Abdul Qadeer was taken into private employment by the Britisher and both remained and moved together. After sometime the British officer shifted to Peshawar and Qadeer accompanied him. (Perhaps many mistake it that Qadeer was a resident of Peshawar).
Alistair Lamb described people (Kashmiris) as the exceptionally docile natured – a view consistent with Tyndale Biscoe’s theory of a people whose “manhood” had been crushed by exploitation. In the 1930s, however, the era of popular politics in Kashmir arrived. So arrived Qadeer to symbolize overwhelming public sentiment. This write up is, therefore, dedicated to him.
Abdul Qadeer was of great historical consequence in the Kashmir political history of twentieth century. Mass uprising of Kashmiri people shall remain indebted to Qadeer whose trial at Central Jail Srinagar made people, in large numbers, to assemble outside Jail premises on 13 July 1931. While the detailed accounts of the day have been mentioned in several books and published material, yet many details about Qadeer continue to remain unknown.
Qadeer was a tall and robustly built young man with faint marks of variola on his face. He was a Pathan from Amroha (U.P.) and extraordinarily brave, courageous and gutty. During start of 1930 a British Army officer (Col. Abbot substantive rank major) of the Yorkshire Regiment was posted in Garwal area of Utar Pradesh. During one of his visits to the planes of U.P. , Col. Abbot came into contact with Abdul Qadeer. The British officer was impressed by Qadeer’s honesty, uprightness and courage. Abdul Qadeer was taken into private employment by the Britisher and both remained and moved together. After sometime the British officer shifted to Peshawar and Qadeer accompanied him. (Perhaps many mistake it that Qadeer was a resident of Peshawar). After remaining posted in Peshawar for a brief period, the British officer at his own request was posted to Kashmir. Those days Britishers were fond of visiting Kashmir on vacations. The British officer’s another attraction to get posted to Kashmir was his close friendship with G.E.C Wakefield who was Prime Minister of J&K State at that time. On reaching Srinagar Col. Abbot hired a houseboat at Naseem Bagh and Qadeer as an aide cum cook also lived with his employer in the same house boat. Therefore, it can be presumed that Qadeer arrived in Kashmir much before 21June 1931 and continuously lived in Srinagar for the entire period.
In 1965 Rasheed Taseer interviewed Ghulam Mohi-u-din Qarra which was published in Urdu weekly “Mohafiz”. In the interview Mr. Qarra disclosed that well before the incident of firing on a mob outside Central Jail, Srinagar on 13th July 1931, Abdul Qadeer used to visit the shop of Peer Abdul Ahad Shah (perhaps located at Batmaloo) where Qadeer came into contact with Ahad Shah, Ghulam Mohammed Sadiq, Husain Khan, Sultan Dopata, Nasir Khan and Muzafar Khan (later Judge in 1947) apart from Qarra Sahib. The group used to discuss political developments and the freedom struggle in Hindustan. These discussions and interactions impressed Qadeer and left an imprint on his mind. He was keen to know details of high handedness of the government on the poor and hapless people in Kashmir. The desecration of Quran in Jammu earlier was heavily weighing on his mind and had left him infuriated. It is most likely that Qadeer during his stay in Kashmir had met many individuals/commoners but he was surely following Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah through latter’s speeches and anti-ruler activities. It is a fact that Qadeer had developed a strong urge to address people and give vent to his feelings and emotions. Studying Qadeer suggests that he had met S.M. Abdullah on several occasions and had always showered praises on the leader. He also visited Abdullah’s residence (Soura) once to meet him. Qadeer’s meeting with Abdullah at Dargah Hazratbal during second week of June, 1931 was one of those efforts which he was making to convince Abdullah to provide him opportunity to address a gathering. (Read Titbit 39).
On 21 June 1931 a massive public meeting was convened by the Reading Room Party at Khanqahi Moula with the highlight of the two Mirwaizs (Molvi Yusuf Shah and Molvi Hamdani) sharing the same platform. The meeting, which was biggest political gathering until then was convened to elect 7-member deputation to present a memorandum of demands to the Maharaja. After the speeches were concluded the names of deputationists were announced. The names included Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah, Mirwaiz Ahmed-u-llah, Aga Husain Jalali, Munshi Shahab-u-din, Saad-u-din Shawl, G.A. Ashai and S.M. Abdullah, all representing Kashmir. Choudhry Ghulam Abbas, Mistri Yaqub Ali and Gouhar Rehman were nominated to represent Jammu Province. The meeting ended and the leaders on the stage retired to a nearby house for a cup of tea and further consultations. While the dispersal started, Qadeer climbed on the stage with the facilitation of Ahmad-u-llah Shahdad and raised slogan of “Narai Takbeer – Alloh-o-Akbar”. (God is Great). Thereafter he delivered a provocative speech using harsh words against the Maharaja and his government. He reminded the gathering that they continue to be slaves and ruled by a government who has the impertinence to insult their religion. He exhorted upon people to answer violence with violence. Qadeer expectedly received tremendous ovation from the gathering who had been craving to hear such words for a long time. During the speech he raised his arm and pointed his finger towards the Shegarhi Palace and provoked the gathering to demolish the seat of repression. The people, thereafter, dispersed peacefully amid slogans against the Maharaja.
The Maharaja called for report from Sub Inspector (CID) Mohammed Yusuf Allaqaband who feigned ignorance about the details of Qadeer’s speech. He was promptly placed under suspension. The government responded by registering a case u/s 124-A (treason) and 153 RPC (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 153-A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion…) in Police station Maharaj Gung, Srinagar. Qadeer also left for his house boat and was arrested during the night and handcuffed. The investigation of the case was expedited and challan was produced in the court of Judge Kishen Lal Kichloo. The court was located at Amirakadal near court road. Lala Nanak Chand led the prosecution and Molvi Abdullah appeared as defence counsel. While the proceedings of the court started people in large numbers assembled near the court premises to have a glimpse of Qadeer. It became unmanageable to bring the accused to the court. Owing to law & order problem the government shifted the court to Central Jail Srinagar on 5th July, 1931. After few days of court proceedings Qadeer was sentenced to the three years, rigourous imprisonment on 13th July 1931, after in-camera trial. A large crowd had converged at the gate of the Central Jail. Please read eye witness account as to what happened at Central Jail by Pir Afzal Mukhdoomi in his book “Tareekh Tehrik Hurriet Kashmir” who also got injured in the firing on 13th July 1931 (P.P. 42 & 43). It may be mentioned here that the firing on the crowd was ordered by Governor Attar Singh.
While remaining in Jail for about 15 months Qadeer’s employer (Col. Abbot) laboured hard and used his proximity and clout to get him released from the custody. Ultimately Qadeer was surreptitiously released and taken by officials to Lahore via Rawalpindi. It is presumed that from Lahore Qadeer went to his home town Amroha (U.P) and lived a life in oblivion.
Input from Archives Department files are acknowledged