The Tribune : 125 years of trust

The Tribune, now published from Chandigarh, started publication on February 2, 1881, in Lahore (now in Pakistan). It was started by Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia, a public-spirited philanthropist, and is run by a trust comprising five eminent persons as trustees.

The shock of the terrible disruption and of the heavy losses to the institution during the 1947 Partition was great but The Tribune managed to overcome it by taking its eyes away from the past and fixing them on the future.

Where was The Tribune to be revived and re-established? The call of Delhi, from where most of Lahore’s popular Urdu dailies had been restarted, seemed irresistible. The requisite printing facilities were available there and additional equipment could be obtained without much difficulty. Delhi could also provide certain amenities to the staff to which they had been accustomed at Lahore. Besides, lakhs of Punjabi refugees had settled there. But the basic question was: would it be possible to serve the interests of Punjab from a place outside its boundaries, even though it be the country’s capital?

Production of a daily newspaper of the size and status of The Tribune in the midst of the prevailing chaos seemed impossible. But the sagacity and foresight of the Trustees did not fail them in the crisis. They decided that since the paper belonged to Punjab and had been started by the founder to serve the northern region, it should remain in the State and serve its people as before.

A thorough search was then made for a suitable printing press. From Kangra to Karnal and even beyond up to Delhi there was no press with sufficient equipment for producing anything like a daily newspaper. Simla had a small press near the Ridge, known as Liddell’s, which had a monotype composing machine along with other facilities and could serve the immediate purpose in view, even though inadequately.

No time was lost in acquiring the press. Through the good offices of the Punjab Government and the cooperation of certain highly placed well-wishers, arrangements to bring out the newspaper from Simla were completed in a few days. “Bantony” — a large bungalow off the Mall — was made available by the local authorities for the office and also for providing accommodation to several members of the staff, who shared the three first-floor rooms.

A common, subsidised mess was run on the premises; most of the time the food comprised potatoes and chapattis, variety being out of the question in those abnormal times.

The editorial, managerial and press staff had scattered in various parts of the truncated state, but on getting information that the newspaper was to be started from Simla, they managed to reach the town. Many of them, including the two Assistant Editors and most of the Sub-Editors, had to undertake risky journeys by such road and rail services as were available in those days, to reach their posts of duty.

Some essential stores were taken from the plains to Simla despite the formidable transport difficulties. There were impediments at almost every step, but the devotion and determination of a small band of workers overcame them. As a result of the ceaseless efforts of the team — all of them putting in long hours of work at the office and in the press — the paper was able to resume publication from Simla on September 25, 1947, barely 40 days after leaving Lahore.

Rana Jang Bahadur Singh was the Acting Editor at Shimla until the end of February, 1948. J. Nataranjan was appointed Editor with effect from February 28 of that year.

In view of the disturbed conditions prevailing in most Punjab towns in the immediate post-partition period, the Trustees selected Ambala Cantonment, a centrally situated and convenient railway junction; for establishing The Tribune office and the press. A few weeks later The Tribune establishment made a second migration, this time within the East Punjab region, from Simla to Ambala Cantonment.

On May 12, 1948, the paper started publication from the new centres, without a break the previous day’s issue having been brought out from Simla.The Tribune , after Independence shifted from Lahore and its two-page issue came out from Shimla on September 25, 1947. The number of its pages increased to six and then to eight by the end of January, 1948. Its editor then was Rana Jung Bahadur. After him, J. Natarajan took over. This newspaper shifted to Ambala Cantonment and finally to Chandigarh.

The Tribune, the largest selling daily in North India, publishes news and views without any bias or prejudice of any kind. Restraint and moderation, rather than agitational language and partisanship, are the hallmarks of the paper. It is an independent newspaper in the real sense of the term.

The English edition apart, the 128-year-old Tribune has two sister publications, Punjabi Tribune (in Punjabi) and Dainik Tribune (in Hindi).

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