Decisions Matter

Pandits were projecting the JK Muslims ‘agitation against the Dogra rulers’ denial of socio-religious-economic-political rights to them as if a fight between Muslims & non-Muslims, thereby communalising it
File Photo
File Photo

The rising anger against age old State atrocities & injustices, augmented by the news of sacrilegious acts by non-Muslims pouring in from some Jammu areas, caused outright outrage among the Muslims of Kashmir. (Disputed Legacy, Alastar Lamb, pages 89-90) It was in 1931 when the growing dissatisfaction of the Kashmiri people burst into flame. (Danger in Kashmir, Josef Korbel, page 17) Ultimately, finding courage in the messiah-Pathan, Abdul Qadeer, they raised their voice on 13th July, 1931 which was, however, responded by the despotic ruler's governor Trilok Chand through his Dogra sepoys showering bullets on demonstrating civilians outside central jail Srinagar, leaving 22 of them slain on that fateful day which is, thence, officially observed as "Martyrs' Day" in the State……The memorable words of one of the wounded & dying demonstrators of the brutal massacre who, before breathing his last, was brought in the lawns of Jamia Masjid Srinagar, along with others wounded & bodies of martyrs, on that tragic day, are recorded in the State Constituent Assembly Debates. Sheikh M. Abdullah while recollecting what that martyr had whispered in his ears told the State Constituent Assembly that that martyr's " last words ….still ring in my ears ….supported by his old mother and young wife, was nearing his lost breath and he comforted them in their misery forgetting his own. Then he called for me. When I came to him he looked [at] me straight in the eyes and said. "Abdullah, we have done our duty. Now it is for you and the nation to carry it through to a successful end". ( Pages 110-111). ……

13th July 1931 was doubtless inaugural day of mass agitation of JK [Muslims] for freedom from subjugation & oppression by foreign rulers; the duty stressed upon by that martyr in his 'dying declaration'. The agitation was in sooth a socio-political awareness campaign that had originated from, & was, accordingly, gathering direction, shape & strength from the efforts of Reading Room Party & Jammu Young Men's Muslim Association. Understood from the realistic prism, the movement was undoubtedly & predominantly for the basic human rights of the [Muslims] of JK, for simple reason of that they were overwhelmingly the sufferers & victims of tyranny, injustice, discrimination & arbitrariness at the hands of the despotic rulers since centuries. ………

 If Pandits had been having at least human understanding of, & empathy with their fellow Muslims on, their killings & sufferings, then, they would not have sided with the oppressor nor launched a counter Roti/ Bread Agitation against the Glancy Commission of 1931-1932 that was appointed by the Hari Singh's Administration following 13th July massacre to look into the serious grievances of the Muslim subjects, and its simple acknowledgement of the need for satisfying certain demands of the Muslims. 

……. Pandits were projecting the JK Muslims 'agitation against the Dogra rulers' denial of socio-religious-economic-political rights to them as if a fight between Muslims & non-Muslims, thereby communalising it.  

Apart from appointment of Glancy Commission, in the aftermath of 13th July massacre, the second most important development that took place was formation of the "All JK Muslim Conference" in October, 1932 with SMA as its first President unanimously chosen by all prominent Muslim leaders of that time from Jammu as well as Kashmir. It is noticeable here that in 1931 the Maharaja had given "his blessing to the foundation of three political parties … the Kashmiri Pandits Conference, the Hindu Sabha in Jammu, and the Sikhs' Shiromani Khalsa Darbar…… political representation only for the non-Muslim groups. As a consequence, the overwhelming majority of the population remained without any organised political party". (Ibid, Danger in Kashmir) Following Glancy recommendations, the first ever organised Muslim political party, All JK Muslim Conference/MC, was formed in 1932 that offered common platform to all Muslims of the State. SMA in his inaugural presidential address on 15th October, 1932 assured the minorities that "MC was not against them, their grievances will be addressed, while they must also respect Muslim rights". …… (CJ M Y Saraf's Kashmiris Fight for Freedom (2009) Vol 1, pages 482-483) …..

But the MC which had emerged as symbol of Muslim Unity after mayhem of 13th July 1931 did not last long as serious inroads in the mind of its president, SMA, were made by three surrounding groups of people. They were (1) non Muslim local Pandits in the shape of "liberals & intellectuals", (2) Muslim-non-Muslim "communists" …. and & (3) a particular Muslim religious faction of Srinagar who were unfortunately caught in pitched battles on Srinagar- roads with their 'rival' but comparatively most dominant Muslim group of Srinagar. (KW dated 17-09-2017: Three Groups of people) A consequential effect of all these influences was growing "secularisation" of SMA's outlook. So, he became deeply involved in Congress politics, (Alastar Lamb, ibid, page 93) & got himself trapped by its leadership's political ploy of "secularism." (Ref Said Naqvi's interview by Karan Thapur on India Today channel on 03-07-2016)

The direct result of succumbing to these pressures ultimately culminated in burial of the MC when at 1.45 pm night of 11-12 June 1939 it was formally converted into NC at Mujahid Manzil Srinagar. …………

Earlier on 1st April, 1939, Jinnah, in his reply to an address presented by Kashmiri students at the AMU, declaimed: "I can say with certainty that SMA is in the wrong. Having got himself ensnared by the Congress which is thoroughly a Hindu organisation, he has put the ship of his community in a whirlpool. …….." (Statesman, April 16, 1939 also cited in G H Khan's Freedom Movement, with foreword by SMA, (1980, rept 2009) pages 372-373…) Josef Korbel summarises good & bad of two decisions of SMA's making & breaking MC in these words: "… the origins of the present tragic struggle can…. be traced back to those months (of 1939). Up to that time the Muslims had been united through the MC. In 1939 this unity was broken. Responsible for this tragic schism was none other than the popular Lion of Kashmir, SMA". (Korbel page 16)

(The views expressed are personal and not that of the organisation the author works for) 

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