appeared next day in Nav Bharat Times.
The authorities who were negligent earlier, came running to us. Repaired it completely in record time giving relief to the licalresidents. Such was his commitment to journalism. There are hundreds of other pro people instances when he’d risked his life for highlighting the peoples’ grievances. I remember how the total journalistic fraternity unified after his despicable murder in Uttarakhand as well as in Delhi. I was the first journalist to have sit on a fast unto death at Boat Club demanding CBI enquiry into this episode n the then stalwart of politics HN Bahuguna broke my fast.
Unmesh Dobhal was truly a brave n honest face of Hindi journalism who never compromised his ethics, morality, professionalism n values butgave up his preciou life fighting the liquor n contractor mafia. He bravely embraced death but never surrendered before the Mafias. Salutes to the doyen of honest n courageous journalism.
The Umesh Dobhal Smriti Trust every year organises a seminar, round table discussions or symposium in various parts of Uttarakhand in memory of the late journalist n also felicitates an outstanding journalist with Umesh Dobhal Smriti Trust award to inspire working journalists to fearlessly n courageously expose the wrong doings in the society as Umesh Dobhal did.
Sunil Negi, President, Uttarakhand Journalists Forum