Of Girl Student Leaders
‘Our poets are coldhearted.’ This sentenced bothered me at a seminar, when a poet masquerading his insensitiveness towards sufferings of people sought refuge under couplets of four great Eastern poets…. Our poets never ever sang a song for the women who fought for a cause, faced batons and bayonets, braved the brute forces, chased away the cavalries, snatched their chicks from claws of ‘hawks’ and sacrificed their lives for a better tomorrow for the generations to come. I wondered, if we could ever have a writer like Davi Walders to write a book like “Women against Tyranny: Poems of Resistance…..” to tell stories about our women who braved trepidation, terror and tyranny.
Looking for an answer, why our poets never sang songs about our real “brave-hearts” that fought along men against demonic despots, I remembered pictures cut from old magazines pasted or pinned on walls of a grocer’s shop in our Mohalla. Like pages of history, these pictures narrated to me stories of the immediate past- stories that would not find a mention even in footnotes of our history. Picture of bespectacled, Sheikh Abdullah in an open jeep with a mace in hand with women draped in long pherans touching their knees and scarves flowing over their backs covering their braids carrying banners, with mouths wide open and arms raised in air told stories of women in rebellion. The picture of some Kashmiri women in pherans with girdles tied around their waist - robust women who were political volunteers attracted my attention the most. Two or three women volunteers in the picture, I often spotted managing women at Astana of Makdoom Sahib on Thursdays and annual Urs. One, in the picture was a familiar figure, she had joined the freedom movement in 1931, was divorced by her husband, disowned by her parents, lost her only son in police shoot out and put in prison nine times—I had heard her story on a shop front…I think she died alone and unsung.
It was during the holy relic movement that for the first time, I physically saw women volunteers leading massive processions. The faces of some of the women volunteers even today roll before my eyes like pictures inside a bioscope. The frenzy image of Saja a devotee of Mirwaiz Yusuf Sahib with her black burqa flying in air like a superman’s cape raising full throat slogans still live in my memory.
The 1964, holy relic movement as I wrote in this column baptized a whole generation of students in politics. It was not only boys that joined, girls also partook in the procession. Many girl students along with boys were thrown up to the centre stages of Kashmir politics. Some girl students for their eloquence made thousand to listen with rapt attention. I remember, a girl student from the Women’s College with a melodious voice singing patriotic songs at the start of a students’ rally. Names of some of the leading girl student leaders that still live in the hinterland – (I may not mention them here). More than their parents the girl students were made to suffer at the hands of their teachers in the college for participating in protest rallies. I still remember, some girl students narrating their woeful tales about their principal grappling their locks and plaits and dragging them on the lawns of the college. The 1964 students’ movement of Kashmir by all imagination could be compared to the students’ movement led by Cohen Bendit at the same time in France.
Those were the times, when Kashmir was almost daily debated in the United Nations Security Council. The speech made by Bhutto in UN Security Council on February 3 had endeared him to students. Most of the dates have faded off the memory. However, some have left an indelible imprint on mind. I remember, on March 19, 1964, when UN Security Council was meeting again to discuss Kashmir students from all colleges and university marched towards the United Nations Office at Sonawar to present a memorandum to General Nimmo as all students remembered his name. ( Lieutenant General Robert Harold Nimmo was Chief Military Observer in Kashmir with the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan.) Hundreds of girls partook in this procession. I have vivid impression about some girls pleading before the Australian General to ensure the delivery of the memorandum in UN on the same night and ensuring its broadcast from BBC. Kashmiri Hindu student, whose father was ardent supporter of the Plebiscite Front presented the memorandum to Nimmo. On 13th July 1964, students took a procession from Partap Park to Martyrs graveyard. Many girls were singing patriotic songs atop the bus bedecked by flowers and somewhere raising slogans along with the boys…
Lastupdate on : Sat, 5 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 5 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 6 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST
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