July 31, 1988: When ‘first action’ by militants put spotlight on Kashmir
Armed Struggle Turns 24 Today
Srinagar, July 30: On July 31 twenty four-years ago, twin blasts rocked Kashmir marking the “beginning of armed resistance” in the region.
According to the observers, this was the first such incident in Jammu and Kashmir that “jolted the establishment and attracted attention of international community towards the long-pending issue.”
They say the blasts on July 31, 1988, reportedly carried out by the activists of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), symbolized the “sudden outburst of dissent against many years of injustice and violations in J&K.”
“Before that people were unaware that dozens of Kashmiri youth have crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and have returned with armed training. There was a sudden shift, the people who were running the non-violent movement before joined the armed movement just to highlight their plight in the hands of New Delhi,” says the Chairman JKLF Muhammad Yasin Malik, who was on the forefront of the fresh struggle that had begun.
After blasts, one at Central Telegraph Office and another near Golf Club, a number of militancy related incidents shook the Valley, famous among which was attack on the house of then DIG Kashmir range, Ali Muhammad Watali, at posh Rajbagh locality here.
On the intervening night of September 17 and 18, 1988, some militants attacked Watali’s residence and in the retaliatory action, Aijaz Dar, one of the founder members of pro-independence JKLF was killed. Dar’s killing and recovery of an automatic weapon from the encounter site, according to observers, created ripples in corridors of power.
Recalling the events of late ‘80s, Malik says, “Kashmiris never believed in violence and by nature are peace-lovers. From 1931 to 1947 and 1953-1988, Kashmiris used all means of non-violence to achieve their rights. But it was unfortunate that the state that accepts Mahatma Gandhi as father of the nation didn’t provide us a little space for non-violent movement.”
“In 1984, as students we started our political activities. Our group those days was called as ‘taleh party’. We formed map of independent Kashmir in 1985 for which my 11 colleagues and I were sent to jail. We were meted with third degree torture in interrogation center. After our release, in 1986, we formed the Islamic Students League (ISL),” Malik recalls.
Soon afterwards Muslim United Front (MUF) came into existence and ISL became one of its constituents. Malik represented ISL in the MUF.
“In December 1986, MUF at its executive committee meeting decided to participate in the elections. MUF also decided that if voted to power, it would bring a resolution in the Assembly for right to self-determination for the people of J&K. We had cautioned MUF leadership that New Delhi would never allow them to win,” Malik said.
However, Malik said, the ISL activists decided to help the MUF in elections. Prominent among MUF candidates in 1987 elections included Syed Ali Geelani and Muhammad Yusuf Shah, who later came to be known as Syed Salah-ud-Din after joining militant ranks.
In Assembly elections held in March 1987, MUF could win only four seats out of 87. The elections were allegedly rigged and immediately after the announcement of results hundreds of MUF activists were arrested which included Malik, Shaheed Ashfaq Majeed Wani, Shaheed Sheikh Abdul Hameed and Javed Ahmad Mir.
“We were booked under Public Safety Act. I was deliberately provided poisonous food in the jail due to which I lost one heart valve. After our release in November 1987 on court orders, we decided that there is no space for non-violent movement in Kashmir,” Malik recalls.
“We contacted JKLF leadership in AJK and our first group crossed LoC in February 1988. Shaheed Sheikh Hameed led the first group, while me, Javed and Ashfaq crossed over in June,” he added.
After coming back from AJK, JKLF reportedly carried series of attacks on central government institutions and CTO blast was part of that.
“We had heard about Palestine and Ireland freedom movements and it became inspiration for us,” Malik added.
Subsequent years saw thousands of Kashmiri youth joining the ranks of militancy and in early 1990 lakhs came on streets demanding freedom.
But Malik says that international community did not play the role they should have. “International diplomats met us after the popular uprising and assured that Kashmir would be settled according to the aspirations of its people with the intervention of the US government. We told them that we don’t support bloodshed, but to gain the world attention, we took up arms,” JKLF Chairman said. “But overall they lacked commitment.”
Malik admits that gun played its role in highlighting the Kashmir issue. “We lost almost all our friends. Ashfaq, Hameed, Maqbool Illahi, Ashraf Dar and Hilal Beig were some of our friends who were martyred.”
Malik says that despite announcing unilateral ceasefire in 1994, six hundred of his colleagues were killed since then. “We announced unilateral ceasefire despite several pulls and pressures as our aim was to convey that it was peoples’ movement and not a sponsored one. But New Delhi is pushing the people of the state for another 1990-like revolution by keeping the K-issue lingering,” he warns.
Malik said that JKLF is thinking to launch a state-wide campaign like that of Signature Campaign of 2003 and Safar-e-Azadi in 2007. “Such movements have an important role. It popularizes the mass movement and protests like we witnessed in 2008 and 2010,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 30 Jul 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 30 Jul 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 31 Jul 2012 00:00:00 IST
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