During this wide-ranging interview in 2007, Muhammad Yusuf Khan fondly recalled Jia Lal Chaudhary, a Pandit lawyer, who had virtually become the sole legal defence of beleaguered Muslim Conference (MC) workers.
Pakistani Pandit: But for this “Pakistani Batta” hundreds of MC workers would have been condemned unheard. While a group of lawyers was always ready to provide legal help for detained National Conference (NC) workers, those of the MC had only Chaudhary to defend them in the courts. He was very close to the Mirwaiz family, and pleaded the cases free of cost.
This association also earned him the name Leaguei Batta (a Pandit with Muslim League inclinations).
“Jia Lal Chaudhary was an efficient lawyer and would always remain at the disposal of the MC,” Khan said. “He always had a smile on his lips, and political workers would repose trust in him without hesitation.”
Khan’s key role in re-introducing the Muslim Conference in the Valley in the early 40s earned him the ire of the National Conference.
Living then in Kani Kadal, he had around 35 cousins and second-cousins to support him and his associates.
National Conference workers, therefore, found it difficult to deal with him through their more direct methods.
“So, they devised a subtle way to harass me and my party men. Fictitious cases were filed against us at several places in the Valley. I was a college student then and would face great difficulty in getting to the courts in time for hearings.”
“On one occasion, the court had forfeited our bail bonds and issued non-bailable warrants against us all. I arrived late, and was perturbed, like the others, when told of the warrant. We were unable to decide what to do. And lo and behold, we saw Jia Lal walking up with a smile. We could not make out how he had come to know, but were immensely relieved to see him.
“He asked us to wait and not to enter the (court)room unless he called.
“When I and my associates were asked to step in after some time, the presiding officer took a close look at us and said that he had dismissed the case. And that cases against us in other courts would also be dismissed.”
“Later, Jia Lal informed us of what had transpired between him and the presiding officer.
“He had told the presiding officer that we were students and had been falsely involved in the cases by NC workers. The complainants had made the court believe that we were anti-social elements creating law-and-order problems for the government.”