Iron lady of Kashmir who boosted women’s education dies at 77

During her years in government service, Masoodi always paid attention towards women’s empowerment and setting up of libraries was her top priority as she had an opinion that books empower people, especially the younger generation.

Written by Mir Ehsan | Srinagar | Updated: October 6, 2017 10:16 am
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Attiqa Bano Masoodi, 77, also known as Bhenji who retired as director of libraries in Kashmir, passed away after a prolonged illness in north Kashmir’s Sopore town. She was known for her work in the education sector, uplift of women and preservation of heritage and culture. Due to her dedication, punctuality and tough nature towards her job, she earned title of an ‘’iron lady of Kashmir’’.

During her years in government service, Masoodi always paid attention towards women’s empowerment and setting up of libraries was her top priority as she had an opinion that books empower people, especially the younger generation.

After her retirement from the government service in 2000, she set up several educational institutions in north Kashmir’s Sopore town. Besides setting up of College of Education, she laid the foundation for one of the biggest libraries with thousands of books on varied topics at Sopore. She also started publishing a Kashmiri weekly newspaper, Meeras.

Daughter of a famous religious scholar, she had never married and used to wear traditional burka even during her official assignments. However, her biggest contribution is Meeras Mehal – a museum, unique of its kind in Kashmir depicting items related to heritage and culture and it had collection of thousands of items. Masoodi was also affiliated with several literary organisation and won several awards in the field of women empowerment and education.

J&K Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti termed her as a noted educationist and heritage activist. “The relentless efforts put in by late Attiqa Bano to preserve the past heritage and culture of our society is noteworthy and worth emulating,” she said.

“She was an able administrator who always completed her assignments on time. I don’t think Kashmir will ever produce another lady of such caliber,” said Raja Nazar Boniyari, a prominent writer of Kashmir. “I worked under her when she was heading department of education and after her retirement remained in touch with her. She was always helpful and had special liking for Kashmir’s heritage.”

“One of her great contributions is setting up of Meeras Mehal, a museum, unique of its kind at Sopore depicting our heritage and culture,” said Showkat Shafi, deputy director, Directorate of Internal Quality Assurance, Kashmir University.

Masoodi’s death was widely condoled on social networking sites, Twitter and Facebook in which netizens paid rich tributes to her. “Will people believe it that she was a wonderful horse rider. l am witness to it when she was posted in far off areas,” wrote Naseem Lanker, a former bureaucrat.

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