KASHMIR’S UNSUNG HEROES: Mir Abdul Aziz – I

Born at Rambagh in Srinagar in 1924, Mir Abdul Aziz started his education from a school in neighbouring Natipora, passed his matriculation from the SP School, and graduated from the Amar Singh College.

During his college days he wrote for the Weekly Millat and the Jawahar published from Srinagar. This was the time when Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah visited Kashmir. Mir met him and was greatly influenced by his vision. He later joined the weeklyHamdard edited by Prem Nath Bazaz.

Mir’s venture in the field of journalism only added to his enthusiasm, and he joined the Muslim Conference, becoming a top aide of Molvi Muhammad Yusuf Shah.

On August 14, 1947, when Pakistan was born, Mir delivered a fiery speech at the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar. It was also the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadhan and people from every nook and corner of the Valley had assembled in the mosque, whom he urged to celebrate the creation of the new nation.

In 1947 when Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah managed the show for New Delhi in Kashmir, a warrant was issued for Mir’s arrest. But he evaded the police and went underground.  Finally, Mir was forced to migrate to Pakistan administered Kashmir.

He became the general secretary of the Muslim Conference but was imprisoned for several months for criticizing the Pakistan’s government’s Kashmir policy.

When released, he started his own newspaper, the weekly Insaaf, which he used to strengthen Kashmir’s liberation struggle. He also edited the weekly Times of Kashmir, and his articles would often be reproduced by English newspapers published from Srinagar.

One day, an operative from some intelligence agency walked into the office of the Greater Kashmir, which had probably carried a piece by Mir, as asked for the writer’s address. The sleuth was taken aback when told that he lived in Pak-administered-Kashmir.

Regardless of the awards the Pakistan government conferred on him, Mir never compromised on his stand on Kashmir. He would express himself without reservation much to the annoyance of authorities.   After the 1965 war when the Pakistan president, General Ayub Khan, and his foreign ministry officials, including the late Zulifkar Ali Bhutto, shifted the blame for the failure of Operation Gibraltar to the people of Kashmir, Mir came out openly to defend the Kashmiris.

-to be continued