13 July: Allama's Angst and Actions

For Sir Mohammed Iqbal, 13 July 1931, when the people of Kashmir rebelled openly against the autocratic rule, was a momentous day. The July carnage in which 22 Kashmiris were gunned down by Dogra forces wounded his heart badly, but strengthened is engagement with Kashmir. When the new chapter of Kashmiri revolution was watered by the blood of Kashmiris, Iqbal again seemed anxious to come to Kashmir, a  cause  so dear to the poet and philosopher the he never missed an opportunity to talk about Kashmir.

A month after the massacre, Iqbal was instrumental in organizing Kashmir Day on 14 August, 1931. Presiding over a mammoth meeting of around 5000 people held at MochiDarwaza Lahore, Iqbal said, “If Maharaja of Kashmir continues his atrocities on the innocent and unarmed Kashmiris the day is not too far when the autocratic governance in Kashmir will meet its destruction. Today God has caused heat and passion in the blood of Muslims to face the falsehood. We called Kashmiris as timid but these very timid people have taken bullets of an oppressor Government on their chests. We want justice and the Muslims of Kashmir should be given their rights.”

After the July carnage, Iqbal not only helped in raising funds for oppressed Kashmiris, but also persuaded some of the prominent lawyers to visit Kashmir and provide legal aid to those who are languishing in jails. Allama Iqbal reached out to many prominent people including the Nawab of Hyderabad, Deccan for financial help. However, the state of Kashmir banned the entry of these lawyers. Iqbal too was not allowed to enter Kashmir;  a ban that nagged him for the rest of his life.  However, he continued to work for Kashmir and it was because of the efforts of Iqbal that the British Indian Government conducted an investigation into the July 1931 massacre following which the Glancy Commission was formed.

Even earlier he was involvement in sensitizing the British to the plight of Muslims in Kashmir, The memorandum which was presented to the Viceroy of India by the Kashmiris Muslims in 1925, was prepared on the advice of Iqbal.

He did his best to encourage the youth of Kashmir to get education. In Kashmir Magazine Iqbal published an article titled “Scholarship to Kashmiri Students” in which he lamented that the youth of Kashmir were not interested in education and training. The article reads as “Anjuman Kashmiri Muslims” in Lahore have arranged for the Muslims of Kashmir valley to study at Aligrah Muslim University and Islamia College Lahore with eight stipends of Rs. 10 per month and one stipend of Rs. 20 per month.

On July 5, 1933 Iqbal sent a letter to the Viceroy of India expressing concern over deteriorating situation in Kashmir and urged the Dogra government to refrain from coercion. The situation in Kashmir has caused great unrest among Muslim of British India and there are fears that there will be more complications, the statement said, “All India Kashmir Committee expects that Dogra Government in Kashmir to refrain from firing, baton charges and arrests in these circumstances.

 The works of Allama Iqbal clearly reflected his emotional attachment to Kashmir and its repressed masses. The miserable condition of Kashmir impacted Iqbal’s work to a great extent which is clearly visible from his literary and political speeches. When he visited Kashmir for the first time in June 1921, he saw smoke and fire coming out of the darkened Chinar trees in Nishat garden. In Lolab valley, he observed that the fresh and lively graveyards were deserted. His heart thumped after looking at the Kashmiris plight and hardships. He was supposed to be here only for attending legal issues, but after staying for about two weeks his heart melted over his ancestral nation’s miseries. In those times Kashmir was overwhelmed by different issues. He did not see anything else than dark, miserable times for Kashmir. After witnessing such a state of affairs Iqbal prayed;

ازاںمےفشاںقطرہبرکشیری

کہخاکسترشآفریندشرارے

(O butler! So a drop of this wine fell on the heart of Kashmiri,

From which sparks are created from its wet soil (insensitive soul).

Allama Iqbal has described the condition of Kashmiris in his “SaqiNama”, the poem he wrote in Nishat garden during his stay in Kashmir in 1921. DrMumtaz Hassan, a political activist writes that one day when he was sitting in the company of Allama Iqbal and discussing Kashmir’s political situation, the poet mentioned about a Persian poem ‘SaqiNama’. In one of the verses, he had mentioned that he is amazed that the Kashmiri political struggle started with rebellion by workers of silk factory in 1924.

In JavedNamah, Allama Iqbal addressing the League of Nations while lamenting on the treaty of Amritsar (16 March 1846)

Baad-e-Sabah Agar Ba Geneva GuzarKuni

HurfiZw Ma Ba MajlisAqwaamBaazgo

Dehkaan-o-Kasht-o- Joyo KhayabanFarokhand

QuoomayFarokhando Chi ArzaaFarokhand!

(Zephyr if you should pass over Geneva,

Convey a word of me to the league of nations

They have sold farmer, and cornfield, river and garden

they have sold a people, and at a price how cheap)

                In JavedNamah when Iqbal meets Mir Syed Ali Hamdani and Ghani Kashmiri, the topic of the conversation also emerges as Kashmir’s condition, slavery and the struggle for Independence.

                Iqbal laments the negligence and indifference of the people of Kashmir in the following couplet;

ChehBehParwaGazschinadAazNawhayeSubhagah Mann

Ki Bard AaShoorWaMastiAzzSyahChishmaniKashmri

(How carelessly they passed by with no ear to my lamentations

The Kashmiri black eyes, so lacking in lustre and life, who made them so dead and mute?)

                For most of his life Iqbal had seen the sinister shadows of a terrible rule hovering over Kashmir horizon, and seeing all this his sensitive heart cries. Allama, who dreamt of independence of Kashmir and wished people of Kashmir to prosper. The spirit of independence in Kashmir was rising after centuries of oppression, the rulers wanted to suppress it. Iqbal stressed on the fact that it is impossible, it is a spark of the soul that will become  a flame.

                On being elected as President of the All India Muslim Conference, Iqbal also raised the issue of Kashmir during his presidential address, “I appeal to the Muslims of Kashmir to beware of the forces that are working against them and to unite their ranks. The time for two or three Political parties in Kashmir has not yet come. The supreme need of the moment is a single party representing all Muslims in the state”.

                During his last years, Iqbal’s great desire was to visit Kashmir but his wish remained unfulfilled. However, his message reached Kshmir.

JisKhaak Kay Zameer Mein HaiAatishChinar

MumkinNahiHai Ki Sarad Ho WohKhaakiArjumand

(The earth that enshrines in its bosom the fire of  plane tree:

This exalted earth can never be dead and cold)

Sameer ul Haq did his masters from Department of History, University of Kashmir.