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A series of five articles on the History of Kashmir, by Munshi Ghulam Hassan, carried in the Greater Kashmir Newspaper, Srinagar, Kashmir in June 2005.

The events that shaped the history of Kashmir -V

This is how it all happened, Munshi Ghulam Hassan recollects the memories of a forgotten political past

(from greaterkashmir.com)

In pursuance of dissension in Muslim Conference two rival organizations All Kashmir Shia Association headed by Ansari family and Anjumani Moosvi under the patronage of Aga family of Badgam were founded. The latter with no political agenda confined its activities to religious affairs. The former was akin to the party led by Moulvi Yousuf Shah having links with the government. The adherents of both the rival factions apparently in league with the followers of Moulvi Yousuf Shah laid a siege around the premises of Imamia School Zadibal where Sheikh Sahib was to address a public meeting. Jalali Sahib’s house was also stoned and he temporarily shifted his residence to a relation’s house at Arwat Fateh Kadal. The ungrateful people forgot his political vision and his role in educational field as founder and financer of Imamia School, which made valuable contribution in the spread of education. Public meeting was completely disturbed and the people leaving the venue were attacked injuring many of them. A freedom fighter, Malik Ghulam Hussain, was laid down naked in a sunken grave at Baba Mazar with his dress torn and virtually made naked. A local alimi deen Sheikh Abdul Ali (RA) gave him shelter for the night in his house and provided him clothes to change the torn ones. Sheikh Sahib and his workers following him in two lorries were attacked by a big mob by the followers of Moulvi Sahib at Gojwara. Sheikh Sahib with a staff in hand came out of the car and chased away the crowd. Being out of sight for about fifteen minutes in the midst of the mob his followers were apprehensive of his safety. They heaved a sigh of relief when he came back. In the meantime his followers from adjacent areas assembled in large number and accompanied him in a procession upto Khanyar where he addressed a big gathering. The unfortunate event was provoked, inter alia, by the vested interests owing to the deputation to a foreign country for engineering training of a pro-movement Shia youth who was close to Sheikh Sahib who recommended him against another youth of the same community, a resident of Zadibal, who also was devoted to Sheikh Sahib and the movement but whose family was allied to the rival party.

Intriguingly, Shia association under the influence of pro-government vested interests demanded ‘Judagana’ (separate representation for Shias). They planned to adopt the resolution in a largely attended majlisi Hussain in Imam Bara Zadibal but this attempt was foiled by the Anjumani Imamia and members and other pro-movement followers. The resolution was later on adopted in working committee meeting at the residence of its president. As a counter measure pro-Muslim Conference faction set up a rival party under the identical name of ‘Shia Association’ and opposed the said judaganai resolution. Ironically this resolution was passed under the Presidentship of Aga Sher Ali who as a member of the original Shia Association was a party to judagana resolution. In the meantime, Munshi Muhammad Ishaq, on behalf of pro-movement faction founded and financed a weekly newspaper Zulfikar as an organ of the rival Shia Association’. Hakim Ghulam Hussain Makhmoor was its editor and Hakim Qasim Ali Manager, Hakim Ghulam Safdar who was in government employment used to write pseudonymously. It was virtually a mouthpiece of Muslim Conference. Its editor faced a few cases for publishing anti-government articles and its license was cancelled. The rival party also published a weekly Hilal for some period. The two papers with opposite ideologies, interalia, indulged in mud-slinging against each other. The other party, Anjumani Moosvi, though rival to Shia Association was hand in glove with the latter in judagana demand as has been their wont against progressive movements to protect their own vested interest.

They repeated this tradition in the year 1947 when Shia Federation was founded to meet a serious situation faced by the community for their pro-Pak ideology. The president of Shia Association was however awarded government nominated seat in Praja Sabha. The issue of judagana was talked to Qaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in the year 1936 before he had assumed the leadership of Muslim League, at a reception held in his honour at the residence of Thakar Aga Syed Hussain. He called the demand ridiculous. During the course of that visit he paid a visit to Islamia High School and also attended a function at Imamia High School. He also addressed Eid Millad-un-Nabi (SAW) public meeting at Mujahid Manzil. In his speech he stated that the position of Muslim Conference in Kashmir is like that of Indian National Congress in India. The two should gain the confidence of minority communities in their respective countries. That was the period when he wanted the Congress to promise protection of rights of Muslims and other minorities to avoid partition of the country but unfortunately Congress was averse to it which forced him to demand Pakistan by Lahore resolution of Muslim League in the year 1940. In our state Shia community in general and Shia Association in particular were staunch, votaries of the two-nation theory and the states accession to Pakistan. The community suffered heavily for this ideology after 1947.

This aspect will be dealt with in a subsequent article covering post 1947 period. Mr. Colvin, a British civil servant, succeeded Raja Hari Kishan Kaul, as Prime Minister. His tenure of about four years was peaceful without any political turmoil till the year 1938. The government did not take any measure, which could disturb the peace. Mr. Colvin was succeeded by Sir Gopala Swami Ayengar. Though a loyal civil servant of British Indian government he had leanings towards Indian National Congress. Muslim Conference leaders used to have parleys with him but in vain. It is in his tenure that a resolution to convert Muslim Conference into National Conference was moved at the grand annual session of Muslim Conference held at Jammu. It could not be passed and was kept in abeyance to invite public opinion. Interestingly Pt. Bazaz was on the stage.

This followed the ‘National Demand’ for responsible government under the aegis of His Highness the Maharajah. The ‘National Demand’ was signed by some Muslim Conference leaders of Kashmir valley, a few Kashmiri Pandit leaders and a lone Sikh leader of Jammu province, Sardar Budh Singh. There was not a single Muslim leader of Jammu province. The Muslim leaders of the valley also belonged to Srinagar district except Moulvi Masoodi and Mirza Afzal Beg respectively of Muzaffarabad and Islamabad districts. Simultaneously special responsible government number of weekly Hamdard containing 110 pages was published on 3Ist July 1938. It contained a cartoon like a savage looking man with two horns on his head representing irresponsible government trampling upon the people but chained and pulled down by the people. Messages of Congress, Muslim League and other leaders including Qaid-i-Azam but not Gandhi Ji and also Indians living in foreign countries adorned the issue. Mahjoor’s revolutionary poem ‘Walu Ha Bagbanoo Naw Baharuk Shan Paida Kar’ appeared in it. The history of the movement in pictures including photos of martyrs since the year 1931 was its special feature. The paper contained a message of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah suggesting formation of a secular political party, which could help in achieving responsible government. Obviously this was in the context of the resolution moved in Jammu session of Muslim Conference.

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A series of five articles on the History of Kashmir, by Munshi Ghulam Hassan, carried in the Greater Kashmir Newspaper, Srinagar, Kashmir in June 2005.

The events that shaped the history of Kashmir -IV

This is how it all happened, Munshi Ghulam Hassan recollects the memories of a forgotten political past.

(from greaterkashmir.com)

The intensity of the movement compelled the Maharajah to give an audience to the leaders who submitted their demands. These included elected legislature and local bodies, release of Auqaf properties, recruitment of Muslims in service in proportion to their population, freedom of the press and platform etc. In this meeting the leaders were aware of the haughty and arrogant nature of the Maharajah. This led to the appointment of two commissions, Middleton commission and the Galancy Commission. The object of the former commission was to look into the excesses committed by the government agencies on the people. Muslim Conference drafted Mirza Afzal Beg, who had returned from Aligarh with a degree in law, to plead the cases of the aggrieved victims. The fate of this commission was no different from such other commissions, which are set up just to cool down the tempers of the people with hardly any tangible result. The other commission was required to consider and make recommendations about various demands of the people including constitutional reforms. Members from various communities, regions and classes were included in the commission to present their demands. Muslim Conference was represented by Ghulam Ahmad Ashai and Chowdhary Ghulam Abbas. Anjumani Imamia headed by Aga Syed Hussain Jalali was asked by the government to nominate a Shia Muslim member. In a meeting of Anjumani Imamia some members opined that there was no need to nominate a person as Muslim Conference represents all sects of Muslims including Shias but on the suggestion of the president Hakim Muhammad Ali, an employee of sericulture department and father of Hakim brothers who were members of Reading Room party and Ashai committee, was nominated. He however endorsed the demands made by Muslim Conference members.

Pandit Prem Natth Bazaz, president Yuwak Sabha and representative of Kashmiri Pandits, also partially supported the demands and grievances of Muslim Conference representatives, Kashmiri Pandits were annoyed with him and on his return from Jammu, where the proceedings of the commission were conducted, he was beaten and laid down flat in a drain. He sought help form Muslims crying in anguish ‘Musalman Bhayoo Meri Madad Karo’. He was ousted from Yuwak Sahib and succeeded by Jai Lal Kilam. Muslims were naturally full of sympathy for him and gave him utmost cooperation.

Galancy commission report reflected the abject plight of Muslims, in educational and other fields with their deprivation in government services attributable to discriminatory policy of the government. The commission, inter alia, recommended, freedom of press and platform, reservation of Muslims in government services, convening of legislative assembly with limited franchise and majority of government nominated members. The recommendations were partly accepted by the government. Ban on Punjab Muslim print media was lifted. Zamindar, Inqalab, Sayasat and other newspapers were available in the market. In the state itself licenses for publication of local papers were freely issued. With the birth of Muslim Conference in the year 1932 the movement took formal shape and it gained full momentum. During the currency of the two commissions Sheikh Sahib and many other political workers were put behind bars. One morning it was widely rumoured that the arrested persons are flogged in exhibition ground. The people in multitude assembled in Khanyar with one end at Nawpora and the other at Nowhatta. One and all were armed with knives, swords and sticks with sharp iron edges. A procession form Mirbahri called ‘Narchoo Paltan’ with ‘Narchoos’ in their hands joined the demonstrators. The people demanded release of Sheikh Sahib and others. All along the day the government was a passive spectator and was wise enough not to use force lest hundreds of people would be trampled upon. The people threatened to march to the palace and launch an attack on it. In the afternoon Nawab Khusraw Sung and Salam Shah called on Moulvi Yousuf Shah and Saad-ud-Din Shawl at the latter’s residence at Khanyar. The two leaders were taken to have a meeting with the Maharajah. For the delay in their return the people were highly agitated. On their arrival Moulvi Sahib advised them to be patient and exercise restraint. The people became suspicious and left the venue in utter disappointment.

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A series of five articles on the History of Kashmir, by Munshi Ghulam Hassan, carried in the Greater Kashmir Newspaper, Srinagar, Kashmir in June 2005.

The events that shaped the history of Kashmir -III

This is how it all happened, Munshi Ghulam Hassan recollects the memories of a forgotten political past.

(from greaterkashmir.com)

Protest meetings to condemn the contempt of Holy Qur’an in Jammu were held in Srinagar as well. A crowded public meeting was held at Khankah Moulla. One Qadeer Khan, a Pathan Khansarman of a European tourist lady, in a fiery speech against the government advised the people to fight the government forces courageously and respond the bullets with ‘Sarad Golay’ (stones). He was arrested and charged with treason. The government apprehending trouble from large crowds in the court premises shifted the court to jail premises. On Monday 13th of July 1931 when the court was to announce the judgment people in thousands assembled at the gate of the prison forcing their entry into the premises to witness the proceedings. Having been barred to enter they threatened to ignite the premises. The police opened fire and showered bullets indiscriminately killing scores up unarmed civilians, efforts to contact the Prime Minister Mr. Wakfield, and inspector general police, Thakar Gandharb Singh, failed. Presumably they intentionally went into hiding.

The bodies of the martyrs were carried to Jamia Masjid by the people, the city witnessed violent demonstrations and a few shops of Hindu traders in Maharaja Gunj were looted. The city and its surrounding areas were handed over to military. Fire was also opened in various towns of the valley killing many people. Sheikh Sahib and his compatriots Moulvi Abdul Rahim and Ghulam Nabi Gilkar were arrested and detained in Hari Parbat Fort. The people intended to take the Jinazah in a procession to the graveyard but the government did not allow it. With the mediation of Nawab Khusraw Jung, minister in waiting and Kh. Salam Shah Naqashbandi, Assistant Governor, the Jinazah accompanied by fifty persons were taken for burial to the precincts of Ziarat Naqashbandi Sahib, since than known as Mazar-e-Shuhda. Chaudhry Abbas, Gawhar Rehman and Yaqub Ali were also arrested and imprisoned in the said fort.

Public meetings and demonstrations continued at Jamia Masjid premises. Mufti Jalal-ud-din was the first speaker and Ghulam Kadir Bhat, alias Sheri Gandarbali, the second one. They were known as second and third dictators. The peoples representatives particularly Moulvi Muhammad Yousuf Shah were fervently active facing the situation with great courage and fearlessly. Once he went to Hariparbat Fort to meet the detainees. He found Sheikh Sahib depressed but being encouraged by Gilkar Sahib. People in multitude waited at Malkhah for Moulvi Sahib’s return. They were full of anxiety for his delay. When he came back they were so much excited that they ran throughout the city crying ‘he came, he came’. The law and order situation turned so grave that. Mr. Wakfield was discharged replaced by Raja Hari Kishan Kaul. A few weeks after his appointment Sheikh Sahib and other detenues were set free to pave a way for negotiations. He was intriguer and with his intrigues and secret meetings with influential citizens and use of money power there were signs of dissension among the leaders. He also invited Muslim leaders of India to use their good offices to pacify the agitation. He held meetings with the leaders also. Sheikh Sahib could not be won over and he was re-arrested. The movement spread over the whole state. Fire was ruthlessly opened in Uri, Muzaffarabad, Baramulla, Sopore, Handwara, Islamabad, Poonch and other towns killing hundreds of people.

Kashmir committee presided over by Mirza Muhammad Ahmad Qadiani was set up in Punjab to lend support to the movement, which partially came under the influence of Ahmadees. Sheikh Sahib entirely depended upon the advice of Moulvi Muhammad Abdullah Vakil who professed Ahmadi faith though he became ‘behayee later on’.

The strategy and the propaganda material originated from his drawing room. Rumours were floated to activate and give a fillip to the agitation. It was given out that a continuous hartal by the trading community for a month would lead to the fall of the government. The people resisting the pressure of the government observed complete hartal counting days for the government to fall. Another gossip floated was that the words ‘Sheri Kashmir’ were written on the leaves of the trees.

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A series of five articles on the History of Kashmir, by Munshi Ghulam Hassan, carried in the Greater Kashmir Newspaper, Srinagar, Kashmir in June 2005.

The events that shaped the history of Kashmir -II

This is how it all happened, Munshi Ghulam Hassan recollects the memories of a forgotten political past.

(from greaterkashmir.com)

The presentation of the memorandum to the Viceroy by the representation of Shia and Sunni Muslims jointly was an important landmark in the field of Muslim brotherhood. This was followed by the participation of Shia Muslims headed by Aga Syed Hussain Shah Jalali in the procession organized by Jamati Hamdani from Charari Sharief to Khankahi Moulla. This was reciprocated by Jamati Hamdani Cooperating with Shia Muslims in taking out Ashura Muharram procession during the day. In the past two processions were taken out on 10th Muharram during night and terminated in the morning, one under the management of Jalali Sahib from Namchibal to Imam Bara Zadibal and the other from Zadibal to Imam Bara Hassan Abad under the patronage of Aga Sahib Badgam. The government would not allow the procession to be taken out during the day apprehending trouble. Some sections of Sunni Muslims were against those processions and would avoid to witness them on a false belief that witnessing them would terminate the legal wedlock. Jalali Sahib dared to take it out during the day. The police took the Zuljinah in its possession and did not allow the procession to proceed. A group of Kahkashees, however, led the procession with holy Qur’an on their heads and the grand procession reached the destination in the evening. Thus the foundation of the daytime Ashura procession was laid with the active cooperation of Sunni brothers. For a couple of years some trouble was apprehended around Razia Kadal but subsequently the residents of that area were also tolerant. After a few years the government permitted the other procession also to be taken out during the day.

Active and enthusiastic participation in the political movement launched in the year 1931 by all the sects of Muslims strengthened the relations between Shias and Sunnis. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah played a prominent role in it. He warned the misguided Sunnis elements who levelled baseless charge of Adam Khuri against Shias. His role in improving the relations between the two sects and persuading the two Shia factions to organize only one Ashura Muharram procession is laudable and unforgettable. The community should always be indebted to him for this contribution.

 

 

Maharajah Pratab Singh, Singh’s nephew Hari Singh, s/o Raja Amar Singh was studying in London. He was a victim of a monetary scandal involving a huge financial loss masterminded by a Britishers. The Maharaja being annoyed with the Britishers recalled Hari Singh. Pratap Singh died in the year 1925 succeeded by Hari Singh on the advice of the British government and local dewans though the widow of late Maharajah was in favour of Raja Poonch to be installed on the throne. The British government, whose relations with the state government were not cordial, was keenly watching the situation pulling wires behind the curtain. At the time of commencement of political movement the British governments own man Mr. Wakefield was the Prime Minister and he followed their policy. It may not be wrong to say that he was a mover of the movement.

A batch of post-graduate Muslim youth who returned form Muslim University Ali Garh could not get suitable jobs owing to discriminatory policy of the government. Not to speak of a political party even a social organization needed government’s permission under the law of the land. The said youth under the garb of a reading room at Fateh Kadal used to meet and discuss the problems facing Muslims to chalk out a line of action. Besides the president Kh. Muhammad Rajab and Secretary Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Hakim Ali and his brother, Hakim Ghulam Murtaza were among its members. Thereafter in the year 1930, Kh. Ghulam Ahmad Ashai, inspector schools, having been prematurely retired, convened a meeting of some intellectuals apprising them of the unjust and discriminatory policy of the government against Muslims. A secret committee was constituted to collect the community-wise data of government employees for publication in Punjab Muslim print media. The committee headed by Ashai Sahib comprised Muhammad Rajab, Hakim Ali, Hakim Ghulam Safdar, Pirzada Master Ghulam Rasool, Ali Shah, Ghulam Ahmad Jeweller, Ahsan Ullah and Master Dost Muhammad. Ghulam Ahmad Shonthoo and Hakim Ghulam Murtaza were associated with it for some time before they were deputed on training. The writing of articles was assigned to Hakim Ghulam Safdar. Being an employee of Accountant Generals department he managed to get surreptitiously a copy of civil list from the confidential branch of the department. With its wide publicity in Punjab Muslim press the government was very much defamed and disturbed. The Finance Minister P K Wattal, with a biased communal mind, wrote a confidential letter to Mr. Fanday, Accountant General to make an inquiry about its leakage but he could not get any clue. Hindu pres was out and out in support of the Dogra regime, (constitution of Ashai Committee is recorded in Hakim Ghulam Saddar’s Dairy).

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A series of five articles on the History of Kashmir, by Munshi Ghulam Hassan, carried in the Greater Kashmir Newspaper, Srinagar, Kashmir in June 2005.

The events that shaped the history of Kashmir – I

This is how it all happened, Munshi Ghulam Hassan recollects the memories of a forgotten political past.

(from greaterkashmir.com)

My article (What went wrong and how? mainly based on the memoirs of my father, Alhaj Munshi Muhammad Ishaq, three-time president of All Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front, about the political movement of our state covering the period 1938-1947 was published in the leading daily Greater Kashmir (16th to 19th November 2003) under the above caption. I now write about the momentous events of pre-1938 period and God willing, shall write about the post 1947 period in due course of time. Reference to other sources of information is given at the relevant places.The political movement launched in the year 1931 had a limited purpose of demanding, inter alia, justice with Muslims in recruitment to government service, elected legislature and local bodies, release of Auqaf properties in government possession. Before I deal with the topic it may be appropriate to make a brief reference to its background and some movements launched in the past though on a limited scale.

Once there was an acute scarcity of food grains and the government was unmoved. The people approached Kh. Mukhtar Shah Ashai, a noble dignitary. On his advice they marched in a procession after offering Friday prayers in Jamia Masjid and passed through two gates of Ashai sahib’s residence. The unusual event was reported to the Maharajah who called Ashai Sahib to make an inquiry about it. The latter submitted that the people suffering from acute from scarcity sought his permission to make a revolt but he warned them not to take such an unlawful step. The device worked and next day the market was flooded with food grains at cheaper rates. Another such event occurred in the year 1903 CE one rupee was the cost of each 2 ½ seers of rice, 3 ½ seers of wheat, 4 seers of paddy and 4 ½ seers of maize. Massive demonstrations at Amira Kadal with stone pelting at Court promises were held under the leadership of one Hussain Shah Zeerak by Muslims as well as Hindus. The distressed government called out military to deal with the situation. Zeerak and many other persons were arrested under the orders of Raja Amar Singh and prosecuted in the court of a biased judge Babu Reshibar Zeerak Sahib was sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment with a fine of two hundred and fifty rupees. The other leader who was a Hindu was fined two hundred rupees only and this amount was also paid by the Maharaja out of his own pocket. Twenty other accused were sentenced with a lighter punishment of a few months imprisonment with some fine. Most of Hindu detainees were set free. After a couple of months Zeerak, who was a poet, was released on submission of a petition to the Maharajah containing the following verse `Zeerak ba zeerki ba jail raseed nirkhi shali ba asli khaish raseed’. The discriminatory treatment against Muslims even by a court is obvious.

Undoubtedly the abject plight of Muslims was attributable to the biased and discriminatory policy of Sikh and Dogra regimes in government employment and other fields but lack of education was the main contributory factor for their poverty and backwardness. The Mullahs used to give futwah of Kufur to a person learning English and acquiring modern education. The unfortunate negligence in acquisition of knowledge by Muslims can be gauged from the following extract of autobiography (unpublished) of my grand father, Abdul Hamid Munshi Hassan Ali, who learnt English surreptitiously even without the knowledge of his father from an English doctor of Drugjan missionary hospital when it was opened in consideration of teaching the doctor Kashmiri for about three years. He was the first teacher of Christian Missionary School Fateh Kadal. In the beginning hundred percent students were Hindus. I have in my possession a diary written in his hand relating to the years 1900 and 1901 containing the names of thirty two beneficiaries of poor found given to them for payment of school fee and for purchases of dress etc. All of them were Pandits. The relevant extract follows. `When the school was opened the students who got admission were hundred percent Hindus.

I tried to persuade Muslims but in vain. Being victims of ignorance they are under the influence of Mullahs under whose edicts one who learns English is a Kafir. I could persuade a few upper class families but it gave me no pleasure because they are interested in confining it to their own class only, on the other hand pursuit of education by Hindus is laudable. Muslims who are still victims of superstition and ignorance would awaken but it would be too late when there would be no alternative but to repent and wail.” With the advent of Christian missionaries a campaign of conversion to Christianity was launched. As an employee of mission school Munshi Sahib used to have discussions with the missionaries and was annoyed to notice the anti-Islam literature published mostly in Kashmiri language. In absence of any reaction for local Mullahs he made intensive research for about three years studying numerous books on Christianity and Islam. He found Islam to be the only true religion and compiled a book named Mizan-ul-Tahqiq. The book in manuscript form containing 534 pages is available with us. For want of finances he could not publish it.

Maharajah Pratap Singh visited the school in August 1892. As he did not have adequate knowledge of English Munshi Sahib, under instructions of the head of the school, read the welcome address drafted by him in simple Urdu so that English audience could also understand English translation of an extract, recorded by him in unpublished Waqati Kashmir is reproduced here:

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Mercy!

Daughter!

KASHMIRI BLOGGERS

The inhabitants of the
most beautiful prison.

700,000 in Kashmir!

Kids!

CALENDER

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