Srinagar Awakes

Recently, in an interview to the Greater Kashmir, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that he had never imagined that the NC could lose in Srinagar. The constituency has been an NC stronghold since the party’s formation. The historic city has supported the Sher-e-Kashmir fully, and also opposed him vehemently. It has put up resistance, but also helped the Indian Army in 1947 to strengthen its occupation.

It may not go down well with many in Srinagar, but the fact remains that the city, led by the Sher-e-Kashmir and his deputy, Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad, arranged transport for Indian troops on their arrival in Kashmir.  It also provided guides, harassed, humiliated and crushed dissidents, and dubbed them as snakes (Pakistani agents)

Khuftan fakirs were an army of around ten thousand NC activists. Some of them are still living, and have admitted their dubious role during those fateful days. This so-called peace brigade was actually an army of informers who would report each and everything going on, and at times make arrests on their own for listening to Radio Pakistan. They would seize the radio set as well and subject people to inhuman torture.

This brigade enjoyed the patronage of the Sher-e-Kashmir, Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad and others. It indulged in abduction, rape and molestation, theft and extortion. Some of its members even hampered the administration of justice by issuing orders to judges. The first assault on the judiciary came from these unscrupulous elements.

This brigade sent its women to forward positions to `entertain’ Indian soldiers. Fellow columnists ZGM, Abdul Majid Zargar and Dr Javed Iqbal have urged me repeatedly not to write about this shameful aspect of our history. But future generations have to know how our leaders tried to achieve izzat aur aabru ka maqam for us.

After fulfilling what the Sher-e-Kashmir called a “national duty,” some of the women (names withheld) went to him with their woeful tales. His shocking reply merits a mention in history, notwithstanding the contrary opinion of our esteemed columnists:

“We have to offer sacrifices to achieve a bigger objective,” was how he silenced them. What else could he do?

On January 1, 1948 the (Kashmir) issue was taken to the United Nations. The world body passed a series of resolutions seeking a peaceful resolution of the dispute in accordance with the wishes of the people. Sheikh Abdullah appeared in the world body on behalf of the Government of India and justified New Delhi’s military action in Kashmir.

The Sher-e-Kashmir realized his mistake around 1953, but, by then, it was too late. He was arrested, and the khuftan fakirs of those times also changed loyalties. Now they started persecuting NC workers and `lesser mortals.’  This persecution continued for quite some time.

The Sher-e-Kashmir achieved izzat aur aabru ka maqam in 1975 by taking a 22-year-long movement to the altar. The sellout was celebrated by the people. Srinagar shocked the world by giving a rousing reception to a leader who had just returned after executing yet another sale deed in New Delhi.

Justifying the accord, Sheikh writes on page 837 of his autobiography:  “It was not a deviation from the basic stand. It was a change of strategy. We shifted our struggle from streets to the table.”  

 He needed people besides police to crush dissent. This time he did not create khuftan fakirs, but entrusted the job to the sur wallahs and tonga wallahs of Srinagar.

In 1984, when Dr Farooq was dismissed, his brother-in-law who had yet again `blackened the face of democracy,’ had to impose indefinite curfew in Srinagar to tame NC supporters.

Persecution of the people continued. They gave vent to their anger for the first time when the film Omar Mukhtar – Lion of Desert was screened in a Srinagar cinema. This was the turning point, and what followed is known to everyone.

Omar Abdullah has reason to feel worried. The NC has been rejected. But that does not mean that the people of Srinagar have a soft corner for other political parties. They stand for what they strived for in 1931.  Modern-day khuftan fakirs, sur wallahs and tonga wallahs cannot impose their anti-movement agenda on them.  Srinagar is next only to Kupwara so far as suffering and losses during the armed conflict are concerned.

Time and again it has been made clear that elections have no bearing on the status of the Kashmir dispute.  But the NC’s defeat is still very significant. After 76 years, Srinagar has conveyed a message. Although the PDP has New Delhi’s ashirvaad,the NC’s rout must have shaken policy-makers in North Block.  For India, it is a national loss.

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