Saint Martyr Bawa Jitto
Jhiri is a small village or hamlet situated around 20 kms near Kalyanpur on Jammu-Akhnoor road. It is a prominent pilgrimgrims spot lying near Indo-Pak border (LOC). This sacred spot becomes lively for a couple of days when people from far flung areas irrespective of caste colour, creed and that of religion assemble over here to pay homage and obtain blessings from saint Martyr Bawa Jitto who scarified himself for the justice as a toiling farmer and left an indelible print in the minds of farming community for the generations to come.
Saint Bawa Jitto lived more than 600 years back in a small village namely Aghar Jitto lying around 6 kms away on Katra- Reasi road at the foot of Trikuta hills of Shiri Mata Vaishno Devi- a world reknowed diety Jit Mal or locally named as Bawa Jitto was formal Brahman family and was an avdant devotee of Shri Mata Vaishno Mata Ji . All luck had it that he was deprived of wife in his early part of life and as such was living with his little girl chiled by name Blla Kori. And a pet dog Kalu. His collaterials were always hard of him and was deprived of all his patrimony. He was thus depriveved of everything and so such circumstanced him to realigned his ancestral village and proceeded Shama Chak where his close friend . Iso Megh lived. Shama Chak is also a small villege nearby Jhiri which in that remote past was a barren bushy land under the control of a feudal Jagirdar Mehta Bir Singh. As such, Jit Mal approached him and requested him for tilling a piece of the barron track. He obtained permission on the stipulation that one-forth of the crop will be shared by the owner Mehta Bir Singh and three -fourth will go the teller Bawa Jitto.
With utmost faith, dedication and devotion, Bawa Jitto dreamt of turning that barren track into a flourishing field of crop.
With untiring efforts coupled with dedication devotion of Bawa Jitto alongwith his attendants turned this barren track into a fertile piece of land. And good luck had it that there was a well flourishing crop to which everyone was wonderstruck it was quite unimaginative that such a barren busytrack of the land could ever yield such a flourishing crop.
And when came the moment of sharing of the proceed, Bawa Jitto approached the land lord for the distribution of harvested crop on the lines of stipulated agreement as was earlier decided upon . But Jitto protested as it was aginst the stipulated agreement. But the owner ordered his men to carry of three-fourth of grains by force.
Bawa Jitto became anguished and could not tolerate the injustice meted out to him and in protest struck his sickle into chest which start bleeding profusely and he fell unconsciously on the heap of grains declaring, oh Bir Singh, together with these grains you too find my blood to fend yourself and your all kith and kins. This suicide of Bawa Jitto spread like wild fire in the entire vicinity. It is said that a calamitous storm engulfed the sky with thunders, rains and whirlwind and all grains were washed town from that spot.
Hearing the unbearable the little girl Bua Kori and other attendants rushed to the spot and in a fit of anger they too committed suicide alongwith Bawa Jitto. All this created chaos and confusion amongst the inhabitants. A temple was constructed memory of martyred Bawa Jitto who was later addressed as Saint Mataryed Bawa Jitto most reverentially.
Out of fear Mehat Bir Singh , the land lord and all his family members left home. Bawa Jitto’s sacrifice against feudal land lord for poor farmer’s exploitation. Connonised Bir Singh in the eyes of all locals. And with the passage of time, the local inhabitation started visting this spot on every Kartika Purnima to pay homage to the martyred Bawa Jitto. And obtain blessings. Subsquently, a beautiful samedhi. Astonishingly enough, it is also reported that even the progeny of birds who had taken those grains of maize do flock over here on the day of Kartika Purnima.
A big fair (Mela) is held at Jhiri on Kartika Purnima every year where devotee irrespective of caste, creed come. Apart for paying homage to Bawa Jitto, the affair affords an appropriate chance of intermingly and getting together boosting love, affection and brotherhood amongst all those who assemble over here. The emotional songs, dances are performed and the most prominent Dogra Karks in the revered memorary of Saint Bawa Jitto.
The stalls and shops of all hues apart from display of recreations and entertainments for the children and little kids viz. Jhullas , merry-go-round. There is hustle and bustle with multihued gatherings of people of all shades . Apart from, big Bhandaras and langers are also arranged by locals and other social activists which gives an enchanting and colourful view.
This write up would be incomplete without the mention that all the descendent of those who were responsible for this terrible tragedy come over here with all sorts of offerings to pay homage to Martyr Saint Bawa Jitto who fought for the rights of farmers community.
The Jhiri fair (Mela ) provides platform to all members of all castes to assemble over here revering Bawa Jitto for the sake of tillers against feudal landlordship. He was as well a contemporary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism. This tragic incident is a living legend of revolt against the landlords or jagirdars under Maharajas epitomises the precedent of farmers of erstwhile ages.
There are many more unflinching memorials or white-doomed samadies (small temples)magnifying the tribute to revered Bawa Jitto by each family generation who owns them and pass on these . Deveris to the next generations. The entire spiritual spot is full with them. Deverisa which symbolises the temples contributed by each nuclear family as the devotees who happen to come to his spot each year on ‘Kartika Purnima give facelift of ambience in planned and meticulous manner.
However, apart from all , there is one beautiful park not so well fore-closed which warrant maintainence by the concerned department. However, the floriculture to be need the upkeeping and boosting for beautification- cum-a glorification byway of the more flowering plants, bushes shrubs, climbers and creepers.
The department of Garden and floriculture of the state fort make all efforts in making this spiritual spot Jammu region for promotion, propagation and up-
(The writer is former Dy. Conservator of Forest, J&K)