On June 24, 1924, the first regular issue of the weekly Urdu newspaper “Ranbir” was published in Jammu and Kashmir. This marked the beginning of journalism in the region, thanks to Lala Mulk Raj Saraf, who later became known as the Father of Journalism in Jammu and Kashmir.
Saraf was inspired by the powerful personality of Lala Lajpat Rai, whom he worked with at the famous daily newspaper Vande Matram. He was reminded of the helplessness of the people in his own state, where there was not even a single newspaper. After much discussion with his friends and elders, he applied to His Highness Maharaja Pratap Singh for permission to start a weekly newspaper and set up a printing press in Jammu. However, his application was rejected several times before finally being accepted in March 1924.
The newspaper was named “Ranbir” after Maharaja Ranbir Singh, and it made its debut on June 24, 1924. During the civil disobedience movement led by Mahatma Gandhi in British India, “Ranbir” reported on the unprecedented hartal and the biggest demonstration in the history of Jammu, resulting in a ban on its publication.
Saraf started another newspaper called “Amar” from Lahore and then another called “Mashir” until “Ranbir” was permitted to reappear after more than 18 months on November 13, 1931. In December 1934, Saraf brought out the first monthly magazine for children called “Rattan,” which soon became one of the three best-edited magazines in the country. Today, the torchbearers of journalism in Jammu and Kashmir are grateful to Lala Mulk Raj Saraf, whose passion for a free press and belief in freedom of expression has taken media to new horizons in the region.