By M.J. Aslam
First organised political party of Kashmir Muslims formed on 16-10-1932 was Muslim Conference (MC) of which Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah (SMA) was made first President. After completing his M. Sc. in Chemistry from AMU , he was appointed as a science teacher in Govt MP High School, Khan Kahi e Movla.
Decade before in 1922 was set up first organised predominantly religious , less political, party of Jammu Muslims and it was named “Young Men’s Muslim Association”. It was like Tableeg e Jamaat doing reformation work among Muslims. The reformation work done by that party for the Muslims of Jammu , especially Hindu dominated few districts, is considerably huge and beyond words. In those areas of Jammu , Muslims used to keep idols and images of Hindu Gods/Goddesses in their homes for worship. They were totally ignorant of their religion as no one from Muslim clergy had been visiting them since decades to educate them about their religion and its actual practices and duties. “Young Men’s Muslim Association” did a marvelous job of bringing reformation, awareness and education among the Muslim population there.
SMA met Chowdhury Gh Abbas at Jammu in 1930 and desired to set up a unit of “Young Men’s Muslim Association” in Kashmir, too. It was readily accepted by CG Abbas who was the head of that party that time. After setting up branch of that party at Srinagar , SMA started highlighting pathetic condition of Muslims of Kashmir in his public speeches for which he was dismissed from service by the MHS’ s Government.
In 1932, following the massacre of 36 Muslims outside Central Jail Srinagar on 13-07-1931,JK MC was formed and created jointly by all Muslim Leaders of JK for fighting for the rights of Muslims of JK who were ONLY sufferers of Dogra Despotic rule for years. Albeit, it is a reality that YMM Conference of Jammu was born decade ago in 1922 to highlight miserable plight of Muslims there. In this way, both MC and YMMA, had a common objective of highlighting pathetic plight of JK Muslims by the Dogra Monarchs and fighting for achieving basic human rights and freedoms of Muslims of JK who constituted almost 90% population of the State.
Tragedy: SMA with his close accomplice hijacked the objectives of both erstwhile YMM Conference of Jammu and newly formed Muslim Alliance of JK/ MC in 1939 by converting it to National Conference (NC). Those who had accepted him first in YMM Conference and then elevated and appointed him in JK MC as its First President , introduced him to the people of J & K, in a way bringing him from nowhere to somewhere, they all, later became the worst sufferers at his ( SMA) hands. Prominent among the persecuted n suffered were: CG Abbas, Mawlana Yousuf Shah, GN Gilkar, Gh Ahmad Ashai, Saadu ud Din Shawl and many others. He was supported in this Diabolical Mission by the MHS , his Police and Indian Leaders. We may call OUTSIDERS (of Kashmir). BUT the role that was played by INSIDERS (of Kashmir) is by no means insignificant, inconsiderable and ignorable. Their constant backing, persuading and encouraging him in his Mission-Secular changed and directed his mind from Right to Wrong. The question is : Who were they ? Why they did it?
Those INSIDERS or local accessories who altered mind of SMA from MC to NC could be grouped into three , though they were minnows among Kashmiri population :
(1) Communists like G M Sadiq, Mir Qasim, DP Dhar and Co,.
(2) Pandits like PN Bazaz , Jia Lal Kilm, Kashyap Bandhu, Budh Singh (Jammu based Sikh affiliated to INC long before joining NC
and others. But it has to be remembered that the few Pandits who had seemingly joined hands with NC were not representing the general sentiments and aspirations of Kashmiri Pandit Community as their allegiance was knowingly always towards INC. The K-Pandits or Batas were known for their sectarian activities in Kashmir. The few Pandit leaders associated with NC were outcasts in their own community. They lacked representative character of their community.
(3) Hamdaniya religious group of Muslims of Srinagar who had inbuilt hatred and age old animosity towards Mirwaiz Khandaan of Kashmir who were undisputed Mirwaizs ( Muslim Clergy) of Kashmir since centuries .”Mirwaiz’ s word was binding on Kashmiris and to go against it was considered sin. SMA was fortunate enough that Mirwaiz e Kashmir MM Yousuf had accepted him in his patronage. ” ( Kashmakash, Ch GH Abbas, (1950, reprinted edition of 2017) page 68. ” “Many Kashmiri leaders, including the Mir Waiz M. Yusuf Shah (of great influence among the Srinagar Sunnis), were profoundly suspicious of Sheikh Abdullah, who was seen not only to be set on his own aggrandizement but also to be of suspect theological orthodoxy (especially in the matter of the Ahmadiya community)” (Alaister Lamb, Birth of a Tragedy, (edition 1994) page 69).
Mirwaizs were also followers of main Hanafi School of thought in JK. But their main seat of preaching and advancing political ideas was confined to Jamia Masjid of Srinagar which continues to be so till date. On the other hand, Hamdaniya Group, though non organised and less acknowledged as Mirwaizs of Kashmir, had control of “major shrines of Kashmir” like Dargah Hazratbal, Khan Kahi Movla , Char e Sharief, Baba Reshi , Kaileshpora, Naqasband Sahib, etc. They exploited the whole situation in their own favour as maximum Kashmiris who were that time illiterate , poor and very simple , and even not much well versed with the Foundations of Islam, used to visit these shrines out of their deep Aqeedat (veneration) towards them . While Mirwaizs were well known for their “pro Green Ideology”, Hamdaniya , a small group of Shrine Maintainers, wanted to come to the limelight by defeating and denigrating Mirwaiz Khandaan. Thus, to achieve the hidden target, they levelled baseless and unfounded allegations against Mirwaiz e Kashmir who later became President of “Azad Kashmir” or PAK till his demise . Here a simple question arises. If he was a bribe-taker, supporter of MHS, how could he be honoured and sheltered in PAK when they had been fighting MHS Forces in Kashmir. How could a traitor be wecome in that part of Kashmir ? Mirwaiz is the first Mufasir e Quran in Kashmiri language, to be noted.
So, in their anxiety to come to the fore in political scenario of Kashmir that was emerging and developing, the Hamdaniya Group supported SMA just to overthrow so called age old “religious hegemony” of Mirwaiz Khandaan in Kashmir. It worked in their favour as SMA was relentlessly spewing out venom against Mirwaiz , MC leaders and finally against the very idea of 2 Nation theory and its propounders before the huge gatherings of devotees who used to visit and assemble there at these shrines. But ultimately all these acts of Hamdaniya Group threw back Muslims of JK permanently into ta deep dry well of a non Muslim Hindu Majoritarian rule.
I may conclude with following lines of one of the closest associates of SMA at that time. He writes : ” Irony is that SMA did not make MHS flee from Kashmir ( on dawn of 26-10-1947) . Rather, he supported and assisted MHS to return to his lost thrown. Sma is responsible , thus, for depriving the nation of JK of the blessing of freedom from 400 years foreign rule . The freedom that was door step away from JK. It clearly shows what is called “Is Ghar Ko Aag Lage Is Ghar Ke Chirag Say”. Lacs of Muslims were killed. Fifteen lacs were forced to migrate to Azad Kashmir and some parts of Pakistan”. ( Nid e Haq, Munshi M, Isaaq, ( 2014 edition), page 188).