Titbit 75 – Speech of Ch. Abbas

A very important matter that is presently engaging my mind is that we should have been today addressing Hindus and Sikhs but Moulana Masoodi addressed Muslims and I too am addressing them which shows that we are not as yet fully awakened

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(…Continued from previous post)

The question now is that after the Muslim Conference is changed into the National Conference who will project their demands but then, the important goal of the N.C. is to protect the interests of all communities and it will, therefore, protect the political and religious rights of muslims. My nationalism is to live and let live. It is to remove the disabilities from which I am suffering and at the same time, remove the disabilities from which others are suffering. It is true that the attitude of the govt towards muslims has been un-merciful. It is also true that the problem they are faced with is how to protect their interests but people should have confidence in us and should remember that the statements issued by Sardar Budh Singh and P.N.Bazaz in connection with cow-killing were much stronger than the statements issued by us. The minorities will take care of our rights and we shall take care of their rights and I have no doubt that we shall be able to solve these problems with the large heartedness of our non-muslim brethren. It is said that Islam is in danger. It is possible that we are sinners but as against those who have appropriated to themselves the exclusive right to speak for Islam, we are better muslims and have a bigger capacity to defend the rights of muslims than these people. It is ridiculous to suggest that 80% muslims are afraid of 20% Hindus. Why are Muslims afraid. It is because we are not true Muslims. We are Muslims by profession and not by our actions but in fact there is no danger now.

At the end of his speech Ch. Ghulam Abbas appealed that the resolution be adopted unanimously and stated that if there was a difference of opinion, it should be expressed with full freedom but after the passage of the resolution, the dissenters should bow their heads or else take their own path.

بقدر شوق نہیی ظرف تنگ ناے غزل
کچہ اور چاہیے وسعت میرے بیان کے لٕے

(Ch. Abbas wrote ‘Kashmakash’ autobiography and published in 1950. M.Y.Saraf discussed certain aspects with him. Saraf, therefore, has given details in chapter and verse).

Titbit 74 – Ghulam Abbas and Nationalism

A very important matter that is presently engaging my mind is that we should have been today addressing Hindus and Sikhs but Moulana Masoodi addressed Muslims and I too am addressing them which shows that we are not as yet fully awakened

The all important public meeting was held at Jammu in which several Muslim leaders of Jammu province were present. Main highlight was a long and detailed speech delivered by Ch. Ghulam Abbas. As a past practice the local print media prominently reported speechs but ” Islah” published complete details of Abbas’s speech dated 21 April, 1939. M.Y.Saraf, who had access to Archival records in Pakistan, mentions in his book ‘ Kashmiris Fight For Freedom’ elaborately speeches. Many friends showed lot of interest to know more details about the speech of Ch. Abbas. Accordingly his speech (full text) is reproduced below:

“…..Since the question involved, in so far as the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir are concerned, is one of life and death, it is necessary that I should fully come out with my scattered thoughts. I may boldly say that whatever we did since 1931, was done from a communal platform and generally speaking, it was for the political and religious rights of the Muslims because, though constituting 80 % of the population, they were leading an oppressed life. During these 8 years, we have tried to relieve them of these difficulties and we are thankful to God that we have succeeded in doing so. Ft As times change, the circumstances and the surroundings also change. The position of Associations can be compared to children who grow with the passage of time. Whatever we did so far was well and good but now our needs have increased and to put an end to the unresponsive character of the govt. it has become necessary to bring all communities on a common platform. It is true that Muslims are oppressed, though some of them are pro-government and on account of their service interest, are not prepared to cooperate with us. What we want is to put an end not only to the oppression under which we Muslims are laboring but a section of the Hindu population are also equally suffering. With the passage of time, the thoughts and surroundings also change. The political robes which we donned eight years back, have not only grown old but have become out-worn and thread-bare. We now need to wear robes which would be a source of pride in the eyes of the world.

A very important matter that is presently engaging my mind is that we should have been today addressing Hindus and Sikhs but Moulana Masoodi addressed Muslims and I too am addressing them which shows that we are not as yet fully awakened and what we have done so far, looks like having ploughed in the sand. I am by nature a pessimist and temperamentally lean towards despair.

Those Muslims who are opposing the move to rename the Muslim Conference as National Conference, are the same people who have hitherto been opposing the Muslim Conference. The govt. machinery is also opposing the renaming of the Party because it thinks that if Muslims take this step, they will succeed in their struggle for the attainment of Responsible Govt. Along with them, the non-muslim communalists are also opposing the move. This combined opposition unmasks the real motives of the Opposition.

Our old system is changing into a new one; some misunderstanding and confusion is therefore not unnatural. The first misunderstanding is that Sheikh Sahib and his colleagues have sold themselves to the Congress or someone else (the reference is to Mr Ayyenger) and it is said that we have become the disciples of Gandhi. Let me state that we are followers of none except the Holy Quran. Gandhi Ji is an acknowledged leader of India but the statements issued by him regarding the recent happenings in Travancore and Rajkot are disappointing. His opinion is that the people living in Indian States should strive for agreements with their rulers and bow before them but we cannot make applications and supplications to Mr. Ayyenger for our demands. We will secure our rights bravely and courageously. You should not expect us to become disciples of Gandhi but in so far as his followers and disciples are concerned, we have the same place for them here as we have for those who differ with him.

Whichever Party from outside the State extends its support and help, we will be ready to accept it. It is said that we are opposed to the Muslim League. I think Mr Jinnah is a capable politician. He has a prominent place in the British-Indian politics. It is his view that the majority should gain the confidence of the minority. At this moment, we are pursuing the same policy. In the ultimate analysis since the platform is common, we have no links with any communal organisation but if Muslim League wishes to render help in our joint demands, we will be ready to accept the same but we will not be prepared to sell our freedom of conscience to any outside organisation.”

To be Continued.

Titbit 73 – Change of Narrative

Continued from previous post

Many other speakers delivered speeches during the convention. Speaking in favor of the resolution Mirza Afzal Beg’s speech revolved around economic disparities and importance of togetherness of majority and minority communities. He argued that suppression is not faced by muslims alone but a large number of minority community members continue to face exploitation. He further added that many muslims played the role of collaborators and preferred to be tools of the Maharaja. He named Budh Singh who had earlier resigned from the membership of the Assembly in protest against imposition of grazing-tax.

Prem Nath Bazaz in his speech said that it was the happiest day of his life because he had been longing to assemble all communities on a common platform. He added that 1931 was not a communal event but a national revolt as it broke the chains of slavery though some people continue to give it a communal color to fulfill their vested interests. According to P.N.Bazaz, when the resolution was put to vote, out of a total of 176 delegates only 3 voted against. Sheikh Ahmed Din Banhali, Molvi Abdullah (advocate) and Ghulam Ahmed Ganai (Bhadarwah), all Working Committee members, walked out in protest. Ref: Weekly Islah, 16 June 1939

The resolution was forcefully opposed by Ch. Hameedullah Khan, Rafiudin, Gh. Haider Gori, Molvi Abdullah, Sheikh Ahmed Din Banihali and G.A.Ganai. All these leaders seemed to be upset and frustrated yet all tried to advance their arguments based on facts and figures. Hameedullah Khan said that whatever little had been achieved was due to Muslim Conference. He further added that the interests of Kashmiri Pandits are confined to services alone. He declared that Muslims should not entrap themselves as it was futile to expect something good from them. Few non-muslims showing sympathy to majority community did’t command confidence of their respective communities.

In April, 1939 a sub-committee headed by G.M.Sadiq and two members namely Moulana Masoodi and Bakhshi Ghulam Mohamed as members was set up to propose necessary ammendments in the Party Constitution so as to bring it in harmony to its new name. J.L.Kilam, Mian Ahmed Yar Khan and Janki Nath Sapru were also consulted. The ammended constitution was adopted on 10 June 1939 after a threadbare debate and discussion. Ghulam Haider Gori fiercely opposed ‘ National’ but it was too late to make a vain attempt. The president was authorised to nominate non-muslims to the General Council and the Working Committee. Ref:Rashid Taseer

The Special Session started on 10 June, 1939 and intriguingly non-muslims remained absent on that day. However, the next day i,e. 11 June they participated. Addressing the Session Jia Lal Kilam outrightly proposed to accept help and assistance from any outside organisation except Muslim League and Hindu Mahasaba. Both, according to Kilam, had detrimental agenda for the people of the State. He said that left to him, he would prefer to rename Muslim Conference as Jammu and Kashmir Political Conference because in the Congress terminology the name was non-communal.

To be continued.

Titbit 72 – Jammu in Loop

As mentioned earlier discussions continued within the leadership even after the approval of the Working Committee to change the name of the organisation. During one of the public meetings ( June, 1939 ) in Jammu Choudhry Ghulam Abbas disclosed that the differences between him and S.M.Abdullah regarding change of name of the Party have been ironed out and both the leaders had vowed to work together for betterment of people. Ch Abbas representing Jammu announced approval and agreement on behalf of Jammu Muslims. Those representing Jammu namely Ch Ghulam Abbas, A.R.Saghar, Ch Hamidullah Khan, Hakim Hussain etc attended the special session. All except Ch Hamidullah supported the move to change the name. There was a marked change in the tone and tenor of exhaustive speech delivered by Ghulam Abbas. He reviewed the political developments of past 8 years and stressed the need for tailoring the struggle according to changing environment. In an emotional and rhetorical speech he said that

“…the political robes which we donned eight years back, have not only grown old but have also become out-worn.

He accused the govt of using all means to sabotage renaming the Party because of perception that if Muslims take this step, they will succeed in their struggle for attainment of Responsible Government. He also referred to machinations of non-muslim communalists who were opposing the move tooth and nail.

Going through each and every word of Ch Abbas’s speech incisively, he appeared to be confused, befuddled and disoriented. He loudly praised M.A.Jinnah and admired him as a capable politician. In the same breath he urged the gathering to strengthen a common platform. He declared that if Muslim League offers help, the people should accept the same without selling the freedom of conscience to any outside organisation. While supporting the proposed change of name of Muslim Conference he declared that ” my nationalism is to live and let live”. As a word of praise for minorities of the State he asserted that 80 % Muslims have no reason to get Over-awed by 20 % Hindus. To conclude his speech, Ghulam Abbas appealed to the gathering that the resolution be adopted unanimously and dissenters should bow their heads or else choose their separate path.

Allah Rakha Saghar in his speech urged the gathering not to drag religion into politics. He added that political trends keep on changing as the past eight years of struggle stand a witness to changing political scenario. He emphatically declared that India or Kashmir can’t move ahead without accepting nationalism. Making the Movement inclusive is the best way of doing full justice to majority and minority population. Saghar turned out to be an ardent supporter of the move to change of the organisational name.

To be continued.
Inputs from Kashmiris Fight for Freedom, Tahreek Hurriet Kashmir, Aatish Chinar, Weekly Islah 16 June,1939 etc.

Titbit 71 – Organizational Formalities

A meeting of General Council of Muslim Conference was convened in Srinagar on 27 April, 1939 with the purpose of considering Working Committee resolution of June last year. Accordingly, under a reference, a special session of the M.C. was held in Srinagar for two days ( 10 and 11 June 1939 ). The proceedings were presided by G.M.Sadiq. Moulana Masoodi introduced the resolution approving the Working Committee resolution of 1938. The highlight was to change the name of the Party for which necessary changes in its Constitution, as was approved by the General Council earlier, became imperative. The Working Committee decieded that the Party henceforth be named as All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference and every citizen of the State without any bias and irrespective of religion be entitled to become a member of the Organisation. The demands remained unchanged i,e; setting up of a Responsible Government and Securance of individual liberties. There was no change of the Party structure and old office bearers continued to hold their respective positions.
G.M.Sadiq delivered the presidential address which mainly revolved around the need for transition so that doors of the Organisation are thrown open for non-muslims with the intention of making it all inclusive and broad based. Sadiq in his speech asserted that the transition will help in channelizing the sacrifices of the people and push up the Movement effectively and in a more useful manner.

Time taken for this change was attributed, by the speaker, to elicit public opinion and to remove the doubts harbored by some sections of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. Simultaneously political scenario in the sub-continent had started taking twists and turns. The question of the State’s participation in the Federation assumed greater importance. The Viceroy intensified his efforts to win over the Prince’s. J&K responded favorably and silently decided to join the Federation. This development hastened the process of forming a common platform. Writes M.Y.Saraf in his book, Kashmiris Struggle for Freedom.

S.M.Abdullah was obviously upset to notice reservations shown by Ch. Ghulam Abass about proposed change. Abbas’s main concern was about two demands i,e penal provisions relating to cow slaughter and legal blockade in the way of a Hindu’s convertion to Islam. However both the leaders, despite differences, played a complimentary role to each other. Both came on the same page lest there was a division among Muslims. Allah Rakha Sagar, a socialite, was enthusiastically in favor of change. According to him parleys continued even after the Working Committee resolution.

To be continued.

Titbit 70 – Iqbal Passion

After assessing the situation S.M.Abdullah reached to the conclusion that the time was ripe to change the course….

Titbit 62Titbit 63 and Titbit 64 were dedicated to Allama Iqbal because of mainly two reasons. One, he was born in an ethnic Kashmiri family and second he was the originator and first president of Kashmir Committee, Lahore. Iqbal had expressed fears that not only would secularism weaken the spiritual foundations of Islam and Muslim Society, but that India’s Hindu majority population would crowd out Muslim heritage, culture and political influence. While as Muslim politics in the sub-continent was handled by a galaxy of Muslim leaders, in Kashmir the people were too innocent and naive to understand the tricks of the trade. It is in this context that whenever Kashmiris visited the Allama, he would invariably ask them to carry his message to the subjugated people to get united and pursue education. Allama Iqbal till his death remained available to Kashmiris visiting Lahore and extended help to students to pursue higher education. Those were the days when Ms. Mehmooda Ahmed Ali Shah travelled to Lahore (1934), passed intermediate and continued with her studies in Govt College, Lahore till post graduation in Political Science. Ms. Mehmooda for all those years frequently visited Allama Iqbal and drew inspiration from him. Ms. Mehmooda, perhaps, was the first highly educated and emancipated Kashmiri woman who remained in association with the Allama, claims Mehmooda in her autobiography ” Kashmir—Kal aur Aaj ” in Urdu and published in 1971. During her stay in Lahore she had ample time and opportunity to meet prominent poets, researchers and writers such as Sheikh Abdul Qadir, Prof Mahmood Sherani, Mohammed Din Taseer, Khalifa Abdul Hakeem, Ahmed Shah Bukhari, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Prof Mohammed Shafi, Imtiaz Ali Taj and Abdul Rehman Chugtai. She also happened to meet, on many occasions, Krishen Chander, Ali Sardar Jafri, Khawja Ahmed Abbas and Makhdoom Mohi-u-din. Intriguingly her autobiography is conspicuously silent about the Kashmiri leadership and yet too generous in praise of J.L.Nehru.

S.M.Abdullah had read portions of Allam’s poetry and developed immense urge to meet the Poet of the East. After taking admission in Islamia College, Lahore for graduation studies the Sheikh met Noor Shah Naqashbandi and Saad-u-din Shawl who had been exiled from Kashmir and were living in Lahore. Abdullah saw Allama Iqbal reciting a poem, for the first time, during a function arranged by Anjuman Himaet Islam in Lahore. Using good offices of two prominent Kashmiris in exile, Abdullah got introduced to the Allama. Iqbal’s magnetic personality and magical voice left mesmerising impression on the Sheikh’s mind. During the following years Iqbal’s poetry was used profusely by Abdullah retentively. S.M.Abdullah met Allama Iqbal a number of times which left a deep imprint and feeling of reverence on him. The question arises that had Iqbal not died in April 1938, would he succeed to restrain Abdullah from converting Muslim Conference into National Conference.
Inputs from autobiography of S.M.A ” Aatish Chinar”.

Titbit 69 – Charter of Demands

After assessing the situation S.M.Abdullah reached to the conclusion that the time was ripe to change the course….

On 27 August 1938 almost entire leadership of Muslim Conference was arrested. Hindus abstained from the agitation which was started by Muslims in the wake of large scale arrests. One youth namely Ismail Najar resident of Mohalla Makhdoom Sahib was killed in the forces firing. A resolution highlighting a new charter of Demands was issued by the Organisation and signed by leaders representing different communities. The demands included:

  1. menace of unemployment
  2. overloading of numerous taxes
  3. exorbitant revenues
  4. lack of medical facilities
  5. misirable plight of labourers
  6. stoppage of subsidies/amunities to non state subjects/capitalists and
  7. ever growing size of administration.

It also mentioned that the people’s cause is just, reasonable and righteous. The signatories wanted to shape things according to their choice (Ref: Inside Kashmir).
S.M.Abdullah was released from Muzafarabad Jail on 18 February 1939 and many others followed him. He was given a rousing reception once he reached Srinagar on 24 Feb.
A section of educated Muslims had serious reservations against proposed change of Muslim Conference into National Conference. On 5 March 1939 Abdullah addressed a mammoth public meeting at Mujahid Manzil. He exhorted the audience to prepare a list of those persons who were fined by the govt. during agitation. He also assaulted a plane clothes policeman while he was engaged in gathering intelligence outside Mujahid Manzil.

Abdullah undertook a whirlwind tour of entire Kashmir valley so as to assess the mood of the people. After assessing the situation S.M.Abdullah reached to the conclusion that the time was ripe to change the course as none among the leading political beings came forward to lead opposition against the change over. Abdullah, in between, left Kashmir to attend State People’s Conference at Tripura where he presided the proceedings. Prominent leaders such as Nehru, Sardar Patel, Bhola Bhai Desai, Rajinder Prasad and Kamla Devi participated in the event organised by the Congress.

On 13 June 1939,as a pressure tactics, Director Education issued a missive to all his employees that they should desist from participating in any political activity. Factually teachers had actively participated in Milad celebrations which was politico-religious in nature.

While S.M.Abdullah was engaged in changing M.C into N.C., Muslim League workers assembled at Dargah Hazratbal and unfurled Islamic flag there. A procession was taken out with Mujahid Manzil as destination. Muslim League workers made an attempt to take possession of Mujahid Manzil forceibly. It resulted in a clash. Abdullah lead the counter attack and he was seen pelting stones on M.L. workers. The same day Abdullah addressed a public meeting at Pather Masjid where he blamed the govt. to engineer divide/unrest to sabotage attempts at formation of National Conference. Mirwaiz also suddenly became pro-active and appealed people through a poster to dissociate from M.L and N.C.