S.D. Rohmetra: Aman of Journalistic Vision
Dr. Vinit Utpal
S.D. Rohmetra is the name of the journalistic vision in Jammu Kashmir. He made a new way of journalism in the state and played a significant role in cultivating reporting, editing, and publishing the news. He had a dream to foster journalism during the early age of his life and he thought that newspapers are a medium to raise the voice of people. The goal of the publication of the newspaper was to strengthen the relationship between Jammu Kashmir and the rest of the country. He launched a weekly tabloid English daily five decades ago. On 1st January 1965, Excelsior was launched and in 1977 it became a daily newspaper this newspaper has the largest circulation in Jammu and Kashmir now. There is a long list of journalists across the country, who have either worked or written articles in Daily Excelsior.
Rohmetra's vision, comprehension of the complexity of politics, commitment to professional ethics, and admirable patriotic views and opinions changed the mood of the public in the state and the newspaper became very popular among the readers. Daily Excelsior is known for its easy language and its online edition also exists. It is said that the newspaper is maintaining a clear-cut policy of ‘no compromise on the sovereignty of the state.’ People of the state remembered him as soft-spoken, healthy relations with all political leaders as well as other persons of the state and outside the state. As Author Purian Cox mentioned in his book ‘Faith-Based Diplomacy: The Work of Prophets “…Two other meetings were with S.D. Rohmetra and Ved Bhasin, are well-known and respected senior journalists in Kashmir. S.D. Rohmetra invited me to write a series of opinion/editorial columns for the Daily Excelsior.”
S.D. Rohmetra was born in village Mulla Chak in R.S. Pura area near India-Pakistan International Border. He attended Model Academy, Jammu for his early education and St. Xavier's College in Kolkata for his later education. Initially, he was running a shop as well as publishing a tabloid. R.D. Rohmetra also joined United News of India (UNI) and in1969, he became the Bureau Chief of Jammu Kashmir. Several times, He was a part of the press team that traveled abroad with the Indian prime minister. He was associated with the agency till 1993. Rohmetra traveled to several countries such as Hague, Russia, the UK, and the US throughout his career.
Daily Excelsior has carved out a sizable niche for itself among its readers due to its thorough investigative reporting and chic visual format. A few years ago, Kamal Rohmetra remembered his father’s vision of total emotional integration with India, defending the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, promoting the inflow of talent and industry into the State from the rest of the country, strengthening communal harmony in the State and providing full support to the state infighting and defeating cross-border infiltration of terrorists. Despite a serious threat to his life, S.D. Rohmetra functioned effectively to publish the newspaper.
Kamal and Neeraj wrote once that from 12 to 14 pages, the Daily Excelsior has grown to 16 to 20 pages. Its circulation has also gone up manifold and encompasses a variety of aspects of social life. They mentioned that the inspiration received from the roadmap left behind by S.D.Rohmetra. He did not limit himself as a journalist to routine news reporting or routine event commentary. By incorporating the vision, keen insight, and a determination to serve society into his journalistic philosophy, he put the “Fourth Estate" concept of the press into effect. He has a deep understanding of the nuances of J&K politics based on which all kinds of governments in power at the Centre, notwithstanding their affiliations or parameters of the coalition, invariably solicited his sane, balanced, and mature opinion on a variety of issues related to the State.
Hence, S.D. Rohmetra knows the pulse of the citizens of Jammu Kashmir as well as India. In the time of terrorism, he frequently published his newspaper in the state and stood behind the fourth pillar of democracy. His small plant as Daily Excelsior now became a big tree and real journalism flourished among the public. His dream was associated with the public and his sons are also working hard to fulfill his dream through the Daily Excelsior newspaper. He died on 5th July 2012 in Delhi.