First Political Baptism

First Political Baptism

With thousands of black flags dominating the sky line it seemed as if sun had set during day time on the city.

 Patiently overhearing elders had become a good pastime for me

My schoolbag, like a fallen soldier, was now lying on the cupboard for past few day.  No reading, no writing, and no tuitions. Every morning, as crowds started gathering on the roundabouts, my pals and I also joined these. Like driftwood in gushing up streams, caught up in human waves we also reached to one or other venue of public meeting, where leaders would be thunderously blasting microphones and scores of cone shaped loudspeakers spreading all over the meeting place filled the air with resounding slogans demanding return of Moe-Muqaddas.

With thousands of black flags dominating the sky line it seemed as if sun had set during day time on the city.  Those in the gatherings who did not carry a black flag in their hands, had tied black handkerchiefs on their foreheads or wore black armbands. In sullen, sunless December-January winter, it seemed everything was in mourning- and some chest beating men and women in protest rallies gave it ambiance of a Muarhram processions. 

It was only at dusk that we returned to our Mohalla, and joined the volunteers cooking food in deegs- huge copper cauldrons for thousands of the protestors from distant villages- who spent nights in Masjids and hospices.

Children and boys stoking fires and stirring huge cauldron of rice and vegetables like professional cooks was a spectacle to watch. Elders supervising the voluntary camp talked about politics behind the disappearance of the Moe-Muqaddas – the relic from the sanctum sanctorum of the mosque.  

The gossips with fingers mostly pointed towards India heightened anger amongst the people – many times anger found expression in slogan raising against rulers of the state, and the India.  

I remember one evening, three or four days after the theft, a person, not from our Mohalla, said  at the crossing that Moe-Muqaddas had been recovered from two nomads in Kangan who were on way to Azad Kashmir.

On hearing the news someone in the gathering cried “Hushar-Hushar”- a slogan that was invented by Molvi Syed for cautioning people against the fifth-columnists and agent provocateurs. And someone else cried he is a CID and it is a police decoy. The man in seconds disappeared from the scene. 

The gossips of elders during those chilly evenings at these voluntary camps was in fact first baptism for children of our generation in political activism. Patiently overhearing elders had become a good pastime for me.

Teams of officers from New Delhi had come to Srinagar to see calm returning to the streets.  One evening a neighbour an official in the state assembly lamenting how these officers looked at our leaders narrated the whole story; how one of the senior officers had humiliated Prime Minister Shamas-u-Din and made him to wait outside his room for hours as if he was his peon.

The Prime Minister had gone to meet this officer in the guest house. The gossip would also revolve around about if Moe-Mubark is found, who will identify its genuineness. 

I had deedar of small phial with silver filigree and pendants attached to it containing Moe-Muqaddas from a distance of hundreds yards with my mother as a toddler and as school going child on many solemn days like Prophet’s (SAW) birthday. Like millions other had never seen what was inside the phial – it were only selected few that could have deedar at a close distance…One evening Radio Kashmir announced Moe-Mubark has been found…. ??