PESHAWAR: Basant Chadha, who migrated from Peshawar, passed away in Jabalpur India the other day of natural causes. He was 92.

Mr Chadha was associated with Jabalpur’s famous Jacksons Hotel. He was one of 10 siblings of whom three sisters and a brother are alive. His wife had passed away in 1994.

He is survived by a daughter Shobha Puri and son Anil Chadha. His eldest son Sunil passed away in 2018. He also left behind three grandsons and two granddaughters to mourn him.

Born in Peshawar on Oct 18, 1928, his father Gulab Rai Chadha owned a store on Arbab Road, Peshawar. “Gulab Rai & Sons” was a wines provision and general merchants firm. The shop carried on until 1948 before the family migrated to India after partition.

Even in advanced age, Mr Basant was mentally alert and remained active on Peshawari forums on internet. His email exchanges with Dr Ali Jan a local historian, shared by the latter give an interesting glimpse in life here before 1947.

According to late Basant Chadha, his father started his career with Lipton Tea Co and Imperial Tobacco Co, from which he resigned in 1928 and started the store. Gulab Rai & Sons stood on former Sant Ram Marwah’s four-shop property. From L-R, first two shops were occupied by Gulab Rai. In the third shop was located Godin & Co. Pianos and Records, and the last one was Pioneer Sports owned by Pritham Singh. It later became Alig Café.

Gulab Rai’s own house was at 32 The Mall (presently Sattagadai plaza)

“I have fond memories of childhood. I attended Salwan School and spent my summers in Murree and Cherat,” wrote Mr Basant in one of his emails.

“We had a branch of Gulab Rai & Sons in Cherat with two residences behind it. Godins also had a branch there. Going towards the bazaar from the insignias the first block of shops housed Godin shop then a space with a big tree on which we used to play next to that was our badminton court and further was our shop, Gulab Rai & Sons in front of a pond. Nearby was a thana from where we used to phone to Peshawar.”

“In Murree, my uncles had a shop too on The Mall just above Lansdowne cinema and skating rink near GPO, they had a house further up where I stayed. Once a new film (Zeenat) was to be shown, the film did not reach till 2am, I waited with the crowd even though I was leaving the next day and watched the film till it finished at 5am.”

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2021

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