Molvi Abdullah Vakil drafted a letter congratulating the Maharaja. In his letter, Vakil urged the Maharaja to take measures for changing the lives of the people.
The Maharaja responded with a letter of thanks. This letter was used by the Vakil, Naseer and Bashir for persuading the people to come out of their shells.
The letter had an impact. People were made to believe that the Maharaja himself wanted some changes. It had a good effect on their psyche.
Meanwhile, the daughter-in-law of a shopkeeper, Hasan Peer, who lived in the neighborhood of Molvi Abdullah Vakil, passed away. The shopkeeper’s brother, Muhammad Sikander, worked in the Telegraph office.
He was a close friend of Bashir and Naseer. The duo persuaded him to allow them to host the rasam-e-qul of the deceased. Sikander was told about the plan. He agreed. Bashir and Naseer wrote more than one hundred letters to various people. On May 8, 1930, the rasam-e-qul was hosted at Mohallah Haji Rather’s Sum, Kachgari Masjid in Fatheh Kadal area.
The duo spent rupees nine on tea and snacks, which was offered to the invitees. Sheikh Abdullah, who had returned from Aligarh on April 12, 1930, did not attend the meeting. The meeting was informed about the cause. An open invitation was extended to all to join hands. Three people—Ghulam Nabi Gilkar, Muhammad Yahaya Rafique and Muhammad Rajab (MA LLB)— joined the Reading Room party at the meeting.
Prior to the meeting, a well-known personality, Khawaja Saad-ud-Din Shawl, was externed by the Maharaja for political reasons. The people, therefore, understood the importance of keeping the valuable secret.
The five-man army now decided to work in every nook and corner of the Valley. Munshi was told to go to the rural areas and the rest were tasked with working in Srinagar.
The Reading Room was running smoothly. People from all walks of life would go to the Room. Some people even played chess and Chausar there. Soon it dawned on them that it was not doing any good to the movement. The unscrupulous elements were told not to enter the Room.
The Reading Room Party realized it needed a leader for its mass contact programme. Munshi Naseer knew Sheikh Abdullah and had met him during a function at Lahore College where Sheikh pursued his BSc. At the function, Munshi had heard Sheikh recite a Naa’t in a melodious voice.
The hunt for Sheikh Abdullah began. Sheikh was a teacher in a Government High School and refused to become part of the Reading Room Party, but Munshi Naseer and Ghulam Nabi Gilkar did not lose heart.
They kept on meeting him and, finally, when Sheikh was transferred to Muzaffarabad, he resigned and became a member of the Reading Room Party. Many people including Muhammad Amin Qureshi had joined the party till then. (To be continued)