War over Airwaves

Now the sounds of the clattering of hobnailed and iron heel boots of men in olive green that as a tiny tot and toddler had woken me up from sleep with a fright, had stopped to disturb morning silence.
War over Airwaves
Representational Pic

The scene on streets outside our home had changed. Now the sounds of the clattering of hobnailed and iron heel boots of men in olive green that as a tiny tot and toddler had woken me up from sleep with a fright, had stopped to disturb morning silence. Nevertheless, the stories about the bombardment of the Shaltang, Sheikh Abdullah and Nehru in an open jeep passing triumphantly through the famous poplar tree avenue of Srinagar-Rawalpindi Road unmindful of hundred of bodies littered on both the sides of the road and vultures feasting on them. The stories about some 'emergency administrators' turned fascists sending people to jail for not exhibiting obeisance and saluting them resonated in every home 

The Azad Kashmir Radio perpetuated these atrocious memories with the people and inspired them to rise in revolt against the 'compromised' leadership and the 'collaborators'. The song "Watan Hamara Azad Kashmir" by Hafeez Jullundhri played as signature tune by the Azad Kashmir Radio sent a stronger message to people than booming of guns on the mountain peaks of the State. On the airwaves of Kashmir the Radio Azad Kashmir reigned supreme.  None less than Jawaharlal Nehru had seen it as a challenge. To meet this challenge, Nehru had roped in entire tribe of Urdu progressive writers, engaged them in devising strategy to discredit the programs of the Azad Kashmir Radio. The program 'Awami Raj' broadcast in early fifties from Radio Kashmir was their brainchild.  In 1984, famous short story and filmmaker Rajinder Singh Bedi in an interview said that it was Nehru who had sent all big names amongst progressive writers to Kashmir and appointed him as Director Radio Kashmir stationed at Jammu. And later on, when the station started working from Polo Ground, Srinagar he worked as Advisor broadcasting to the state government. The host of progressive writers engaged themselves in devising programs broadcast from Azad Kashmir Radio. The popularity of programs from Azad Kashmir Radio including Zarb-e-Kaleem, written and presented by Abdul Rahman, Ladishah, written and presented by Mohammad Ali Kanwal, 'Manaet-Dubb and Allah Log had unnerved the government. For monitoring the Programs broadcast from Azad Kashmir Radio, the state government had created a special cell. It scribbled, transcribed, and cyclostyled every program broadcast from Radio Station at Trarkhal. Like police diaries, the cyclostyled sheets transcribed Azad Kashmir Radio program were sent to entire Abdullah cabinet and police top brass. Talking about the panic Azad Kashmir caused in government an ace broadcaster told me that one day a "dead drunk super cop" barged into the broadcasting room and vented his spleen against these programs by kicking at the door and hurling invectives at the staff artists.   

To lessen the impact of the programs broadcast from Trarkhal and inject official propaganda in the minds of people the government installed the community radio sets with one or two megaphones at every crossing in the city. In our locality, three such radio sets screamed inside our house even with windows shut.  The names of three counter programs broadcast from Radio Kashmir   'Gumband-Ki-Awaz', Jawab-i-Hamala and Wadi-ki-awaz still resonate in my mind. For making these programs matching to those from the radio stations on the other side of the dividing line,   Radio Kashmir hired the service of some talented non-state subject like Muztar Hashmi and Opinder Ishaq.  Later on, some talented local writers like Prem Nath Paradise and Bansi Nirdosh were recruited as staff artists for writing and presenting high profile counter propaganda programs. Interestingly enough these propaganda programs could dislodge programs like Zarb-e-Kaleem and Maant-Dubb from the Radio Rooms of the overwhelming majority. 

The war on airwaves, I have to remember touched its peaks after 1965. 

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