By M J Aslam
The conversion of MC into NC permanently split the unity of Muslim community of Kashmir and “responsible for this tragic schism was none other than the popular Lion of Kashmir, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.” (13) In Kashmir, the ground for such factionalism was already very fertile as there were deep ideological fissures between followers of Molvi M Yousuf Shah and Molvi Ahmedullah Hamdani, on the one hand, and secular-liberal-communist leaders and orthodox Muslim leaders of the MC, on the other hand. His (SMA) greatest fault was that he was “not given to deep thinking” (14) to bridge these gaps by continuing with his original party (MC) that was holding these sectarian groups together in the name of Islam.
A Not-far-sighted decision laid the foundation for birth of the tragedy called “Kashmir” under the garb of socio-political awakening as, at that time, it was easy to lead overwhelmingly illiterate, naïve and poor masses of Kashmir down the garden lane. The secularisation of the movement widened the gulf of the political ideologies of the above-mentioned groups which resulted only in frequent clashes between them much to the pleasure of the Maharaja Administration and non-Muslims. The irony is that despite changing his mien from bearded-Muslim to non-bearded-Muslim and taking of his red fez from his head (15) were not enough to convince his non-Muslim party-men about his “non-communal” abd “secular credentials”. They were by nature very reactionary wanting him “do more” to prove his real intention of having secularised the Kashmir-Movement.
We may mention here an important event that took place after formation of NC when it could not hold Milad procession in Srinagar till 1940 when it was finally held on 24th April of that year for the first time after NC -formation. Addressing the rally, SMA compared Islam with the sun and other religions with the stars. This comparison spun the minds of Kashmiri Pandit leaders of NC so much so that they said that SMA meant by his statement actually victory of Islam over other religions especially over their own Brahmanism; which was unacceptable to them. They raised a storm of protest and condemned SMA as “rank communalist” who under the garb of nationalism still wanted to establish “Muslim Raj” in J&K.
Later, on 30th April 1940 , Jia Lal Kilm and Kahyap Badhu, two prominent Pandit leaders, resigned from NC in protest. (16) Likewise, Kashmiri Pandit leaders of NC displayed their too reactionary communal behaviour again on 08-5-1944 when in a public rally at Pratap Park Srinagar that was held in honour of M A Jinnah jointly by NC and MC workers, prominent NC Pandit leader Jia Lal Kilm walked away from the rally along with his other Pandit friends from the stage. The reason for their protest was that SMA in his speech had repeatedly used the phrase “popular leader of Indian Muslims” for M A Jinnah who responded that the praise was for his party ML and not for him which put them (Pandits) on frying pan of communal intolerance. (17)
The process for conversion of MC into NC was formally initiated in January-March 1938 , in Jammu, before it culminated in final formation of NC on 11-12 June, 1939 in Srinagar. This change was supported by orthodox Muslim leaders like Choudhary Ghulam Abbas who in 1941 feeling ditched by SMA parted with NC , rejoined and rejuvenated MC. He bore a lot of criticism from his fellow Muslim leaders of MC for joining and supporting NC. But, in his autobiography, Choudhary Ghulam Abbas has mentioned that before party-change was effected, several conditions were “agreed” between him and SMA which, inter alia, included that “SMA will not own Congress politics nor will he support the Congress in any case…and that SMA shall never oppose in any manner whatsoever the Muslim League as being the only Muslim representative body of the Muslims of India…” (18) Kashmakash was published in 1950 , while as Blazing Chinar was published more than three decades later. It was binding on SMA to refute that there was never such “agreement” between him and Ch Gh Abbas.
It may not be out of place to mention here that SMA has written the foreword to a Ph.d thesis of Gh Hassan Khan first published in 1980 and republished in 2009 by Gulshan Books Srinagar under the title “Freedom Movement of Kashmir from 1931-1940”. In this book, the same conditions have been repeated by the author which prima facie proves, therefore, Ch Gh Abbas correct in what he had written long before about the agreed conditions.
Tailpiece: Foregoing shows that SMA decision of renaming MC as NC on secular & Indian national lines failed to create any imprint on the minds of or make any appeal for non-Muslims of the State as they were more interested in Indian national parties than NC. Previously, it was Congress and now it is BJP and RSS to whom they are looking for fulfillment of their socio-political-cultural-economic aspirations.
SMA on 13th July, 1953 before three mammoth public gatherings, one by one, at Naqshband Sahib, Jamia Masjid and Shahi Masjid Srinagar, openly admitted his political blunders of 1939 & 1947. (20)
13) Danger in Kashmir (1954) Josef Korbel, page 20; 14) Indian Express dated 10th Sept., 1982 under the caption “Lion in the garden of Kashmir” cited in Kashmir Cries for Justice (1994) by Ex CJ of JK High Court, Mufti Bahau Ud Din Farooqi, at page 19; 15) Qudratullah Shab, Shahabnama (2016) page 373 ; 16) M Y Saraf’s Kashmiris-Fight-For Freedom (2009) volume 1 pages 542-543; 17) Kashmir Ink dated 28-03-2016; 18) Kashmakash, Ch Gh Abbas, (1950, reprinted edition of 2017) page 178;19) The Ranbir Weekly Jammu, 28-03-1938 page 12; Gh Hassan Khan ‘s Freedom Movement (2009) page 356 ; 20) Memoirs of M M Isaaq , Nid e Haq, (2016) pages 249-251.
—To be Continued..
—The author can be reached at: Views expressed are solely the author’s. He can be reached at: [email protected]