Dates of Importance

Nation’s Heroes Are Nation’s identities

PUNCHLINE by Z.G. Muhammad
Publish Date: May 19 2008 12:00PM

Some dates get woven in national memoirs. They get so deeply enmeshed in the psyche of nations that even sharp and penetrating scalpels cannot remove them. It is commemoration of these dates that provide identity to the nations. Commemorating, the death anniversaries of national heroes work as potent catalyst for rejuvenating patriotism, invigorating cowards and energizing lethargic to work for the national cause.  
 One of the reviewer’s of Laleh Khalalili’s book, Heroes and Martyrs of Palestine: the Politics of National Commemoration (2007), has very aptly written, “In the process of revolution, commemorations become spaces of mourning and celebration, as death becomes a way of living, or creating life, by other means. The complexity of nationalism and the density of sentiments it engenders for the colonised gives way to socio-political conditions that valorise the strugglers in such away that it magnifies the masculinity of men.”
 Other than the dates, whose commemoration valorise the nations and infuses new life in the movements that otherwise seem dead or dying, there are dates that are of ephemeral importance. These dates retain political significance till the trumpeters remain around and die with a whimper with the passage of time.  Only those dates continue to be commemorated that become parts of the national psyche- it is the national heroes only that find a niche in the psyche of common people.
 In Kashmir also other than the dates highlighted in red on yearly wall calendars signifying national or state holidays there are many dates picked out   on Journalist’s calendar.  Some dates encircled on the journalist’s calendar have been there for the past sixty years and some were born about a quarter century back and some appeared after 1990. 
 All the political parties have had at one or other occasion some dates highlighted on their calendars that were relevant to their politics. The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference for some years observed June 11, with all gusto and enthusiasm. It was on this day that the party was born day in 1939 when the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference was renamed as the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference after a resolution was presented by Maulvi Muhammad Syed Masoodi at a party convention. Notwithstanding the resolution getting majority support it was vehemently opposed by chaudarhy Hamidullah Khan, Malvi Rafi-U-Din, Ghulam Haider Gori and Abdul Sattar Gujree in the convention. The Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference besides other dates similarly observed 9 July as an important day in its history. It was on this day in 1947 that the party adopted a resolution on the lawns of the Muslim Park, Jamia Masjid, and Srinagar calling for accession of the state with Pakistan. The resolution that holds key to the Muslim Conference politics and its inheritors of its politics both fake and genuine stated, “This convention of the Muslim Conference after due deliberations has reached to the conclusion that state accession with Pakistan has become imperative because of geographical contiguity, linguistic proximity, cultural unanimity, religious affinity and for eighty percent of population being Muslims.” (At this juncture of history the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference had majority in the state assembly (Praja Sabha) and resolution according some political commentators had greater legal validity than that of the National Conference leaders).  The day was observed by the Muslim Conference cadres with all enthusiasm across the Ceasefire Line and on this side by the leftover cadres of the organization by hoisting flags on lampposts and roof tops.  As the time ticked on many important dates that were being religiously commemorated by the rival political parties lost their political significance for them.
 After 1947, with the Muslim Conference leaving behind only a sentiment but no organization on this side of LoC, the dates that were commemorated by the party to fortify its ideology and political outlook found no takers.   Of all the commemorative dates born before 1947, only 13 July survived the vicissitudes’ of politics. On this day in 1931, the soldiers of autocratic Dogra ruler fired on Muslims killing twenty one of them with wounds in chest.
 In the post 1947, new dates emerged as benchmarks in contemporary Kashmir history and at different points of times different political organizations observed these days on both the sides of the state. The dates that assumed significance for Kashmir politics after 1947 and provided a cause to observe them to some political leaders and parties have been 5, January- it was on this day in 1949 that UNCIP passes a resolution stating, “”The question of accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of free and impartial plebiscite”. October 27 the day when in 1947 the first contingent of Indian troops landed at Srinagar Airport is another day that continues to be observed variability by different political groups.   August 9, the day when Sheikh Abdullah was deposed and arrested by his friend Jawaharlal Nehru was observed as black day by the Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front for about twenty two years. On this day the party held public meetings, hoisted black flags on the party offices and workers of party exploded crackers as protest in the evenings. The day lost its relevance after Sheikh Abdullah was inducted as Chief Minister and the Plebiscite Front was disbanded. 
 In mid eighties, 11 February was born as yet another date of great significance for Kashmir politics. It was on this day in 1984, one of the founding leaders of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front; Muhammad Maqbool Bhat was put to gallows in a jail in New Delhi. This day that initially was observed by very few people, with every year rolling attained more and more significance. And in nineties  like a phoenix he emerged to dominate the political scene and lead the ‘struggle’- his iconic figure became a rallying point for many and made them to sacrifice their lives for the “cause they believed in”.
 In 1990, May 21, yet another commemorative day   was added to the ‘political calendar’ of Kashmir. On this day founder President of Jammu and Kashmir Awami Action Committee, Mirwaiz Molvi Muhammad Farooq   was assassinated by some un-identified gun men at his residence in Nageen.  Who assassinated Mirwaiz and why is one of the many questions about Kashmir politics that perhaps would never be replied truthfully and honestly by any of the contemporary historians.
 Mirwaiz Farooq besides being a religious leader was a political leader of stature. In 1964, when he launched the Jammu and Kashmir Awami Action Committee- it was seen as rebirth of the Muslim Conference politics on this side of the state. He not only emerged as credible voice for right to self-determination for the people of the state  but was also seen as a great advocate  of the two nation theory- it was but for his political outlook that his name got suffixed with ‘pro-pak’ in the official lexicon.
 It may be matter of debate and discussion if he did play the role that destiny had cast for him after 1968, State People’s Convention when mood for U-turn in Sheikh Abdullah was more than obvious but there can be no denying that he emerged as  a  strong – perhaps strongest  voice against the Indra-Sheikh Accord of 1975. He succeeded in creating a strong and deep dent that survived only eight months by holding massive protest rally against the “ invincible  With all limitation his organization suffered from there can be no dispute over his being an icon of struggle for his supporters- who continue to believe in the Muslim Conference politics to this day.
 The Awami Action Committee has been commemorating his martyrdom every year for past eighteen years perhaps to rededicate itself to his political legacy- —. And
He who writes his story
Inherits the land of that Story
 (Mehmood Darwish)

(Mail at: zahdgm@hotmail.com)


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