Kash­mir: On May 8, 1930, strug­gle starts

Views from Sri­na­gar

Pakistan Observer - - KASHMIR - ZAHIR-UD-DIN

DES­TINED to edit daily Al Barq, Mun­shi Naseer Ah­mad was de­nied a gov­ern­ment job re­peat­edly on one pre­text or the other. He had in him the vein of con­science and would raise his voice against Do­gra op­pres­sion ev­ery now and then. Ul­ti­mately he found him­self en­rolled as a stu­dent of erst­while Teacher’s Train­ing School at Ma­gar­mal Bagh. How­ever, he was not in­ter­ested in the train­ing and would spend his time think­ing about hap­less Kash­miris. One day he and his cousin Moulvi Bashir sat in the Kher Maidan (present day ex­hi­bi­tion grounds) and dis­cussed the Kash­mir sit­u­a­tion. They des­per­ately wanted to do some­thing for the gullible peo­ple. A long ses­sion with Moulvi Bashir’s Fa­ther, Moulvi Ab­dul­lah Vakil went in vain. He sug­gested them to be­come mem­bers of an or­ga­ni­za­tion run by Pun­jabi Mus­lims. The or­ga­ni­za­tion that op­er­ated from Amira Kadal worked for the wel­fare of trav­ellers. “In­crease your mem­ber­ship and take con­trol of the or­ga­ni­za­tion”, he sug­gested. How­ever, the duo opted for the Reading Room. Bashir was a teacher and earned Rs 15 a month. Naseer was un­em­ployed. . Bashir and Naseer con­trib­uted Rs 5 and 4.50 re­spec­tively and hired a few chairs, ta­bles and old mag­a­zines. The reading room started func­tion­ing from a rented room at Fateh Kadal.

The Reading Room be­came func­tional. How­ever, it soon dawned on them that a good amount of money was needed to keep it run­ning. The two sat to­gether and pon­dered. Sud­denly Bashir saw a glit­ter in Nasser’s eyes and a pleas­ant smile on his lips. He had solved the prob­lem. But the plan had to be ex­e­cuted by Bashir who agreed to com­pro­mise his dig­nity and self-re­spect for the sake of the move­ment

The Hi­lal-e-Eid (cres­cent) ap­peared on the fir­ma­ment. There was lot of fes­tiv­ity in the city. Peo­ple were pur­chas­ing mut­ton, veg­eta­bles, clothes and sweets but Bashir was busy pre­par­ing him­self for play­ing an un­par­al­leled role in the his­tory of the free­dom strug­gle. Naseer was bit­ing his nails for putting his cousin to a very dif­fi­cult test.

On the day of Eid, peo­ple put on new clothes and as­sem­bled in the Eidgah. Bashir, how­ever, chose a worn out dress much to the dis­ap­point­ment of his rel­a­tives and friends. Slowly he walked to­wards the Eidgah. He stood firmly in a cor­ner and stretched out his hand. Khu­dayi Sunde Kha­tre (For Al­lah’s sake), he sought alms. In his new av­taar, he saw him­self beg­ging for money and the peo­ple re­spond­ing gen­er­ously. The con­gre­ga­tion ended. Peo­ple rushed to their homes. Naseer was ea­gerly wait­ing for him. He had done a com­mend­able job. Ninety ru­pees had been col­lected. Two pearls rolled down the cheeks of Naseer as a to­ken of re­spect for his great cousin.

Soon af­ter, the Reading Room wore a new look. New chairs and ta­bles were pur­chased. Bashir’s hero­ics in the Eidgah en­sured un­in­ter­rupted flow of news­pa­pers, jour­nals and mag­a­zines to the Reading Room. But to their dis­may they saw peo­ple in­dulging in gam­bling and gos­sip in the room. Some­thing had to be done im­me­di­ately and the duo availed a God sent op­por­tu­nity. A woman died in Kach­gari Mo­hal­lah. The brother-in-law of the de­ceased was a friend of Naseer and Bashir. They talked to him and ex­pressed their de­sire to host the rasam-e-qul of the de­ceased. He agreed af­ter be­ing ap­prised of the plan. Around two hun­dred in­vi­ta­tion cards were de­liv­ered. The tea and bread served at the rasam-e-qul cost the duo around Rs 9. The gath­er­ing was told to re­sist Do­gra op­pres­sion. They were fur­ther told to main­tain ut­most se­crecy. This is where the free­dom move­ment was for­mally launched. It was May 8, 1930. Three per­sons, GN Gilkar, Muham­mad Ra­jab and Muham­mad Yahya Rafiqui joined the group.

The “five man army” then de­cided to awaken peo­ple across Kash­mir. Mun­shi Naseer was told to go to ru­ral ar­eas. Oth­ers were en­trusted the job of work­ing in the city.

Here role of Sheikh Muham­mad Ab­dul­lah mer­its spe­cial men­tion. Sheikh Muham­mad Ab­dul­lah com­pleted his MSc from Ali­garh Mus­lim Univer­sity on April 12, 1930 and im­me­di­ately got ap­pointed as a school teacher. He pur­sued his ca­reer se­ri­ously and did not join the Reading Room Party notwith­stand­ing re­peated pleas from its founders. How­ever, Mun­shi Naseer and GN Gilkar re­peat­edly urged Sheikh Muham­mad Ab­dul­lah to join the party. Af­ter much coax­ing and ca­jol­ing Sheikh Muham­mad Ab­dul­lah fi­nally joined the party and took over its lead­er­ship.

The Reading Room Party pro­vided a plat­form for the launch of Mus­lim Con­fer­ence later in Jammu and Kash­mir. Source: Tehreekh-e-Jung-e-azadi-e-Kash­mir by Mun­shi Naseer Ah­mad , Aatish-e-Chi­nar, Zikr-e-Hayat, un­pub­lished au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of Muham­mad Amin Qureshi, a mem­ber of reading room party who was as­signed the job of wash­ing Sheikh Muham­mad Ab­dul­lah’s clothes, In­ter­views with per­sons di­rectly or in­di­rectly con­nected to the Reading Room. —Cour­tesy: GK

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.