A Momand Grass Cutter, Jamrud Fort Landi Kotal Fort, Khyber Pass
Islamia College, in the way of Jamrud Mahajirins going to Kabul Peshawar City
  Mela Ram was among a small group of Peshawar-based photographers (others include the two Holmes and K.C. Mehra) whose postcards are among the rare visual documents of the Northwest Frontier Province or NWFP, during the Raj.

For example, among this handful of postcards is one of the Hijrat [Flight] Movement to Afghanistan, which peaked in August 1920. There are almost no photographs of those times surviving. Thousands of Mohajirins [Exiles] from Frontier and Punjab willingly became refugees from British rule and fled to Afghanistan that summer. After selling all their possessions, they migrated under the leadership of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan to Kabul.

They were to return, disillusioned, a few months later. Nonetheless, it was an important moment in the Khilafat and Gandhi's First Non-Cooperation Movement. Mela Ram's war photographs of the British military campaigns in the Frontier during the 1920s and 1930s shown here are also rare images. Jamrud Fort outside Peshawar was the staging area for continuous "little" wars that reached all around the province and its border with Afghanistan at Landikotal for a century.

The postcard of Islamia College is likely from its inauguration in 1913.


© Harappa 2001