On April 14, 1989, Kashmir lost a valiant soldier. He was laid to rest at Bagh-e-Mahtab. Only a few attended his funeral. By and large, people remained unaware of the great son who had just left for his eternal abode. Raja Jahangir Khan.
Raja’s ancestors belonged to Mirpur. Because of its political influence, the family had been entrusted with some important positions in the administration by the rulers of Kashmir. Jahangir assumed a new avatar when the Indian army arrived in Kashmir. Like Kashmiri Muslims, the Punjabi-speaking Muslims hated Indian rule in the state. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, who played the typical Zulchu in those fateful days, did not like dissidents. Every possible step was taken to persecute them.
Some were externed, some had to migrate to various parts of Pakistan or Pakistan-administered-Kashmir (PaK). Jahangir’s family also was forced to migrate to Pakistan. Some members of his family were banished, and those who stayed back could not digest the arrangement, and worked for the liberation of Kashmir.
Fort several years, Jahangir tried to mobilize public opinion. In 1948, a militant outfit, the Hyderi Column, was launched. Jahangir Khan of Bagh-e-Mahtab was one of its founders. Very few people know about the role of this valiant soldier of Kashmir. But noted historian Rashid Taseer makes a detailed mention of him in his Tehreek-e-Hurriyat-e-Kashmir. (Vol 4, page 133)
According to Taseer, “the outfit (Hyderi Column) was launched by people from across the cease-fire line. Arms and ammunition were smuggled into the Valley through Raja Ahsan and Raja Ataullah of Zachaldara. Jahangir played a vital role in its formation. However, for some time he remained silent. Meanwhile, an ex-serviceman, Jalal, was entrusted the job of imparting training to the members of the outfit. The police came to know about some ammunition dumped at Zachaldara through one Muhammad Husain. Ahsan and Ataullah were arrested. The police also came to know about arms and ammunition stored in the house of Brigadier Rahmatullah Khan of Doodh Pathri. Khan wrote a letter to Jahangir urging him to facilitate Jalal’s border crossing. He took him to Pakistan-administered-Kashmir and handed him over to Pakistan army. The army officer who received them was highly impressed by Jahangir’s courage and conviction. He requested him to get all members of the Hyderi Column to Azad Kashmir. He crossed the border several times in this connection. When Ataullah Khan’s house at Doodh Pathri was searched, Jahangir Khan and another member of the outfit were there. However, they evaded arrest and went across the border.”
According to family sources, Jahangir was implicated in the infamous Kashmir Conspiracy Case along with Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. “It was a false charge as Jahangir was in detention during those days for dumping arms and ammunition at Reyar,” they said.
Jahangir never made any mention of the inhuman torture he was subjected to in state-run torture chambers. It was only after his release that his family saw the marks of violence on his body. “The government tried its best to persuade Jahangir to be a witness against Sheikh Abdullah, but he refused. This only added to his woes, but he did not succumb.”
Jahangir remained in perpetual detention. One of the cases against him was filed on June 23, 1964, under Section 3 of the Enemy Agents Ordinance, for procuring “deadly bombs to destabilize the government.” The case was finally dismissed on May 30, 1968. The verdict of the court reflects how Jahangir was persecuted by involving him in fictitious cases.
The learned judge held: “I have gone through the evidence adduced by the prosecution. None of the prosecution witnesses has supported the prosecution story. In fact there is nothing on record to show that any prosecution witness had referred to a conspiracy to which the accused was a party. There is no material on file on the basis of which it can be proved that the accused was responsible for import of explosive material from Pakistan into the territory of state with the intention of subverting the government established by law. The prosecution has not been able to produce any explosive material although a number of opportunities were given to prosecution for this purpose and a number of letters were addressed to the concerned authorities in this behalf. I am of the opinion that the prosecution has failed to bring home the guilt of the accused. This is not a case in which, in my opinion, any charge is required to be framed against the accused.”
When Sheikh Abdullah signed the infamous Indira-Abdullah Accord in 1975, he urged Jahangir to join him in his new pursuit. Jahangir flatly refused, and termed the Sheikh’s new posture as the beginning of awaragardi (waywardness) rather than izzat-o-aabru ka maqaam (a place of honour and dignity).