SRINAGAR: The first South Asian reporter of Turkish official news agency, Anadolu Agency was a Kashmir origin Pathan, the news agency reported today. The revelation was part of a news story that the agency released in connection with the completion of its first 100 years of operations since Mustafa Kamal Ataturk founded it on April 6, 1920.
Identified as Abdur Rehman Peshawari, he belonged to a Baramulla based trader family that had migrated to Peshawar in the nineteenth century. The Peshwar born journalist had dropped out of the Aligarh Muslim University to join Turkish forces during the Balkan war.
“My grandfather had migrated from Baramulla,” Peshawari’s nephew Mohammad Saleem Jan told the agency in an interview. “He came here and stayed with his uncle. He started his business and did quite well and became a wealthy person in Peshawar. He had a large family, some of which gained prominent positions during his life. Among them was Lala Turkey. We also called him Chacha Turkey [Uncle Turkey] because we associated him with Turkey. He was very highly regarded in the family for his various achievements.”
Offering details of 1888 (or 1886) born Peshwari’s connection with Turkey, Jan has said that after schooling from the Edwards in Peshawar, the sportsman joined Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College (later AMU). From there, he joined a paramedic delegation and left for Turkey in 1912, to help wounded in the Balkan war.
Unlike the rest of the delegation, Peshwari stayed back and joined the Ottoman army. “He fought in Beirut and was part of the Gallipoli campaign during World War I,” Jan was quoted saying. “Due to his fluency in Pashto, Persian, and English, he was later appointed as ambassador of Turkey in Afghanistan from 1920 to 1922.” Besides, he also fought Turkey’s War of Independence alongside Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and was wounded thrice.
However, Peshwari was assassinated in Istanbul in 1925, as the Armenian’s mistook him as Rauf Orbay Bey, the first prime minister of post-independence Turkey. “As we heard that Armenian who probably wanted to kill Rauf Bey but they shot Abdur Rahman Peshawari, in his back, thinking he was the prime minister, because of the close resemblance. He was in the hospital for a month but succumbed to injuries,” Jan told the agency.
Peshwari never married and never returned home. “When he became the Turkish ambassador to Afghanistan, his father sent him again a message to come to Peshawar and visit the family. But he said he will not set foot on occupied India which was ruled by the British,” Jan said. “Then my grandfather and uncles went to Afghanistan, visited him and stayed with him for some time. His father again tried to persuade him to return. But he didn’t.”
Interestingly, the family has no records of Peshwarai of his 13 years in Turkey excepting a few photographs. “We were told that his medals, his uniform and his dairy which he used to write, all were handed over to one of my uncle Barrister Abdul Aziz because he was his brother,” Jan told the reporter Islamuddin Sajid. “But later they were confiscated by the British. And they are now with the British. I have made an appeal to governments of Pakistan and Turkey, that now it’s 100 years, they should try and get back that diary and other possessions.”