In my article “Slogans of Autonomy” (GK Dec 26, 2018) I had, at the end, suggested to evolve a pragmatic approach to our struggle consistent with Uswa-e-hasna of our beloved Prophet (SAW). The Prophet of Islam was not only an embodiment of all virtues and piety for us to follow in our worship, worldly affairs but his statesmanship is the guiding principle for our public life.
These qualities he immensely exhibited in his Makka phase by tolerating all sufferings with patience and thereafter in his Medina phase by creating a peaceful environment with peace treaty with Jews and Christians. The greatest hallmark was his Sulhai Hudaibiya – Armistice Hudaibiya – a treaty of peace and accommodation with fellow Meccans. The Prophet with his companions to perform Umrah was stopped at Hudaibiya and after prolonged deliberation arrived at Sulhai Hudaibiya.
The treaty conclusively provided deferment of Umrah, return of any fugitive Meccan not allowed but instead of any Medina fellow not being returned to Medina. What was the most disturbing for followers of the Prophet that peace treaty being between Muhammad son of Abdullah and not Prophet as was written by his trusted Lieutenant Hazrat Ali RA and this word replaced by Prophet himself.
As all the followers were disturbed, the Prophet took the lead in performing qurbani intended for Umrah by his own hands and all followers followed suit in compliance. The apparent one-sided treaty at Hudaibiya was termed in Quran as Fateh Maliea (Manifest Victory) which came the following year with Prophet and his huge followers in Makkah without a single shot being fired. We need introspection of last seventy year of our public life and take remedial measures to draw up a realistic strategy consistent with safeguarding our identity without jeopardising the State’s integrity and centuries old brotherhood of all sections of the society.
While introspecting we should not lose sight of Missed Opportunities. While there are numerous instances of such opportunities, I would like to mention a few.
The constitutional coup of 1953 deposing elected government on brazen flimsy grounds under the order of Sadr e Riyasat that PM has lost confidence of his Council of Ministers who were constitutionally with his pleasure was the beginning of political turmoil and instability in the state.
Possibly if Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah had not played into the hands of those who wanted his dismissal, he would have been bulwark at safeguarding the State’s special status agreed under Delhi Agreement, 1952 incorporated in the State Constitution in 1957.
His continuance with his stalwarts like Bakshi Sahib, Beg Sahib, Sadiq Sahib, Maulana Masoodi, Sardar Budh Singh would have been deterrent for any mischief. His speeches in Ganderbal, RS Pora and Hazratbal in June 1952/53 where Maulana Azad felt humiliated for not being allowed to speak to the congregate proved to be the last straw on the camel’s back. His dismissal was a prelude to his sufferings and unabated sufferings of the people of Kashmir.
I had the privilege to work closely with him post 1975 Accord and was Home Secretary in 1977 after his landslide victory despite all out opposition by Janata Party at the Centre. I had a series of meetings with him in June/July 1982 when due to illness he was at home. While I would not divulge some of the issues, I have no doubt that he was a sad man, and despite state funeral, he must have carried with him the pain and anguish of the people. May God bless his soul.
As mentioned earlier, out of the missed opportunities, I would like to count two incidents of my public life post retirement in 1995. In 1997-98, I visited my neighbourhood in Ganderbal while a young boy of the family got killed by security forces.
A senior leader of Hurriyat was present with some of his associates and after exchange of pleasantries asked me as to why I had joined the National Conference when I had other options. To this I mentioned if I could find answers to two questions which I faced with the polity, while in service.
In 1990-91 a parliamentary delegation visited the state and non-cooperation from all stakeholders was the order of the day. Former J&K Governor, Late Girish Chandra Saxena suggested to me when I was Financial Commissioner to interact with them and if possible, connect to the civil society.
I agreed on explicit condition that I would give them fair and true picture of the situation which he readily agreed to. As always in closed door meetings I would be true to any professional career.
I had a long meeting with the delegation at Chashmae Shahi Huts and gave them true picture of killings, destruction of property and hardships faced by the people at large and civil servants/security forces in particular.
They were highly influenced and desired to meet members of the public. I did try through contact points but nobody from press, general public came forward and even Hurriyat declined.
My question to respected leader of Hurriyat was why they refused to meet cross section of leaders of the country when some of them were openly sympathetic to the people of the state and this would have given the hurriyat an opportunity to convey the ground realities to the country when sometimes these remain shrouded due to security reasons.
What about Hurriyat opening public relations office in Delhi after some years to appraise the country about real Kashmir, when nobody cared to meet them in that office and was closed thereafter. Was this not a lost opportunity?
The second occasion pertains to the Hazratbal siege in 1993. The militants holed up in the shrine agreed to talk to me when I was Chief Secretary or Wajahat Habibullah who was Divisional Commissioner. Govt decided on Wajahat to conduct negotiations which got disrupted due to his serious car accident and I was signalled to talk.
I took personal risk to meet the militants in Eastern lawns of the shrine with forces outside cordon and militants with guns outside. I appealed to them, inter alia to come out on assured safety to avoid any damage to the shrine which was well considered decision of the centre and the state government no matter how long the siege took.
During this period, I was authorised to talk to the Hurriyat and fortunately held discussion with two respected Hurriyat leaders at my official residence in Gupkar in presence of senior representatives of MHA. In fact I arranged their meeting with Governor K.V. Krishna Rao at Raj Bhavan when I recused myself for their frank and open discussion.
This could have led to talks with PM Narsimha Rao on overall issues. The Hurriyat leaders subsequently under their inner compulsion stayed away because an open appeal to militants to come out from shrine would have established openly their credibility as stakeholders but the opportunity was lost when their effectiveness was much sought for.
The militants came out through efforts of the State government and Astan e alia was saved much to the relief of all.
The mainstream parties talk about autonomy or self rule as panacea while Hurriyat as Azadi. The Government of India could have considered autonomy but the slogan of Azadi would remain which no government at Centre could even afford to concede. Here comes Musharraf/Vajpayee/Dr. Manmohan Singh formula for consideration. While Imran Khan is ready to take two steps forward if GoI takes one step, the main stakeholders are stuck……Na Jaye Raftan, Na Paye Mandan.
In my statement on Faisal’s Adieu to IAS, I had expressed my sadness and disappointment on his resignation. However cautioned him to join any political party which have proved borrowed from outside the boundaries of the state.
Our political leaders have been found all along wavering at critical times to meet the aspirations of the people who however, with all their sufferings have unwaveringly trusted them and stood with them all along. I have lauded his effort for public service and quoted Maulana Rumi as under “Service to the humanity excels you but self deception is deprivation”.
“Har Ke Khidmat Kard Makhdoom shud
Har Ke Khud Ra Deed Mehroom Shud”
Now that Shah Faisal has quit IAS, plunged in politics and is set to launch a new party, will this be a new pace setter for a unique party or add to the number of other regional parties, thus fragmenting the voting pattern of the state to the advantage of the national party which consolidated in Jammu to the near decimation of other Srinagar based regional parties.
It appears that despite the unifying slogan of safeguarding the special status of the state, the regional parties refuse to see the writing on the wall that their lack of assimilation will ultimately facilitate the total merger of the state and thus their slogans of autonomy, self rule or azadi will remain part of political History of the state. We should then cry
“Is ghar ko aag lag gayi ghar ke chirag se” (The house caught fire by in-house lamp)
Here comes the golden principle of Sulhai Hudaibiya for our leaders which will not only prevent further bloodshed and destruction but may herald a manifest triumph for all the regions of our state. Ameen.
(Sheikh Ghulam Rasool is the Former Chief Secretary J&K Government)