Where We Rowdies?
Decades on, the question bothers me still
NOSTALGIA BY ZGM
It is an old story. Students at different junctures of our recent history have been an important part of state’s political landscape. In school days I often heard story about Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah picking up a Kashmir student Khurshid Hassan Khurshid as his Secretary after he heard him speaking in the Muslim Park- a hardly few hundred meters from my school. It made us proud.
I often heard stories in school days from a teacher using Tabish as nom-deplume about the role students of our school- Islamia High School had played in organizing a reception for “Jinnah Sahib” during his visit to Kashmir. It was much later I learnt ‘Tabish Sahib” like Pitamber Nath Dhar Fani another prominent teacher in our school had leftist leanings. Our part of city- now nicknamed “down-town” had been epicenter of student politics. A few teachers were nostalgic about the activities of Kashmir Student’s Federation which was in 1942 renamed as Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Students Federation. Some often heard names in school days are yet to fade from my memory. These are Ahmed-ullah- Niaz, K.H. Khurshid, Sanullah Shameem, Ali Muhammad Daril, Mir Abdul Aziz, Abdul Gani Rentoo, Ahmed Shameem, Habibullah Kakroo and Raja Akram Khan. National Students Federation had been another student organization in the vanguard but none of our teachers in school mentioned about it. Syed Mir Qasim in his autobiography make a mention of forming a student organization ‘Muslim Bloc’ with Agha Ashraf as its president and him as it General Secretary against the removal of great educationist Dr. M. D. Taseer as principal of S.P. College under pressure from non-Muslim teachers, who had instigated the Hindu students in the college.
From my teachers, I did not hear much about student politics after 1948 and onwards. Perhaps there was no such activity and like other dissenting voices their voice also had been throttled. But, when I joined college after the 1964 Holy Relic movement politics had become dominant part of the academic landscape. The student organizations multiplied as militant outfits mushroomed in early nineties. It is a different story despite politicization over sixty percent of sciences students from our college made to the professional colleges. And finally they made to top in their professions.
The student politics like a phantom shadowed us to the University Campus. It spoilt many of our ‘Keats-days’. Even after we were ‘evacuated’ from salubrious surroundings by a fleet of buses and brought to the busiest part of the city it chased us like a wasp on touching a rose. And after 4 PM , our regular haunt was mezzanine floor of a restaurant named Flora near Palladium Cinema. Besides being a vantage point for watching Lal Chowk in all its shades and colors, it was student-affordable eating place. The lip-smacking mutton steaks for which one of my friends had terrifying appetite and pot of tea- that was filled and refilled free by the waiters cost us only a few rupee. These were going Dutch days- and during our long sessions in the restaurant we often discussed the flagging movement for plebiscite, Sheikh’s parleys with New Delhi, campus politics… and sometimes ‘after-education-future’ worries punctured our idealisms. Most of the boys in our group were from the lower middle class families with no access to the corridors of power. The rebel inside us was yet to learn the art of compromise- and we strongly believed in ‘corkscrewing’ our rights.
The post 1971-emerging political scenario had pushed the ‘sarkar’ in a quandary- instead of facing the challenges it had chosen digging its neck in sand. ‘Postponing to the extent of no examination’ at graduation and post-graduation was seen answer to growing unemployment problem. Instead of two years it took four to five years for completion of post graduation in Kashmir University while the boys in Jammu and Aligarh Universities completed same courses within two years. Some of our friends who had gone to pursue their education in Aligarh and Delhi Universities had completed post-graduation when we were yet to appear for first year examinations.
Sipping tea one day in the Flora restaurant, I don’t remember who got the brain wave of protesting against the examination policy of the University. The University was those days headed by a retired bureaucrat from Delhi, R. A. Chisti. He was a pliable person- and for his last posting in Government of India and malleability he was nicknamed as “Khanada” (sugary) V.C.
Suave, soft-spoken and non-bureaucratic Abdul Aziz was the Dean Students Welfare- the quality of the man was that he would never lose his calm and composure despite gravest provocation by the students. Next morning we called on Dean Students Welfare in his office…he heard our story with great concern but seemed helpless to see our demand through.
I remember after meeting with the Dean we were able to convince some more activist boys for protesting against the examination system. Someone in the meeting came up with novel idea of demanding ‘promotion to next class without examination. Kashmiris known for coining slogans at the spur of the moment- a friend in the group cried, “ We want D.P.’ (D.P standing Direct promotion) and ‘Our Demand D.P’, he was satirical in inventing this slogan as the slogan “We want Plebiscite” and “Our Demand Plebiscite” raised by Plebiscite Front had died down. But the new slogan caught fancy of students and next day students organized a sit-in outside the administrative block of the University. Boys and girl raised full throat slogans- “We want D.P, Our Demand D. P”. Sit-ins continued for a couple of days. And the day the Vice Chancellor called the meeting of all the heads of departments the peace-full sit-ins took an ugly turn with students ‘gheroining’ the Vice Chancellors room. One boy put a lock on the room with V.C. and teachers inside. Only two teachers for their health were allowed to go…it was the ugliest scene.
It took yet another ugly turn when some students on the instigation of the then Deputy Minister Education attacked some active students and the pandemonium continued till night. It was about twelve in night when a police party arrived in the University and bundled some sixty students in police Lorries and kept them in police lock ups and some were sent to Srinagar Central Jail… but no case was registered.
The story made screaming headlines in New Delhi newspapers- some correspondents had attributed the happenings in the University to the PF leadership…Sheikh Abdullah reacted to it, addressing a public meeting he called students rowdies and asked them to mend their ways, otherwise his workers will teach them a listen.
Sheikh’s threatening mellowed down the students- all boys were released with University announcing changing its examination pattern….there is more to it…
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Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Jan 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Jan 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 9 Jan 2011 00:00:00 IST
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