‘NEELOBAT’ in Shina means blue, bluish or turquoise-colored stone which in the instant case, is attributed to signify an historic stone weighing about two and a half maund. It is related that it lay at the ‘neelo rako’ – blue or bluish palace of the local rulers (Rajas) - showing its locus where the Kote Mohella in Gilgit city stands presently. Very interestingly, ‘taimuri vlog’ dated 17 April 2022, so aptly disseminated a brief talk with Haji Muhammad Shafa of Danyore Shangote - a credible person possessing ample knowledge on history, customs and traditions of the area. Generally speaking, Shafa is social worker of repute who has devoted his prime life to welfare of society. Born in lower Bagrote, he later shifted to and settled permanently at Danyore some six decades back on his retirement from military service. However, he was re-employed in the Education Department as a ‘Physical Instructor’ obviously against the quota reserved for ex-servicemen. After completing his term in the latter, he exited and now perennially devotes his services to community development in general with a particular focus on conservation of flora and fauna in the area being his great passion. In the instant case, he has brought out an a crucial information so significant out to the pasts of Gilgit region historically. Referring to the primitive society of this region, he talks about “Satmaskeh” – a nomenclature to define the Gilgit (Geleet) of olden eras. As to its boundaries, he enumerates: The Maskeh, to him, consisted of the area: one, Sai, two Haramosh, three Bagrote, four Danyore Jotel, five Nomal-Naltar, six Minwar to Basin, seven, Shikyote, Sharpte and Bargo. What is all the interesting is his unfolding the facts associated with the suffix ‘Cheh’ attached to the names of four passages around Gilgit leading to the adjoining areas id est toward Baltistan, Chilas, Hunza-Nagar and Ghizr. The names places of all the four passages or outlets to him, end with cheh,cheh,cheh and cheh respectively. Thus the boundaries of Satmaskeh are marked by ‘Cheh’. For instance, the boundary on the Hunza-Nagir side ends at Govacheh, that towards Chilas ended at Thalecheh. Likewise, the boundary with Ghizar ended at Biarcheh – a place near Gulapure while the boundary with Baltistan ended at Bulacheh situated opposite Haramosh. Emphasizing, Haji Shaha says all these four boundary-marks define the Satmaskeh id est the olden Geleet. As to the capital of Satmaskeh, he says Danoyore too, sometimes remained as the central place (capital) at the vast garden of Wazir Ghulam Haider. As to the perennial capital of Satmaskeh (Sargin Gellet) he emphasizes that it was located at the turquoise-colored palace ( Neelo Rako) of the local rulers (Rajas) then situated at what is now called the Kote Mohellah in Gilgit. It is here lay a bluish or turquoise-colored stone ‘Neelobat’ in the vernacular, weighing about two and a half maund which literally sealed all the pronouncements made in that the notables of Satmaski would frequently gather at this place to mull their schemes be it in the matter of enforcement of new customs or setting traditions, making a decision as to any dispute resolution etc. In short all the pronouncements made and the unanimous decisions taken at ‘Neelo Rako’ were got announced from the ‘Neelo Bat’ for the compliance of the citizenry and pronouncement emanating from this place were called “Neelobatae Faisala” – the decision of the turquoise-colored stone – each decision announced by someone perched on the bluish stone (neelo-bat) was to be taken as a fait accompli unquestionably binding on all. The stone Haji Shafa says, is still lying uncared and unattended, near the verandah of Public Library Gilgit weighs about two and a half maund and dates back to times immemorial, long before Islam spread here. The times of Neelobat-decisions bespoke of a period when there was no institution of judiciary whatsoever and matters used to be handled in a queer manner. The stone is said to have a book-like form dimensionally. He laments the gross insensitivity as to the fitting preservation of this historical heritage of this area dating back to thousands of years whilst appealing to the authorities for taking appropriate steps as to its preservation with a brief introductory history attached to it before it perishes. In a FB post dated 28.04.2020, Zubair Shariff Qazi copies from the Wall of Bilal Khan, Gilgit, that the historic Sargin Geleet administratively and demographically called “Satmasko Geleet”. It draws a reference to the renowned anthropologist/archeologist A.H Dani having written in reference to ‘Shah Rais Khan’s History of Gilgit that Gilgit after its dismemberment from Chitral, administrative formed seven distinct areas each of them called “Maskoh”. Thus Gilgit came to be called ‘Sat Maskoh’ or Sat Maskoh State comprising as follows: Maskoh one included the area between Minapin to Nomal. Masko two is called by the local people as “Jagao Maskoh” (pother people’s maskoh), Maskoh three comporised the area in bwtween Bagrote and Haramosh, Maskoh four consisted of Mouza Sai and Mouza Bunji, Maskoh five extended from Goharabad to Chilas, Maskoh six included Darel and the last Maskoh was that of Tangir. In such a scenario, it was the responsibility of the people of all these Maskohs to ensure the defence of the Gilgit Fort unitedly. But nonetheless, there appears a glaring difference opinion between above narratives referred to in the above where the former claim constricts the area of Satmaskeh to that falling within four outlets id est the boundary on the Hunza-Nagir side ends at Govacheh, that towards Chilas ended at Thalecheh. Likewise, the boundary with Ghizar ended at Biarcheh – a place near Gulapure while the boundary with Baltistan ended at Bulacheh situated opposite Haramosh, whilst the second statement emanating from Zubair Shariff Qazi’s post under reference tending to expand the territorial limits of Sargin Geleet as far as Darel/Tangir in the south while its northern boundary is claimed to end at Minapin in Nagar. Given this, an assiduous research still needs to be undertaken to get to the accurate historical background and to arrive at just conclusion for giving a correct historical perspective. But, nonetheless, the matter of preserving the ‘neelobat’ which reportedly lying uncared and unattended at within the compounds of Public Library Gilgit needs immediate steps for its preservation in a befitting manner as necessitaed in cases of historical heritage. This is deemed necessary in seeing that ancient history of Sargin Geleet is associated with it and hence the same cannot and should not be handled to be wasted so carelessly.
By Syed Shamsuddin THERE CAN BE no gainsaying the fact that in the present era, horrific demographic phenomena are being witnessed all across what is called the Developing World. Pakistan being one of them, is experiencing a litany of very complex and exasperating situations as the direct outcome of and stemming from unplanned urbanization which have overtime, kept exacerbating as populations kept surging with ferocity and concentration humans taking place so haphazardly, sans proper and effective urban planning. This eventual hodge-podge urbanism without any careful planning oft-results into dire situations in all localities shorn of adequate open spaces, public parks, direly needed green belts, sidewalks - posing great dangers to health of the respective communities, Gilgit city being a classic example in Gilgit-Baltistan. Admittedly, those living in an environment offering qualitatively better conditions discernibly have a better outlook in juxtaposition to those inhabiting plac