RAWALPINDI: Dennys Higher Secondary School situated on Kashmir Road is a physical representation of Muslim, Hindu, Christian, and Sikh heritage and intelligentsia of the subcontinent.
The institution’s rich history of over ‘136’ years, notwithstanding, the school is in a derelict state facing a dearth of funds to bring it back its old grandeur.
Originally established back in 1881 by employees of Military Accounts Office who formed the school in Calcutta House Saddar for their children.
In 1891, it was shifted to a bungalow on Adamjee Road and was named in honour of the English Station Commander CD Denny, who extended his full patronage to the school.
Established by Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Christians it was termed a school of four collective nations.
Admissions were opened when the student body strength increased, which led to the construction of the present building.
To raise funds a committee was set up under the supervision of Seth Mamun Jee, Hakim Jee and Chatter Jee.
Even after the school shifted to its current premises in 1899, the old building still holds its splendour as a masterpiece of Mughal architecture.
The school itself has stellar alumni which include former Chief of army Staff Yousaf Khan, former Chief Election Commissioner Qazi Farooq and former Governor General Raja Saroop.
In 1909, the educational institute plunged into uncertainty with Danies death which drove the school to be sold to Seth Khalisa Dewan, who was a Sikh.
The influential Muslim leaders objected to the sale which led to the cancellation of the agreement.
The Muslim and Hindu community once again began their campaign to collect funds for the school and by the end of the year, they had achieved their goal.
Until partition, all the headmasters of the institution remained Hindus, while its patrons were Muslim seths.
Sheikh Muhammad Ishaq served as the headmaster for over 28 years who was also conferred with a special award by then President of Pakistan Ziaul Haq.
Apart from its scholastic contributions, the school also has produced several kabaddi, hockey and volleyball champions.
All of its teachers since partition were honoured which include
Lala Nath, Lala Diwan Chand, Moti Singh, Lala Anoop, Sheikh Mumtaz, Malik Misri Khan and Sheikh Muhammad Ishaq
Despite its past glory, the school faces a financial crisis with dilapidated walls and roofs as well as a shortage of teachers.
The situation has been compounded as there is no shelter from rain or the sun for the students and teachers. It is located at the epicentre of the garrison city.
Sikhs always come to the school to show their children a part of their history.
According to the school’s administration, elderly Sikhs begin to cry when they see the school in disrepair.
Bilbeer Singh, a visitor said that he brought his family to the school hoping it would have been transformed into a university by now, however, the sad state of the school brought tears to his eyes.
(TRANSLATION BY ARSHAD SHAHEEN)
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2017.