KASHMIR’S UNSUNG HEROES: Maulana Abdul Aziz Rajourvi

Maulana Abdul Aziz was born at Rajdhani, Rajouri. After pursuing religious studies for several years, he joined the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference in 1931. His dedication and commitment made him an important member of the party, brining him very close to Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas.

When the Muslim Conference was rechristened as the National Conference in 1939, Aziz severely criticized Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, arguing that the change would have an adverse impact on the interests of Muslims. Abdullah tried his best to persuade him to accept his view, but Aziz was not convinced, and left for Delhi in 1940 for further studies at the Fatehpuri Madrasa.

He came into contact with leaders of the Muslim League and soon became its member, travelling across the country to advocate the creation of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, in Kashmir, the Muslim Conference was being revived, and Aziz attended its annual function as a delegate.

In 1946, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah launched the Quit Kashmir Movement. The Muslim Conference decided to strengthen the organization. On the instructions of Chaudhry Abbas, Aziz went to Poonch and stayed at Tradkhal with a friend, Rai Muhammad Shafi. He began preparing the people of Poonch for jihad (holy war) against Dogra rulers, and in a short span of time had the support of sixty volunteers who, despite a lack of proper arms and ammunition, expressed their determination to fight the government contingent which was more than a thousand strong.

Somehow, the Prime Minister, Ram Chandar Kak, came to know of the preparations.  Aziz was arrested and subjected to inhuman torture.

On September 17, 1948, the members of the Kashmir Commission visited the Jammu jail where Aziz was held.  At that time he was undergoing treatment at the jail hospital, and waiting eagerly for the team.  But when it left without visiting the hospital, Aziz raised pro-Pakistan slogans.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad, accompanying it was embarrassed as the slogans caught the ears of the departing team.  He said that it could be a lunatic.

But the Commission members would have none of it, and walked into the hospital, only to see an ailing Aziz.

The Deputy Prime Minister’s haughty gaze did not deter the Maulana from speaking out:

“There are more than 300 political prisoners, including two women,               languishing in the jail in a miserable condition.  They are denied medical care and proper food.  The irony is that they have been forced to live with criminals. Reports from other jails are equally disturbing. Some political prisoners have been lodged in Bahu Fort.”

After a brief pause, Aziz pointed at Bakhshi and said: “These National Conference goons have made our life miserable. They want to crush the popular sentiment. People of Jammu and Kashmir want to join Pakistan,   and that is no sin. They want to rule Kashmir at gun point.  Muslims will never tolerate that.”

Aziz took out a piece of paper from his pocket. Bakhshi tried to snatch it away, but the jailed cleric managed to hand it over to the stenographer accompanying the team.

Its members were surprised to read it.  It was a memorandum on behalf of the prisoners.

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