In his account of the government crackdown on the secret organization (known as the Hyderi Column, according to Rashid Taseer’s Tehreek-e-Hurriyat-e-Kashmir) formed in the Valley ahead of a planned military offensive by Pakistan in May 1948, Khwaja Ghulam Ali Naqui, who had also been put behind bars, further writes:
“Servants and chaukidars (at Brigadier Rahmatullah’s fruit farm where most arms recoveries had been made) were arrested, and tortured for confessions.
“One active worker of the organization, Ghulam Nabi Lala, was subjected to particularly brutal treatment by interrogators who put chilli-powder into his private parts.
“He became approver, but died a month after he adduced evidence in the court. This death occurred due to internal injuries inflicted on him by the police during torture.
“Two other approvers, Maqbool and Ghulam Hussain, also gave evidence against the accused.
“The former, who migrated to Pakistan in 1949, was killed at Mohanpura in Rawalpindi during the 1953 Qadiyani agitation. Ghulam Hussain, however, stayed back in Srinagar.
“Twenty-two of the accused were sentenced to rigorous imprisonment, ranging from 9 to 15 years, under Section 3 of the Enemy Agents Ordinance, and Section 120-B of the Penal Code (Conspiracy to Overthrow the Government established by Law) and the Arms Act.
“Fifteen others, mostly used as porters and labourers for transporting arms and ammunition, were acquitted, as were four more who had filed appeals in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
“Out of the remaining 18, thirteen of us were given an ordinary special class, with a daily allowance of Rs. 2.50 per day, on going on a hunger strike against the treatment meted out by jail authorities.
“This included the late Itikhar Ahmed, a provincial head of the Customs Department of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, who, after one year in jail, was repatriated to Pakistan where he was appointed the Director of Supplies in the Kashmir Affairs Ministry in Rawalpindi.
“He passed away in the same city.”
“We were now shifted to a room in the barracks of the Srinagar Central Jail, which previously housed its printing press. I was lodged with Khwaja Ali Muhammad, and remained there for nearly 3 years, including the period of our trial held in the prison itself under special judge Mulk Raj Gaind.
“As a ceasefire had come into force on January 1, 1949, political activity in the state restarted, and everyone expected the Security Council resolution calling for a plebiscite under UN aegis to be implemented.
“But despite the appointment of a Plebiscite Administrator, nothing substantial happened, and the Indian government repeatedly avoided carrying out the UN decision.
“The position (today) is the same as it was in 1949.”
-to be continued