Titbit 46 – From Abdullah To Sher-i-Kashmir continued

P.N.Bazaz published a 168 page book titled Kashmir Ka Gandhi in Urdu in the year 1935. The book relates to the life and works of S.M.Abdullah till June 1935. The author in the initial pages of the book refers to the Sheikh as ‘ Sher-i-kashmir’ in bold letters.

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In 1928 ” Inqilab ” was published in Urdu from Lahore. It was edited by Abdul Majid Saliq and Ghulam Rasool Meher. Both were pupil of Allama Iqbal.

مھر و سالک دو ایڈیٹر انقلاب اخبار ایک

The newspaper in a brief period came into limelight and earned lot of respectability. In spite of weak communication the paper was giving adequate coverage to Kashmir. On the initiative of Allama Iqbal ‘ Kashmir Day ‘ was observed at All India level on 16 August 1931. It was in August Inqilab first time published the following:

اے ھری سنگہ أواز ے پیکار سے ڈر 
شیر کشمیر کے تکبیر شرر بار سے ڑر

Beware of confrontation O Hari Singh
Cower the roars the Lion will bring

However it took initial few years to popularize ‘Sheri Kashmir’ and eventually became a household name. Bi-Weekly Sadaqat was started in March 1933 as official organ of All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference. It was banned by then District Magistrate for one year and later the publication was resumed. The paper should have profusely used Sheri Kashmir which did not happen.

P.N.Bazaz published a 168 page book titled Kashmir Ka Gandhi in Urdu in the year 1935. The book relates to the life and works of S.M.Abdullah till June 1935. The author in the initial pages of the book refers to the Sheikh as ‘ Sher-i-kashmir’ in bold letters. There are more than half a dozen references of acronym ‘Sheri Kashmir’ in the book. Probably Bazaz may have picked it up from “Inqilab” Lahore, a paper used to reach Srinagar through passengers travelling from Lahore to Kashmir.

Relevant to the topic is a story that one Hargopal Koul ‘ Khasta’, a resident of Shari Khas, remained controversial all through his life. He was well educated and served as a middle rung officer in the Dogra government. In 1880 he wrote an interesting book in Urdu titled ” Gulza-i-Kashmir” on historical events. He was ardent crusader against cow slaughter. It was alleged that he had indulged in desecration of Holy Quran in the vicinity of Rajouri Kadal. Protests and demonstrations by Kashmiri Muslims were spontaneous. The Maharaja ordered his arrest and Har Gopal was interned in Babu Jail, Jammu in 1898. While in Jail, within one year, he dug a tunnel and staged his escape and reached Lahore in 1899. During same year he assumed the name of ‘ Sheri Kashmir obviously given by Kashmiri Pandits. While in Lahore he started an Urdu newspaper which he used as a propaganda tool against the Maharaja. During those days folk singers would sing on the streets of Srinagar.

ُ بداُوس ھر کون رد کرین کار جانکی ھیتھ کورکھ پیر و پار

One eyed Har’s evil rejected piety
That with Janki earned him exile’s ferocity

(Har Gopal had an defective eye and Janki was his brother)

At this stage Sheri Kashmir could not become popular for obvious reasons. Har Gopal had no majority acceptability. He had a baggage of desecration of Quran and preferred exile. So therefore one may say that Sheri Kashmir is a borrowed phrase.
I acknowledge the In-puts and assistance given by Mr M.Y.Taing, scholar & writter and Prof Syed Habib, a respected name and man of letters.

Titbit 46 – From Abdullah to Sher-i-Kashmir

With the passage of time during public exposure he got introduced as Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah. Within a few days of his imprisonment the Sheikh came to be known as Sheri Kashmir

Mohamed Abdullah, a post graduate from Aligarh Muslim University, was denied a job as a lecturer in S.P.College and instead Prof. Zutshi ( r/o Rainawari) was given preference in 1930. Abdullah was absorbed as a teacher and posted to Muzafarabad which job he gave up after sometime. He came to be known as Master Abdullah. That was the time when Master Abdullah started his political activities though initially covertly. ‘Reading Room’ overwhelmed by young men was the most important forum for exchange of ideas and political inter-action. With the passage of time during public exposure he got introduced as Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah. Within a few days of his imprisonment the Sheikh came to be known as Sheri Kashmir, writes M. Yousuf Saraf in his book Kashmiris Fight For Freedom Vol 1 ( pp 391). In Srinagar there were a few leaders of public opinion such as Khwaja Saad -u- Din Shawl, Molvi Mohammed Abdullah ( Advocate) and Munshi Shahab-u-din etc who were sincere at heart but lacked leadership qualities. The people saw S.M.Abdullah as man of the hour and realized his capabilities to create a national awakening among Kashmiris. Yousuf Saraf further adds “so after his arrest on 14 July, through the efforts of these leaders, the Sheri Kashmir slogan was taken up so spontaneously by the people that within weeks, the whole valley was resounding with it.” Saraf further writes that in the wake of firing at Handwara on 7 Feb, 1932 in which 27 locals were killed and 40 injured, S.M.Abdullah, after sometime visited Handwara and during a mamoth public meeting Sofi Akbar introduced him as Sheri Kashmir.

Desecration of Holy Quran incident at Jammu had triggered wide spread anger and protests in Kashmir. (Refer earlier write ups). During early June 1931 a public meeting was held at Khanqahi Moula. Apart from other leaders, Moulana Zafar Ali Khan, editor of Zamindar, Lahore was also present on the stage. He was keenly watching S.M.Abdullah’s body movements, delivery of speech and demonstration of valor and extraordinary courage and the words ” Sher-i-Kashmir” spontaneously came out from his mouth, writes Rasheed Taseer in his book  Tehreeki Hurriat Kashmir Vol 1. This assertion, however, has not been accepted by Pir Afzal Mukhdoomi while commenting on Taseer’s book.

Like other parts of the sub-continent hero worshiping is a trait of Kashmiri race. Manipulators and innocent masses around him, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah in a short period rose to the heights of fame. Stories were fabricated which could not withstand the test of wisdom. Folklore were written providing ostensible means of living for folk singers.

Earlier we had heard Sher-i-Punjab ( Lala Lajpat Rai ) and Sher-i-Bengal ( Ch. Fazalul Haq, Prime Minister of Bengal). In Kashmir we also kept the pace and generously coined epithets. Apart from Sheri Kashmir, Fakhri Kashmir, Khalid Kashmir, Mufakiri Kashmir, Bulbul-i-Kashmir and Aftabi Kashmir etc are still fresh in our memory. The general perception in Kashmir remains that ‘ Sher-i-Kashmir’ was innovation of Moulana Masoodi but facts are quite contrary.

To be continued….

Titbit 45 – Sher-Bakra Feud Part 3

Disorder, disturbance and vandalism was writ large. Scores of people got injured. Clashes spread to nearby areas. Almost entire city was involved.

Continued from Titbit 43 – Genesis of “Sher-Bakra” Feud

The enquiry committee comprising of representatives of both communities reached to the conclusion that both communities had suffered during communal clashes which was a cause of concern for the leadership. On 1 October 1932 there was a rumour that during the communal clashes five Hindus had lost their lives. To heel the wounds and as a goodwill gesture Pandits of Rainawari initiated steps towards reconciliation and both communities joint ‘Langar’ was organised at Rainawari.

Acrimony between the Mirwaiz and Abdullah continued unabated. Followers of Mirwaiz came to be called “Yousuf Shahi” and supporters of Sheikh Abdullah assumed the name of “Abdullahi”. Kashmir Committee in Lahore suggested and conveyed to formation of Muslim Conference to channelise the agitation, create a platform and bring the warring groups (Sher and Bakra) under one banner. Earlier decision to form a party and name it Muslim Conference was taken in the Central Jail, Srinagar in the course of discussion between Moulana Masoodi and S.M.Abdullah while both were interned, writes M. Yousuf Saraf in his book ” Kashmiris Fight For Freedom” (pp 482). According to M.D.Taseer, All India Kashmir Committee was largely responsible for this decision. It was decided to name the organisation as the “All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference “. The inaugural session was held on 14, 15 and 16 October 1932 at Pather Masjid, Srinagar. Molvi Yousuf Shah also participated in the session. There were enormous preparations made for the success of this event and participation of representatives of various regions of the State was ensured. S.M.Abdullah took over as President of this joint platform.
Truce between Abdullah and Mirwaiz was short-livid. Immediately after the Sheikh returned back to Kashmir from tour of planes, he delivered venomous speech against the Mirwaiz in January 1933 at Khanqahi Moula, Srinagar. Mirwaiz also continued his compaign against the Abdullahis. Allegations of embezzlement of funds collected by the workers were leveled by both sides against each other.

YousufShah

Kashmiri Pandits continued to organise and consolidate the community. On 17 February 1933 first publication of “Martand” edited by Kashap Bandhu hit the stands. On 7 March another newspaper “Sadaqat” was published, edited by Abdul Raheem. In the meanwhile Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah and Mirwaiz Hamdani accelerated thier politico-religious activities. To keep the two religious preachers (arch rivals) at bay the governor intervened and earmarked Eidgah to Hamdani and Jamia Masjid to Molvi Yousuf Shah for religious preaching. Both observed the order in breach. On 6 April,1933 Yousuf Shah went to Eidgah and Hamdani accompanied by 4-500 Lathi weilding followers reached the Jamia. It was free for all and violence marred the sanctity of the place. Disorder, disturbance and vandalism was writ large. Scores of people got injured. Clashes spread to nearby areas. Almost entire city was involved. Hapless people and pedestrians were mercilessly beaten and many houses and shops looted.

During first week of April 1933 a large gathering at Pather Masjid resolutely demanded to the govt that religious preaching be banned. Around same time Mirwaiz Hamdani was assaulted at Jamia Masjid. The police reached on spot and extricated him from the grand mosque. Sectarian riots again broke out in the city. On 8 April 1933 the governor imposed ban on religious preaching for two months. Both Molvis were ordered to be bound down on a bail of Rupees one thousand. Hamdani filed the bail bond but Yousuf Shah resisted and was consequently arrested on 27 April. The Mirwaiz was released on 3 May 1933 and was dropped at his residence in an official car which created suspicion and controversy.
On the other side during first week of May, 1933 at village Kanikoot, a scenic place, 17 Kms from Chadoora ( dist.Budgam), a house belonging to two Pandit brothers locally known as Naths was set on fire during night hours. All inmates except an adolescent girl and a local Muslim domestic aide were charred to death. This incident evoked strong protests by Pandits and Sheetal Nath Srinagar once again got activated as focus of protests.

On 5 May 1933 Sheikh Abdullah made a thunderous speech before a huge gathering at Pather Masjid and lambasted Kashmiri Pandits and Yousuf Shahis. He also targeted some prominent and rich individuals and declared that all these people had ganged up and are playing role as traitors. In second week of May it was announced by Molvi Yousuf Shah in Jamia Masjid that Mirza Mahmood had resigned from Kashmir committee which was later on confirmed by S.M.Abdullah in a public meeting at Lattar Masjid, Srinagar on 21 May. Mirza Mahmood’s presence in Kashmir committee was an irritant to the Mirwaiz. Abdullah again offered his hand of friendship to the Mirwaiz. It was perhaps too little too late.

During last days of May 1933 internecine slugfest and clashes again errupted at many places in Shari Khas. One Khalil Wani, a die hard supporter of Abdullah, was stabed to death near Nalbandpora, Srinagar (quoted from books of Peer Afzal Mukhdoomi and Rashid Taseer). Abdullah led the funeral procession of several thousand mourners. This was the first death of Sher-Bakra feud. In retaliation the opposite party caught hold of a pedestrian, a ‘Bakra’, near Zainakadal and drowned him in the river. The followers of Yousuf Shah were dominated and beaten in this round. The coming days saw more gruesome clashes. Both groups indulged in beating, looting and indiscriminate violent activities. The govt. forces suddenly woke up and large scale arrests were effected. Among the arrested were many prominent persons. However Abdullah initially evaded arrest but was later taken into custody on 31 May at Khanqahi Moula.

Molvi Yousuf Shah and Sheikh Abdullah had reached to a point of no return and thus majority population in Srinagar got vertically divided. Mirwaiz in his political ambition formed a separate platform under the name ” Azad Muslim Conference”.The first meeting of this new political party was held at the residence of Abdullah Bassu at M.R.Gunj. Initially the name proposed by Salam Parimoo was Muslim League but after threadbare discussion Sofi Ahmad’s proposed name “Azad Muslim Conference” was approved by the Mirwaiz.

Within less than two years of uprising, pathetically, the division between ‘Sher and Bakra’ knocked out the sting from formidable unity of Kashmiri Muslims which changed the course of otherwise determined but peaceful freedom movement.

(Sher-Bakra Feud Concluded ).

Titbit 44 – Sher-Bakra Feud Part 2

By mid August 1932 the law and order situation in Srinagar had worsened due to series of clashes and violence between two warring groups. Amid clashes between two groups wise and sincere individuals continued with attempts to resolve differences of the two leaders.

Massacre of 13 July 1931 outside Srinagar Central Jail ignited a wave of protests and demonstrations all over the valley and the govt forces responded with brute force to quell the uprising. The exemplary unity shown by various shades of society gave considerable momentum to the unrest. An indigenous movement for emancipation was born. But it was destined to not last for long. Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah and Molvi Yousuf Shah contracted discord. On 12 November, 1931 Glancy Commission’s recommendations were submitted to E.J.D. Colin (who had replaced Hari Krishen Kaul as Prime Minister) on 22 March 1932. Notwithstanding uneasy calm for some time these recommendations ultimately proved to be a watershed on the political landscape of the State. The entire population of J&K was resentful and all sections of the society unhesitatingly expressed their displeasure, anger and dismay. Fragmentation of social fibre gave birth to multiple organisations and groups – every group claiming its victimhood at the hands of Dogra rulers particularly Glancy Commission. To list out the politico-religious outfits and groups it is important to mention few of them:

  1. Molvi Yousuf Shah and his follower
  2. Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah and his supporters
  3. Respectables of Kashmir
  4. Sanatam Dharam Sabha
  5. Group of prominent persons from Punjab
  6. Young Men’s Muslim Association, Jammu
  7. Anjuman Ikhwat-ul-Islam (Molvi Mohammed Saadat)
  8. Young Men’s Muslim Association (Abdul Raheem) Srinagar
  9. Anjuman Imamia Srinagar
  10. Nomayandigaan J&K (Representatives)
  11. Molvi Ghulam Nabi Mubariki and his followers
  12. Anjuman Itihadul Muslimeen, Srinagar
  13. Anjuman Hamdard Islam (President Molvi Abdullah), and so on.

Everyone wore his belief (religious or political) on his sleeves. The state of discord between the Mirwaiz and Abdullah galvanised two powerful groups. Both spent days and nights to consolidate their supporters for a showdown. While as youth of Jammu were getting organised, Pandits in Kashmir came out in the open with their own demands. In May 1932 Pandits started an open campaign against the recommendations of Glancy Commission. As a result Kashap Bandhu, a Kashmiri pandit leader, was arrested. On 6&7 May 1932 Pandits congregated at Sheetal Nath, Srinagar to protest against the arrest of Kashap Bandhu. Protest demonstrations and processions continued during May 1932 and government’s response by effecting arrests of Kashmiri Pandits followed at different places in Srinagar.

On 6 June 1932 Abdullah was released from Jail which was followed by a public meeting at Khanqahi Moula, Srinagar. Abdullah in his speech before an impressive gathering stressed for unity. But division of the society had caused huge damage. Processions in Srinagar in support of the Mirwaiz had become a daily routine. Amidst strong division of society in Srinagar, some wise individuals got their concern registered and made attempts at rapprochement between the two leaders but to no avail. On 22 June 1932 a prominent Punjabi namely Sheikh Mohammed Sadiq Amratsari made sincere effort to bring the two leaders together which too yeilded no results.

During July 1932 feud between the Mirwaiz followers and Sheikh Abdullah supporters resulted in multiple clashes in Srinagar in which dozens were injured. On 6 August 1932 the Mirwaiz declared in Jamia Masjid, Srinagar that compromise was ruled out till the Ahmadis are not separated from on going movement. On 12 August Sheikh Abdullah opened up another front by speaking against Kashap Bandhu and gave a stern warning to Hindus that it will become difficult for them to live in Kashmir if they continued to oppose the movement.

By mid August 1932 the law and order situation in Srinagar had worsened due to series of clashes and violence between two warring groups. Amid clashes between two groups wise and sincere individuals continued with attempts to resolve differences of the two leaders. The pressure was built up to the extent that on 1 September 1932 Molvi Abdullah was compelled to announce in a public meeting at Pather Masjid, Srinagar that he is not a Mirzaee ( Ahmadi). While the situation in Kashmir in general and Srinagar in particular was deteriorating with each passing day, the govt was doing too little to bring peace and normalcy back.

The pro-active leadership of Kashmiri Pandits was busy in consolidating the community and their agitational mode contributed further to vitiate pent up atmosphere. Communal feelings started spreading far and wide adding to the already fragile situation. On 25 September 1932 a pandit teacher was assaulted by a group of Muslims and was deprived of cash and coat. As a reaction a small procession of boys of Islamia School was attacked by Hindus which triggered riots in Srinagar. By 26 September 1932 two hundred Muslims and 150 Hindus were injured in clashes. Out of injured Hindus one succumbed to injuries. The grave and unprecedented situation compelled to get leaders of both communities namely Kashap Bandhu, Jia Lal Kilam, Sheikh Abdullah and Molvi Yousuf Shah on one stage at Eid Gah, Srinagar where it was impressed upon the gathering to maintain harmony and peace. A committee comprising of Saad-u-din Shawl, G.A. Ashai, Sher Ali, Mir Maqbool ( Muslim representatives) and Sh. Razdan, Tara Chand Trisal, Anand Koul Bamzai and Kashap Bandhu ( Hindu representatives) was formed to enquire into reasons of communal clashes.

To be continued.

Titbit 43 – Genesis of “Sher-Bakra” Feud

The seat of Mirwaiz was a well established, influential and highly revered institution. On the other hand Master Abdullah was in the process of digging in his heels on the political horizon. It is a hard reality that Abdullah had initially considerable patronage of the Mirwaiz family.

For younger generation context of this topic is important. In Kashmir, in simple terms, ‘Sher’ is generally used for supporters of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah and “Bakra” for those who follow the Mirwaiz family. This remained predominant for about five decades during the twentieth century in Srinagar city. District headquarters, townships but thankfully by villages, by and large, never caught such affliction. However some faint traces of this adversity are found still existing in older generation in Srinagar city.

Right from 1931 there have been many players, factors, egos, circumstances and interests existing in Kashmir which had direct or indirect bearing on the freedom movement. Sufis and Salfis, poor and rich, landlords and tillers, peers and their followers and so on and so forth have been existing all through the Dogra Rule in one form or the other. Over and above discontentment in various sections of society in Kashmir was quite visible. Disparity on account of poverty, employment and education in the society has been existing for a long time.

Analyzing minor and major incidents the feud of ‘Sher’ and ‘Bakra’ is traced back to the days when Molvi Mohammed Yousuf Shah got elevated as Mirwaiz. While the younger generation of the time yearning for freedom from Dogra Rule were getting organised and striving to utilize the influential stage of Jamia Masjid, Srinagar, officials ( more loyal than the King) of the Maharaja’s dispensation were over busy in hatching conspiracies to deflate the balloon of freedom movement at its formative stage. Molvi Yousuf Shah took over as Mirwaiz after the death of Molvi Ahmad-u-llah (3 April 1931). After a few months a group of goondas (hooligans) ganged up with its headquarters at Zaina kadal, Srinagar. The group gave its first appearance at Jamia Masjid where the Mirwaiz was busy in delivering his weekly sermon. The group bullied and roughed up innocent visitors at Jamia Masjid. This strategy was carefully crafted by some officials of the government and supported by a few ‘respectables’ who were enjoying Maharaja’s favors. The Mirwaiz was factually ignorant as to what was happening outside the mosque.

On 28 January 1932 Abdullah along with his companions were sentenced to six months rigorous imprisonment and fine of rupees one hundred each and was shifted to Central Jail Srinagar the same evening. The following day (29 January), as a spontaneous reaction to Abdullah’s arrest, a large number of people assembled at Khanqahi Moulana, Srinagar where for the first time resentment and anger was publicly expressed against the Mirwaiz. The perception was that the Mirwaiz had covert hand in the arrest and sentence of Abdullah. The slogans raised included:

“Yousuf Shah murdabad”
“Dogra Raj murdabad”
“Hari Singh murdabad”
“Abdullah Zindabad”

The gathering was more than thirty thousand. Simultaneously Mirwaiz delivered a speech at Jamia Masjid and declared the group of young men led by Abdullah spearheading the freedom movement as goondas, mendicants and penniless beggars. The Mirwaiz in his speech was soft towards the Maharaja and announced that most of the 12 demands submitted to the government have been conceded and the remaining will be favorably disposed of in due course of time. An unknown young man in the gathering got up but his voice was stifled and he was physically silenced by the supporters of Mirwaiz.

The seat of Mirwaiz was a well established, influential and highly revered institution. On the other hand Master Abdullah was in the process of digging in his heels on the political horizon. It is a hard reality that Abdullah had initially considerable patronage of the Mirwaiz family. Subsequently the Mirwaiz got a feeling of insecurity. Secondly Master Abdullah was substantially under the influence of Molvi Abdullah of Shopian. Molvi Abdullah was a prudent and wise scholar with master in the skill of oratory. Mirwaiz and Molvi Abdullah were never enjoying a pleasant relationship. Therefore combination of two Abdullahs became a big concern and worry for the Mirwaiz.

On 30 January 1932 Molvi Yousuf Shah during a religious sermon at Khanyar, Srinagar vehemently denied that he had contributed to the arrest of Master Abdullah. This was followed by another public meeting/ religious sermon at Hazratbal in which he reiterated his innocence.

Whileas the hinterland and all townships of the Valley were facing government’s crackdown, the agitating population were least relenting. The Mirwaiz increased the pace of delivering sermons at various places in Srinagar. On 21 March 1932 Molvi Yousuf Shah made a sensational revelation at a public meeting at Bandook Khar Mohalla, Rainawari, Srinagar by declearing that Abdul Qadeer was an Ahmadi by faith and his speech at Khanqahi Moulana ( 21 June 1931) had put Kashmir on fire. He also disclosed that the issue of desecration of Holy Quran at Jammu was also raked up by Ahmadis.

Future Titbits will go into more specific details about this feud.

Titbits 42 – Razia’s Daughter

Razia along with her younger daughter Zarina went to Pakistan on a visit on 29 April 1979 and never looked back. Azra could not get a passport …..

Continued from Titbits 41

In 1974 Azra, elder daughter of Razia, was studying in part 2 under her Hindu name Riva Rani. Razia’s relations, once contact was established, regularly visited her at New Plot residential room. Same year on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha, Razia and her two daughters shifted to Dalpatian and never went back. Razia was told that her mother’s relations had migrated to Pakistan and are happily living there while as from her in-laws side some have returned to their village in Jammu.

Razia’s ex-husband Choudhry Ghulam Ahmed, a graduate of 1947, had miraculously survived and crossed over to Sialkot. After few years, when the dust had settled down, he returned to his village. After getting no trace of Razia he married another woman. He never took a government job and was looking after his ancestral land holdings. Ultimately he died in 2010 at his ancestral village i,e Darsopur, Miran Sahib Jammu.

While in Dalpatian,1974, ” transition from Hinduism to Islam was a challenge” says Azra. Her brother Karan Singh continued to be a Hindu and Anju (Zarina) was too young to understand and feel sensitivities. Azra started reading Holy Quran and learnt Nimaz from a Molvi at Dalpatian. Razia’s close relations (8 sisters) had taken refuge in Sialkot and are settled in Pakistan. Razia along with her younger daughter Zarina went to Pakistan on a visit on 29 April 1979 and never looked back. Azra could not get a passport as in her school records she continued to be Reva Rani. Her passport was made only after her marriage with one Salamat-u-llah in 1979 who has retired from Sports Council, Jammu. Razia ultimately died in Sialkot during September 1999. But a few years before her death Razia married her younger daughter (Zarina) with Assad ( her brother’s son) in Pakistan. Both Zarina and Assad are settled in USA.

Azra did her graduation in 1976, M.A (Hindi) in1978, B.Ed in 1985 and M.A Dogri in 1987. She joined as teacher in Education Department in 1985. In the meanwhile she got selected on merit as Research Assistant in Dogri Dictionary Section of Cultural Academy in 1992 and retired in Febuarary 2017 as Chief Editor, Dictionary Section, J&K Cultural Academy.

A few years back Azra came into contact with Abdul Qayum Nadvi, Principal of a School in Rajouri, through Mrs Shamima Nadvi (daughter of legendary singer & poet Janbaaz Kishtwari). Shamima, wife of Nadvi, was Azra’s colleague in Cultural Academy. Nadvi asked Azra to translate Holy Quran into Dogri given to her knowledge of the language. She was reluctant. Traversing through turbulence and tribulations had impaired her confidence. Life for her had been a nightmare. Nadvi after consistent efforts persuaded Azra to translate Holy Quran into Dogri language. She has completed the task in 5/6 years and is at the stage of last proof reading.

Do we call it a classic case of human endurance or a play of fate which was outside the control of the family. Pray never again.
Profound thanks to Azra who narrated the story to me with tremendous courage and confidence.
Inputs from Zafar Choudhry’s report ” Locating Jammu Muslims in Kashmir Conflict” is acknowledged.

Titbits 41 – SORDID STORY OF RAZIA

This is true story of RAZIA who was tormented, torchered and abused during communal riots in Jammu in 1947. The massacres, looting and arson, at a large scale, started in various parts of the State well before the Maharaja left Srinagar for Jammu. In most of the affected areas there were pent up feelings prevelant in the wake of partition of India.

In most of the Jammu areas, Poonch and Mirpur outbreak of communal violence and its aftermath continues to remain a huge human tragedy in the sub-continental history. These henious crimes can not be quantified. Targeted crime against modesty of women was a common feature in 1947. There was no distinction. Choudhry Ghulam Abbas’s daughter, a prominent Muslim leader of Jammu, was abducted by Hindu activists in November 1947 and could be traced five years later in Punjab. Another Muslim Conference leader Hamidullah Khan’s daughter was abducted and is missing till date. Marauders from both sides represented no religion. Hindus and Sikhs too were killed or abducted. All actors of the state whether before 27 October 1947 or after when Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah took over as head of Emergency

Administration were clearly complacent in thier approach to the gory incidents as were unfolding in the state particularly Jammu. Govt. Of India, claiming J&K as it’s territory, preferred to remain as mute spectator while humanity continued to get slaughtered. Late Ved Bhasin, a veteran journalist, ( a student leader in 1947) had remarked that the riots of 1947 in Jammu were organised and planned by the rulers with tacit support of RSS and such like organisations.

RAZIA was daughter of Choudhry Abdullah Khan, a landlord, of Chak Jaffer, R.S.Pora Jammu. He had remained a member of Maharaja’s Assembly and was weilding considerable influence in the area. RAZIA, his daughter, was married in 1946 with one Choudhry Ghulam Ahmad of Darsopur, Miran Sahib Jammu. While disastrous communal riots were spreading in Jammu and elsewhere, Razia’s husband like other villagers, shifted women folk for safety to a nearby glass factory run by his Hindu friend. During fateful first week of

November 1947 a strong mob of marauders armed with swords, lathies, iron rods and other implements raided the village and went into spree of killing, looting and rape. In the mellee most of males were killed. The women who had taken refuge in the glass factory got distributed amongst the marauders and killers like a cheap commodity. RAZIA was told that her entire family has been wiped out. She was too innocent and naive to take a decision and haplessly waited. Ultimately she was taken as bounty by one Balwan Singh r/o village Thub, Gao-Manasa, Jammu.Razia had seen Muslim folk getting killed from a distance while she was hiding in glass factory but factually some of her family members including her husband had miraculously survived the onslaught. Balwan Singh took Razia to Punjab and lived with him at different locations such as Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jallandhar, Ambala etc. Balwan Singh used to visit his village in Jammu, not too often, and collect meagre money to suppliment his income by doing small jobs in Punjab. In 1965 Balwan Singh had come to his village as a routine visit and died as he had turned alcoholic. In between 1947 and 1965 Razia had given birth to one son (Karan Singh), two daughters namely Reva Rani (now Azra) and Anju (now Zareena Asad). RAZIA and her three children moved to village i,e Thub, Gao Manasa after death of Balwan Singh. She was not accepted by Balwan Singh’s family. However Razia and her children were given shelter by a friend of Balwan Singh, a Patwari, (Bhishamber Das Sharma) who had an unoccupied room in his ancestral property near New Plot area, Jammu.

RAZIA was keen in educating her children but poverty was the impediment. She took up job of small time stitching and tailoring. Her son attained adulthood and got employment in GREF in North East. In 1969-70 plots were being alloted on Nazool land in Nanak Nagar and New Plot areas. In December 1974, Razia visited Tehsil office Jammu in connection with some revenue matter. She dramatically met her ex-husband’s sister ( also her cousin) r/o Dalpatian, Jammu. Chance meeting after such a long time brought tears rolling down. RAZIA came to know for the first time that some of her close relations including her mother-in-law had survived the traumatic situation in 1947 and are living in Dalpatian, Jammu.

To be continued