Founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah paid multiple visits to Kashmir Valley during his life — during 1920s, 30s and 40s. Former Chief Justice of AJK High Court, late Justice Muhammad Yusuf Saraf has discussed his visits in detail in his narration “Kashmiris Fight for Freedom”.
An abridged version of the chapter “Quaid-e-Azam in Kashmir” of his book is presented below:
IN THE TWENTIES
It Is not definitely known as to how many times did Kashmir lure the Quaid-e-Azam or more aptly, did his august presence honour it. It is known that he had been going to Hill stations during summer and it is, therefore, very likely that he may have visited Kashmir even before late twenties when we have definite evidence of his visit. It is only after going through his personal papers and conducting pains-taking research In Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam that it could be definitely ascertained as to how many visits had taken place and which was the first one. On his first visit, he was accompanied by his wife, Rattanbhai, who died in 1929. The visit which thus took place before 1929 (perhaps between 1925 and 1928) was arranged through the internationally known travel Agency, Thomas Cook. The Quaid-e-Azam arrived in Rawalpindi from Bombay at 3.45 p.m. by the Frontier Mail. His wife had preceded him by about two weeks.
The Quaid-e-Azam stayed overnight in the Flashman Hotel. Mr. Michael, an Anglo-Indian who was the Manager of the “British Army Motor Service” and the “Wireless Motor Company” Rawalpindi with Agha Ghulam Jilani and his uncle Mian Mohammad Shafi as proprietors, showed him the entire fleet of the Company’s passenger cars but not one could find favour with the Impeccable Barrister from Bombay. He then showed him, without the prior permission of the owner, the personal Buick of Agha Ghulam Jilani, recently purchased from a staff-member of the Viceroy. Mr. Jinnah approved it and this is how Agha Ghulam Jilani had the unique privilege, now proudly treasured in the family chronicle, of driving the Quaid-e-Azam from Rawalpindi to Srinagar. One Khan Mohammad Afghani was picked as a substitute driver.
Agha Ghulam Jilani fondly recollects the journey and told this writer that the Quaid-e-Azam did not speak to him but engrossed himself in a book and occasionally lighted a cigar. When the car came to a halt at the Domel Custom post, Agha Sahib still remembers that the Quaid-e-Azam asked: “What is wrong?” He was told that it being a Custom post, the luggage had to be checked which was allowed. The first halt came about 15 miles away at Garhi Dupatta. After lunch, he came out ofthe room and with hands on his back, took a few strolls in the verandah; then pronouncing, “Ready”, he took his seat in the car. From here to Srinagar, there was no halt. On reaching their ofice in Srinagar, the substitute driver, Khan Mohammad took him to his destination, the residence of Pestonjis where Quaid-e-Azam stayed for the night. The Pestonjis who owned a shop on the Burad, were Parsis and themselves hailed from Bombay. Next morning the Quaid-e-ham came personally to the office of the transport Company accompanied by the youngest son of Pestonjis and asked for the same car to take him to Pahalgam. It is Ghulam Jilani’s life regret that in his exuberant youth, he refused the car as a result of which he took another car for his short journey. Agha Ghulam Jilani also remembers that afew days later, when he went to Pahalgam for a few days stay, he glimpsed Mrs. Jinnah several times; she was dressed in light-coloured saris and carried a tin of 555 cigarettes. How long did the Quaid stay In Kashmir, which places he visited, how he spent the vacations, who were the people who came in contact with him and what impressions he carried back are not known.
IN THE THIRTIES
The next visit came in 1936. By now he had assumed the mantle of leadership of the Muslims of India and in Kashmir too the Muslims had risen from generations of slumber after the struggle of 1931. Quaid-e-Azam must have been pleased to note the refreshing change of the political climate. This time he was accompanied by Miss Fatima Jinnah. Again, details of the visit or its duration must await detailed research especially in occupled Kashmir. During his stay, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had the honour of his appearance before it in at least two cases. It is incredible that the Quaid-e-Azam who was on vacation, should have appeared in these cases but nevertheless it is true.
At that time the Srinagar High Court consisted of Sir Barjor Dalal Chief Justice and Sheikh Abdul Qaiyum and Sahini as puisne Judges.
The most famous of these cases is that of Hanifa Begum versus the State. One Mirza Mehr All, Sub-Inspector, and his wife Hanifa Begum, stood accused under section 494 Penal Code –the offence of marrying an already married woman. Mirza Mehr Ali who later built a house in Baramula and settled there, told this writer that the Quaid-e-Azam was not wllling to appear in the case because he was on a holiday but Mehr Ali succeeded in persuading him to accept his brief by pleading his contribution to the freedom struggle and his being a staunch Muslim Leaguer. In 1931 Mehr Ali had been largely instrumental in the burning of the vital Sangham bridge on the Srinagar-Jammu road, in order to obstruct and delay the movement of Dogra troops. The Quaid-e-Azam agreed to appear In his appeal but at the same time, declined to accept any fee. Mehr Ali also told this writer that he was very much disheartened when Quaid-e-Azam told him to give him the case-papers only a day in advance of the date fixed for arguments. It Is obvious that the Quald-e-Azam had solved the problem the moment he heard the facts of the case from him.
Hanifa’s first husband had been killed In a police firing in September 1931. She had then been marrled to one Abdul Kabir and subsequently to Mehr All. Kabir brought a complaint under section 494 Penal Code after a lapse of three years. Islam provldes a waiting period of four months and ten days or 130 days for a wldow to remarry. It Is known as Iddat. The defence plea that the complainant’s marriage had taken place during Iddat and was therefore invalid had been rejected by the subordinate courts. The trial court acquitted Mehr Ali, for want of knowledge but convicted the woman. Wrote the Chlef Justice: “It may be complained that In a man-presided court, it is the woman who pays.” It appeared to be, on facts, a hopeless case. There was, therefore, great exclternent, particularly In legal circles, as to why and how did the great Barrister agree to appear In such a hopeless case, and that too, without any fee. The Court premises was flooded with people drawn from almost every section, lawyers, Government servants on leave, shop-keepers, students, etc.
The Quaid-e-Azam came without any books, which was quite unusual those days. Many a hearts, partisans to the case or personal admirers of the counsel, must have sunk and their pulse shot-up, to find him without any case-law. His address was brief and to the point. He sprang a real surprise by conceding, for purposes of argument, that the relevant date advanced by the prosecution was correct. There was pin-drop silence as if the hearts of on-lookers who wanted him to win, came to a stand-still. They exchanged bewildered looks, but the next moment he said something that made everyone subconsciously ensure that his feet were really on the ground, as if a whole audience of statues had suddenly come to life. He argued that the period of four months and ten days can be counted in months, only when death occurs on the 1st of the lunar month but otherwise it had to be counted as 130 days. By the latter calculation, the marriage of the lady with the complainant was within lddat and hence not a valid one.
What actually happened in the Court during arguments is not known but it Is remembered as a legend that after the Quald-e-Azam said that counting of months applied only when death takes place on the appearance of the crescent moon and that in all other cases, it was to be 133 days, the Chief Justice asked: “Mr. Jinnah. Is there any Authority?” Quaid-e-Azam replied, “My Lord, I am the Authority.”
The Quaid-e-Azam addressed a meeting in the spacious lawns of the Mujahid Manzil on the occaslon of the Milad-on-Nabl. An address of welcome was presented by Chaudhri Ghulam Abbas Khan in his capacity as President of the Jammu and Kashmlr Muslim Conference. Quaid-e-Azam spoke mostly on Muslim law and culture and said that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the greatest lawgiver and that his laws were based on the principles of justice and the good of humanity. He congratulated Muslims for their unlty and commending their political awakening, advised them to strive for the cooperation of the minorities.
THE ROYAL WELCOME
The third and the last visit came in May, 1944. In response to an invitation extended by the Natlonal Conference leaders, and what appears to be a standing invitation by the Musllm Conference, the Quaid-e-Azam, accompanied by Miss Fatlma Jinnah, entered the State on 8th May. He was received at Suchetgarh border by Chaudhri Ghulam Abbas Khan, Mr. A.R. Saghar and Ch. Hameedullah Khan on behalf of the Muslim Conference and Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad on behalf of the Natlonal Conference, and taken in a procession to Jammu which had been gally decorated by Muslims. He was taken round the city in an open car. The National Conference did not figure prominently in the reception because its local leaders Girdhari Lal Dogra and Mr. Mulak Raj Saraf, being personally pro-Congress and anti-League, kept aloof from the arrangements for the reception. Musllms of Jammu, however, gave a memorable reception and it is sald that the city had never witnessed such popular enthusiasm and such vast crowds. He addressed a public meeting after evening prayers.
Accompanied by Chaudhri Ghulam Abbas Khan and Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad, Quald-e-Azam resumed his onward journey on the 9th and stayed for the night at Banihal. At Batote, Udhampur, Ramban and Banihal, large Muslim crowds had assembled to give him an enthusiastic welcome but he did not stop anywhere. At Banihal he was received by Mir Waiz Mohammad Yusuf Shah, Mirza Mohammad Afzal Beg and a large banner-waving and jubilantly slogan-chanting crowd.
On 10th May, he left for Srinagar accompanied by Chaudhri Ghulam Abbas, Mir Waiz Mohammad Yusuf Shah, Mirza Mohammad Afzal Beg and Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad. The grandeur of the reception and the thickness of the crowds began steadily increasing as the fleet of cars carrying the great leader slowly wended its way towards Srinagar. At Khanabal, he made a brief halt for lunch. Mir Waiz Sahib and Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad–inveterate foes since 1931, sat together, for the first time, in the overpowering presence of the Leader. It was a miracle, the depth, and unimaginability of which only Kashmiris can appreciate. Just as the reception from Suchetgarh to Ramban was a Muslim Conference show, it was a National Conference show from Banihal onwards. The entire route had been so gaily decorated as never before. Hundreds of beautifully erected gates and arches of branches from stately cypress, pinus long folio, cedrus libanis, pinus excelsa, poplars, mulberry, walnut, and chinar trees, decorated with his photographs and those of Allama Iqbal, Kamal Attaturk, Anwar Pasha, Amanullah Khan, and Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, with multicolored flower garlands hanging around them, so effortlessly sprang up that one wondered about the magic of the name that Jinnah was. Beyond Kazigund, the throngs multiplied, and the pageantry of color and beauty was a spectacle to be long cherished by generations of those who had the glory of participation and the pride to say: I saw him. Bare-footed and tattered-clothed, the great majority of the welcoming ‘Hatos’ had trekked on foot, many a hill and dale, in order to catch a glimpse of the MAN, who was born to change the destiny of his people. From a minority, pitifully imploring an obstinate, narrow-minded, and number-drunk majority for safeguards, he performed the miracle, within ten years, of not only transforming them into a Nation but also to be the proud sovereign of a great, new country which has given us security, honor, and prosperity. Clad In newly-washed clothes as on Eid, the pheran-robed and red-qasabah wearing Kashmiri women, in their thousands had come out of their villages and lined up on both sides of the long road, singing songs of welcome.
When the frail but imperial figure of the leader passed through their rows, thousands of men and women were unable to control themselves as his very sight stirred up deep emotions resulting in tears trickling down their eyes. Many actually wept under the sheer weight of joy. Maunds of flower petals were showered on the car. Imagine how frequently the car must have been forced to stop, as instead of two, it took the procession eleven hours to cover a distance of 80 miles. Unable to reach the Quaid, many people touched his car as a good omen.
Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Khawaja Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq, and Maulana Saeed Masoodi welcomed him on the outskirts of the city. On reaching Srinagar at 6 p.m., he was taken straight to the Pratap Park where in course of his speech, he described the reception all through his way as a ‘royal welcome’. Processions and welcomes had been a routine aspect of his movements for at least thirty years and the fact that it was only In connection with the welcome accorded him from Suchetgarh to Srinagar that he used the words “royal welcome” (Quaid-e-Azam was extremely careful ln the choice of words) itself shows Its grandeur and vastness. A mass of humanity of all ages and sections had gathered to welcome him. Among them were many foreign tourists as well as Shrimati Mridula Sarabhai. The address of welcome was presented by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah himself. He repeatedly referred to the Quaid-e-Azam as “the beloved leader of the Muslims of India”.
In his brief address, the Quaid-e-Azam said:-
“I thank you all for the royal welcome accorded to me, but it was not meant for my person; it was meant for the All India Muslim League of which I am the President. By it, you have honored the Muslims of India and their Party, the Muslim League.”
From Pratap Park, the Quaid-e-Azam was taken again in a procession to Drugjan where the Muslim Conference had made arrangements to present an address of welcome. Addressing the meeting here, the Quaid-e-Azam said:-
“If your objective is one, then your voice will also become one. I am a Muslim and all my sympathies are for the Muslim Cause.”
In Srinagar, he stayed In Sir Maratab Ali’s bungalow ‘Koshak’ situate In the Nishat Bagh. After some time he shifted to a beautiful and spacious houseboat named ‘Queen Elizabeth’. It was then parked near Lal Mandi garden on the banks of Jhelum. Invited to stay as a guest of His Highness Government, the Quaid-e-Azam shifted to the Government Guest House No. 4 for a stay of two weeks but curtailed it by a week especially because of neither the Prime Minister nor any other Minister displayed even the normal courtesy of making a call on the great leader. Hari Singh was himself away from the State and it seems that none of them dare even make a courtesy call on the acknowledged leader of Muslim India for fear of inviting displeasure of the Sovereign. About a week before his return, Maharaja Hari Singh returned to Srinagar from abroad. In answer to a letter desiring to pay a courtesy call, the Maharaja excused a meeting, claiming to be unwell.
I WISH YOU GOOD LUCK
The Aligarh Old Boys Association (Kashmir) held a reception in his honor in the Amar Singh Club, Srinagar, which was attended, among others, by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Mirza Mohammad Afzal Beg, Khawaja Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq, Khawaja Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Kara, Mr. Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Hamdani, Mr. Yusuf Bach, Pandit Madhsudhan Kak, Shiv Narain Fotedar, Pandit A.N. Raina, Pandit G.A. Lal, and Mr. J.N. Chakku, all former students of Aligarh. There was an apparently impromptu exchange of questions/answers between the Quaid-e-Azam and Mr. Hamdani but it can be safely assumed, know as I personally do, the iron discipline within the National Conference then, that the questions must have been previously worked out by his leaders and the ‘duty’ entrusted to him. These question-answers are reproduced below:
Mr. Hamdani: Sir, would the overwhelming Hindu majority in the subcontinent allow the establishment of Pakistan?
Quaid-e-Azam: If Mr. De Valera could succeed in separating Ireland, why can’t ten crores Muslims succeed In carving out a country for themselves?
Mr. Hamdani: Sir, if Pakistan comes into being, would it not be economically backward?
Dismissing the apprehension with an emphatic “No”, “No” Quaid-e-Azam said: Nevertheless, it is better to live in a hut in Pakistan with a sense of security than to live in a bungalow in India under the shadow of insecurity.
Emphasizing the Muslim-majority-character of the Jammu and Kashmir State which meant their power in any democratic setup, Hamdani asked: Sir, in so far as the National Conference and the Muslim Conference are concerned, which of them can better serve the interests of the State Muslims?
Quaid-e-Azam smiled a little and asked: Apparently the National Conference but can you tell me how many Hindus and Sikhs are there in the National Conference?
The Nationalists were embarrassed; having invited the awkward situation, they had to thank themselves. There was no answer but someone from amongst the audience shouted: “Pandit Kayshup Bandhu”; someone else added, “Sardar Budh Singh”. There was spontaneous laughter as the embarrassment of the Nationalists was too naked to be concealed.
Commented the Quaid-e-Azam:
“Had the Hindus and Sikhs made a common cause with you and joined the National Conference, the Maharaja could not resist your demand for Responsible Government even for seven days.”
In another function, also held at the same place, in honor of the Quaid-e-Azam and arranged by Khawaja Ghulam Ahmed Jeweler, later a member of the State Assembly, leaders of all the minorities were also present. Some Pandit leaders Including Pandit Shiv Narain Fotedar and Pandit Jia Lal Killam were sitting together. After tea, when the Quaid-e-Azam while leaving back, passed from near the Pandit guests, Pandit Shiv Narain Fotedar, later a member of the Indian Parliament, said tauntingly, within the hearing of the Quaid: “I am the leader of the minorities, but I am not the Jinnah of Kashmir.” Without pausing even for a second, forth came the retort: “I wish you good luck.”
The Quaid-e-Azam stayed In Srinagar up to the 25th of July. Apart from meeting hundreds of political workers, students, journalists, religious leaders, and the representatives of minorities, he had several meetings with leaders of the National Conference and the Muslim Conference. Those who held talks with him on behalf of the National Conference, were Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Mirza Mohammad Afzal Beg, Maulana Masoodi, Khawaja Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq, and Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad. On behalf of the Muslim Conference, the political talks were held primarily by Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas alone though Mir Waiz Mohammad Yusuf Shah and Mr. A.R. Saghar also had a meeting or two with him. The object of the talks was to bring about a compromise between the two parties.
A deputation of the local journalists led by Chaudhry Abdul Wahid, Editor Al-Islah and President of the Kashmir Press Conference, had a long meeting with him, spread over two hours and fifteen minutes; the Quaid-e-Azam told them that the press was a great force but whereas it could be of immense advantage, it could also cause considerable damage. He told them that if run on proper lines, it could, besides shaping public opinion, also provide them with a correct lead. He expressed the hope that it would serve the country impartially.
The student leaders, including Comrade Abdul Aziz Mir, had several meetings with him. In one of these meetings, the Quaid-e-Azam asked them whether they had read “Inside Kashmir” by Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz. Told that the book had been proscribed by the Kashmir Government and was not therefore available, the Quaid told them that if anyone was really interested in a proscribed book, he was somehow able to get it. Obviously, he had himself gone through the book. When a student complained of the National Conference goondaism, the Quaid-e-Azam told them to be courageous and citing his own example, told them how, despite his weak health and old age, he didn’t allow the Khaksar who made an attempt on his life, to escape till the arrival of his bodyguard.
A deputation of the Muslim Welfare Association comprising Khawaja Ghulam Nabi Gilkar and Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar of Al-Islah also had an interview with him. Mr. K. H. Khurshid who had just passed his B.A. examination and was a prominent leader of the Muslim Students Federation had a few meetings with the Quaid-e-Azam as a representative of the Orient Press and was asked to handle correspondence. It was thus that Mr. Khurshid built for himself a position of trust and confidence in the eyes of the Father of the Nation. An intelligent young man and dedicated to the cause of the Pakistan Movement, it was not difficult for him to endear himself to the great leader. This casual association was to prove of historical and fateful importance to the man who was chosen by the Great Leader as his Private Secretary and discharged the onerous duties to his complete satisfaction during the most momentous period not only of his life but also of the sub-continent’s history since Britain made it a colony. The Socialist weekly “Forum”. Bombay, captioned his photograph in April 1945, with the following heading: “The underthirty Kashmiri Private Secretary of the Quaid-e-Azam who keeps the secrets of his Boss safe”.
FAILURE OF UNITY TALKS
From the evidence available so far, it seems that Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah tried to convince the Quaid-e-Azam not only about the representative character of his party so far as the State Muslims were concerned but also assured him that it was essentially a Muslim political party and that whether non-Muslims co-operated or not, its Muslim character was bound to persist. The Muslim Conference sought the dissolution of the National Conference. Sh. Mohammad Abdullah who initially sought the dissolution of the Muslim Conference, ultimately, offered to accept the overlordship of the All India Muslim League In matters of All India politics but in return sought a policy of neutrality on the part of the Muslim League in so far as the National Conference and the Muslim Conference were concerned. The Muslim Conference leadership was opposed to such a course of action largely because they derived their strength from their policy of solidarity with the Muslims of India as represented by the All India Muslim League. There is evidence that the Quaid-e-Azam was told that Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s offer of having no truck with the Congress could not be accepted because he might at any time stage a volte-face and receive Pandit Nehru on the excuse of Nehru being a Kashmir.
Quaid-e-Azam then proposed to hold a Joint meeting with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and Chaudhri Ghulam Abbas in order to help them arrive at some compromise. According to the latter, when he was told that the proposed meeting was scheduled to take place at Koshak on the 3rd day, he at once expressed his disagreement and told the Quaid-e-Azam that it was more expedient that he and Sheikh Abdullah should first have an exclusive meeting so that if they were not able to evolve a compromise, the Muslim League may be spared of the likely embarrassment. The proposed joint meeting with the Quaid-eAzam was, therefore, cancelled, and instead a meeting between the two leaders and participated also by Maulana Saeed was held a few days later. Incidentally, this was the first meeting between the two leaders since they parted company in 1940. According to Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas Khan, It proved futile because Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah told him that there was no chance of any change in their political convictions. It seems no meeting between Quaid-e-Azam and Sheikh Abdullah took place after the Abbas-Abdullah meeting. In retrospect, it seems that if the Quaid-eAzam had held the proposed meeting with the two leaders, and brought them face to face with each other, there might have been some improvement, as it may not have been possible for them to resist the logic and intense sincerity of the Father of the Nation or at least the tragic rupture that followed may have been avoided or delayed. Unity of the two parties or an understanding between them with regard to League-Congress affiliations was of such vital importance that no procrastination of parleys should have been tiresome. The very fact that the Quaid-e-Azam had, after several meetings with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and his colleagues, considered a joint meeting desirable and opportune, was itself a sign of improvement and showed that the talks had not been barren and that some basis was available for a joint conference. The Muslim Conference High Command very well knew that Mirza Afzal Beg and Maulana Saeed were at heart as much anti-Congress as any Muslim Conference leader and were ardent supporters of Pakistan. No effort was made to set up a liaison with them so as to use them as an internal pressure group within their own party. A balanced examination of League-Abdullah relations seems to be premature.
QUAID-E-AZAM’S ADDRESS AT MUSLIM CONFERENCE SESSION
The annual session of the Muslim Conference was held under the presidentship of Chaudhri Ghulam Abbas Khan in the compound of Jamia Masjid on 17th June 1944. It is estimated that over a lac of Muslims turned up to hear the Father of the Nation.
The Quaid-e-Azam rose to speak at 10 p.m. For about fifteen minutes he was unable to begin his speech on account of the cries of jubilation that rose from the audience. Caps and turbans were seen flying In the air. Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Maulana Mohammad Saeed, and Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad were later learned to have been watching the proceedings from the third floor of a party follower in the vicinity of the Islamia Park. Given below is an English translation of the speech delivered in Urdu:-
“Mr. President, brothers in Islam. I have no words to thank you for the honor accorded to me. I see that about one lac Muslims are prested in this meeting and among them are people from all sections, old, young, traders, laborers and even women. Gentlemen, the condition of Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir has deteriorated so much that tears come into my eyes. From every angle, theirs is a sad plight.
But when I look at this public meeting, I feel happy and confident that Muslims have now awakened and are united under the flag of the Muslim Conference. You have been trying since 1931 and it is because of these efforts that Muslims of all classes and schools of thought are present here today. Don’t think that it, by itself, is enough; you have to work hard. You know that I have been staying here for a month and during this period, men of every school of thought came to me. Whoever wished to see me, I met him readily and had discussions with him. From them, I have heard of your problems, oppression, and hardships. I have also found that among the people who met me, 99% supported the Muslim Conference. Mr. President, I have come to this conclusion after meeting the people here and now it is your duty to take care of them and train them properly.
Of course, some Muslims who came to see me were of the view that Muslims should join the National Conference. They gave certain arguments in support of their view which I heard and considered. You know that I have not come here for the purpose of strengthening someone or weakening someone else. I have also said that your problems are different from the problems of British India but just as you have treated me as a Muslim, it is my duty as a Muslim to advise you correctly as to which course would be proper and ensure your success.
So far as the National Conference is concerned, I do not know how It can succeed in its aim. Consequently, I asked the supporters of the National Conference as to how much time has elapsed since it was brought into being and as to whether Hindus, Sikhs, and others have also joined It? I was told that it had been set up six years back and a few Hindus and Sikhs had joined it. I told them that if in a long period of six years, Hindus and Sikhs have, as a whole, kept aloof from the National Conference, who else remains there except Muslims. I was then told that even if Hindus and Sikhs are not there, the Conference doors should remain open for them. I told them that If after remaining open for six years, it has served no purpose, what was the necessity of keeping it open again? In my view, it was a mistake, the result of which would be that the Muslims would be divided into two camps which would bring about tension between them.
I did my best to make them understand the logic of the argument, but I was told that we want to tell the world that there was no communalism in the State and behind the curtain of nationalism we will pursue the program of the Muslim Conference and that they were supporters of Pakistan. I say that the Indian National Congress had adopted the same method in British India. It claimed to represent all Indians and did a lot of false propaganda all over the world. This, however, is not a fact as Congress was in reality a Hindu organization. The result was that slowly the few Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Achhuts who had joined it separated themselves. Whenever the question of the rights of these backward minorities came before the Congress, the Hindu majority rejected it so much so that for forty years, Congress continued with this deceptive policy. Do you also want to practice this deception? When Congress’s deception could not succeed, how can yours? Therefore, I will advise you in the light of these facts that the conditions prevalent in the State are not different from those obtaining in British India. Therefore, you will also face difficulties by adopting this course of action and will never be able to secure the confidence of Hindus and Sikhs. I would go even to the extent of saying that if in this State you adopt the policy and deception practiced by the Indian National Congress, it is you who will suffer in the long run. I say with absolute confidence that after forty years of continuous efforts, Muslims, Sikhs, Scheduled Castes, and Christians are out of Congress. Please do not think that we bear any enmity towards Hindus and Sikhs or that we do not respect their religion, culture, or philosophy. We only want justice. We tell every nation to organize itself separately so that all of us would then join our heads together to arrive at some honorable solution. There is no other way that can lead us to our ultimate goal. I, therefore, advise you that you should declare very clearly and openly that you are Muslims and that you represent all. We are always ready for an honorable agreement while maintaining our separate entity.
Gentlemen, some weeks ago, a Hindu Conference was held here. The speech made by Kanwar Chand Kiran Sharda showed clearly that Hindus and Sikhs do not, as claimed, demand responsible Government. If they really want such a Government, it would be a matter of happiness and I would advise you that through an agreement with them you may set up such a Government. You must remember that you will have to work very hard for the attainment of the responsible Government and will have to undergo sacrifice. Responsible Government is not a cake which the Maharaja Bahadur will present to you so that you may eat it. You must first organize your nation, you have to improve the educational, economic, and social condition of Muslims. The condition obtaining now is that a poor laborer, after working for a full month, is not able to earn more than rupees twelve, or six annas a day. You have first to attend to these things. God has given you everything. Kashmir, which is known as a paradise, the gem in the ring as the world is, and an unparalleled country, what such a country does not possess? But what have you done? Oh Muslims! awake, stand up, and work hard and bring life to this dead nation. Improve your condition in every sphere of life. There is only one way to do it and that is unity, solidarity, a single flag, a single platform, and an ideal. If you are able to achieve them, you must succeed.
Mr. President, there is everything in your hands. As soon as you discover yourself, I am sure, the Maharaja will gladly grant you the responsible Government. Times are changing fast. The earth is squeezing. It is only an effort that is needed on your part. If you do that, other nations will treat you with respect. The position of British India is different and that of the State is also different. Even then I assure you that despite the Muslim League policy of non-intervention In the affairs of Indian States, the services and support both of myself and the Muslim League is at your service. In British India, our goal is Pakistan which we shall achieve. We are thankful for the support extended in the matter. Although we are determined to achieve our goal by sheer dint of our strength, still I assure you that the moral sympathies of the entire Muslim world are with us. Egypt, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and the Muslims of the Arab countries support Pakistan.
Mr. President, we also pray that God may give you success in the achievement of your goal. You also kindly pray for our success. I am sure that you are treading on the right path. The destination is before you, all that is needed is unity, a common platform, and a common flag, also needed is an honest and sincere spirit of service. I have no doubt that you will succeed.”
The Muslim Conference session passed a resolution moved by Mr. A.R. Saghar demanding the setting up of a responsible Government. Among other resolutions passed at the session, some related to the demand for abolition of restriction on cow-slaughter, the withdrawal of Hindi script, amendment of Arms Act, due representation in Government services and restoration of religious places.
“DO I LOOK LIKE A KASHMIRI?”
The Quaid-e-Azam attended very few functions. The most Important among them was a lunch arranged by Mir Waiz Mohammad Yusuf Shah at Mir Waiz Manzil. The number of guests exceeded three hundred. It was a ‘farshi khana’. Perhaps for the first time, the Quaid-e-Azam sat on the floor to have his meals. More than twenty one course were served. Syed Nazir Hussain Shah, recounting his reminiscences, told this writer that Miss Fatima Jinnah did not attend the function and that the Quaid-e-Azam wore a sherwani and a shalwar. He sat on a specially-laid ‘masnad’ with Mir Waiz on his right and Syed Nazir Hussain Shah, by dint of his own efforts and luck, on his left. Chaudhri Ghulam Abbas sat in front of the Quaid-e-Azam. Unaccustomed to floor-eating, the Quaid-e- Azam dropped a few drops of soup on his shalwar. Special care had been taken to avoid the use of spices of the usual quantity in the dishes prepared for the Quald-e-Azam. After the meals were over, Mir Waiz Sahib presented a full Kashmiri dress consisting of a shawl, pheran, turban and zari shoes. The Quaid-e-Azam not only accepted it amidst great ovation, enjoyed and joined by all the guests but stood up to wrap himself with the shawl after pure Kashmiri fashion. After having done so amidst great applause, he looked towards the guests and asked, “Do I look like a Kashmiri?”
Accompanied by a large number of Musllm Conference leaders the Quaid-e-Azam left Srinagar on 25th July. The first stop came at Baramula where he was taken straight to the pendal while Miss Fatima Jinnah dropped at the residence of Mr. Zubair, the younger brother of Chaudhri Ghulam Abbas Khan, then an Assistant Engineer. An address of welcome was presented by Khawaja Ghulam Din Wani on behalf of the local Muslim Conference branch and by Khawaja Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Darzi, President Muslim Conference Sopore, on behalf of the Sopore branch. While the meeting was in progress, a batch of about 20 to 25 students and National Conference workers led by Mr. Muhammad Maqbool Sherwani and including this writer tried to cross the old bridge in order to reach the pendal to stage a demonstration. The pendal had been erected on the right bank of Jhelum while the demonstrators came from the left bank of the river. They were stopped In the midst of the bridge by a police force headed by Inspector Umrao Khan. A Paris-trained Police officer, he was a staunch supporter of the Muslim League and it was unthinkable for him that any one should succeed in staging a demonstration, however peaceful, against the Quaid-e-Azam while he was in charge of the Police force. The Police resorted to a mild lathi charge to disperse the demonstrators; let there be no doubt that it was done not in execution of any Government policy but at the personal initiative and responsibility of Mr. Umrao Khan. Consequently there was no demonstration. Sherwani, however, succeeded in somehow crossing the river and there was an exchange of brick-bats between him and some people in tha audience; nobody was injured.
Another meeting was held at Uri on the same day where Maulvi Ghulam Mohammad presented an address of welcome. The Quaid-e-Azam made a brief speech. The Muslims of Muzaffarabad had been preparing for several days to accord him a befitting reception. As there was no suitable house where he could be lodged for an overnight stay, an application was moved for the reservation of the local Dak bungalow, situate at the meeting place of Jhelum and Neelum. Mr. Sonam Narbu, a Buddhist who was then an Assistant Engineer and later on became Minister, P.W.D. in the occupied Kashmir cabinet, reserved two rooms in the bungalow. If not in the whole of the sub-continent, at least in Jammu and Kashmir, it is the only building which has the singular distinction of having housed the Quaid-e-Azam, Nehru and Gandhiji.
QUAID-E-AZAM HOSTS A LUNCH AT MUZAFFARABAD
All sections of Muslim public opinion were unanimous that the Quaid-e-Azam should receive a heart-warming welcome. These included Master Abdul Aziz and Khawaja Abdul Qadir, the most prominent leaders of the District National Conference and Pir Hisamuddin Gilani, M.L.A. of the Zamindara group. The Quaid-e-Azam reached Muzaffarabad at 7 p.m. Thousands of Muslims were at hand to welcome him. The Sultan of Boi sent a batch of uniformed volunteers. He was straight away taken to the pendal and it is significant to point out that the address of welcome was read and presented by Khawaja Abdul Qadir, General Secretary of the District National Conference. That a ranking National Conference leader from the district should have agreed to present the address of welcome, even several weeks after the failure of unity talks and Quaid-e-Azam’s verdict against National Conference, shows that atleast an important section of the rank and file in the party had been influenced by the Quaid’s verdict and could have been pushed into the mainstream of the Muslim political thinking If even a little effort had been made to that end. The Quaid-e-Azam made a brief speech, reiterating what he had been telling everywhere, namely, that the Muslims have one God, one Prophet (peace be upon him) and one Book and that therefore they should also have a single platform. From here he was taken in a procession to the Dak bungalow. It needs to be mentioned that a part of the Rest House was occupied by British and American soldiers on leave from the front but as soon as they learnt of the Quaid-e-Azam’s presence in the other part of the building, they vacated their rooms voluntarily and absolutely on their own, as a mark of respect for the Quaid-e-Azam so that not only was not the party handicapped in the matter of accommodation but also to ensure that their presence did not disturb the Quaid-e-Azam. We remember these unknown soldierly soldiers with gratitude.
Mr. Saeed Ahmad Zia Advocate, now a practising lawyer at Gujrat and then President of the District Muslim Conference, had arranged a dinner for the Quaid-e-Azam at the Dak bungalow and invited a select gathering of local Muslim leaders. However, the Quaid-e-Azam not feeling well, excused his presence and had his dinner with Miss Fatima Jinnah In his own room.
After dinner, Mr. Zia was called in and told to arrange a lunch on the following day and invite the same guests whom he had invited for the dinner. The reason obviously was that having been unable to join them at dinner, the Quaid-e-Azam felt a moral responsibility of giving them an opportunity of having a meal with himself and, therefore, instead of accepting an invitation for lunch from any other person, decided to play the host himself. He was earlier scheduled to leave for Rawalpindi after breakfast. He prolonged his stay by several hours though as a result he had to travel at the peak hot hours in the last week of July. And who were the important guests for whom he took all the trouble? The pheran-robed, Maulvi looking, simple folk, village tailors, petty shopkeepers, imams and the like. At a time when the battle for Pakistan was at its height, the General thought these people to be important–so important as to defer his departure by several hours in order to play them host.
There had been a slight drizzle during the preceding night. In the morning, the Quaid-e-Azam had a morning walk alongwith Miss Fatima Jinnah. Mr. Zia remembers that the Quaid-e-Azam wore a whiye chappal which contacted a slight mud. The Quaid-e-Azam took r pebble and started removing the mud when Zia rushed with joyful tears for having the opportunity to do the job. After a feeble resistance, he was allowed the honour. On his return to the Dak bungalow, Quaid-e-Azam Azam told him, after dwelling on the need for a Muslim press, that he wanted to bring out an Urdu daily from Lahore. Asked whether he had decided upon the name of the paper, the Quaid-e-Azam said “Ek Dum” Mr. Zia could naturally not follow and translating it into English, repeated: “At once-At once”. The Quaid-e-Azam gave a jerk to his head and said: “No. No, Ek Dam, Action, Action”. Mr. Zia was fortunate to have possessed the presence of mind to understand what the Quaid-e-Azam meant because, a district lawyer, In such a far off, out of the way place, it would have been quite normal for him to have been overwhelmed by the thought of the historic opportunity of being in the presence of the Father of the Nation, and hence unconscious of what was actually passing between them. Zia then said “iqdaam” and the Quaid-e-Azam pleasantly noded his head In agreement. According to Mr. Zia, Miss Fatima Jinnah was so much impressed by the natural beauty and landscape at Domel as to have said that the Maharaja could have as well made this place his capital. The words were prophetic because only three years later, Muzaffarabad did become the Capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah must have been greatly disappointed. He had, largely, to blame himself because to have expected neutrality between the two parties on the part of the Father of the Nation was unthinkable. How could the All India Muslim League which was demanding partition of the subcontinent on the basis of the Two Nation Theory, take a contradictory position In Kashmir? If nationalism was unacceptable in British India, It could not be acceptable in Kashmir simply because here it meant Muslim rule. Quaid-e-Azam was not given to double standards and even his worst critics have acknowledged his integrity and clear thinking. The best course for the National Conference leadership was to dissolve the National Conference and join the Muslim Conference. The fact that National Conference was decidedly the stronger and the better organised of the two, should not have stood in the way of its High Command in taking a bold, realistic and imaginative decision. However, the National Conference High Command had already undertaken to support the demand for Pakistan and had thus offered to accept the over-lordship of the All India Muslim League, atleast on All India matters. It was a bold and imaginative decision which meant a reversal of its pro-Congress policies pursued in some form or other since 1938. It was bound to alienate the few non-Muslims who still remained in the party. That would have brought it nearer to the Muslim League. One wonders whether the importance of this offer and its far-reaching consequences were realised at the time by the Muslim Conference leadership? There is no evidence at all that the latter made any effort to grasp its importance or make it a basis for the widening of contact and understanding with the National Conference. On the other hand, by introducing Nehru behind the back of National Conference leaders and by linking him with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah as “Kashmiris”, no service was rendered to the cause at Kashmir’s future.
To counter-act the emphatic declaration made by the Quaid-e-Azam on 17th June calling upon the State Muslims to join the Muslim Conference, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and his party started a mass-contact campaign to explain their position to the Muslim masses. In this connection, he addressed about a dozen meetings in Srinagar and in one of them said that Mr. Jinnah would be better advised to leave the State people to their own fate otherwise “he would expose him”. This statement was by itself condemnable and provocative and mirrored the fascist tendencies of the National Conference but some newspapers twisted it, particularly the pro-Congress Urdu press at Lahore such as Milap, Pratap and Vir Bharat. There were also minor clashes between workers of the two parties in Srinagar city. Quaid-e-Azam was already aware of the fascist tendencies of the National Conference. While having tea at Khanabal, a worker of the Muslim Conference, Mohammad Ismail, had appeared before him and shown a tooth allegedly broken during a clash between workers of the two parties. The Quaid-e-Azam, therefore, issued the following statement at the time of his departure:
“I have been here for sometime and I have seen all classes of people, and had the opportunity of hearing various views, and also press reports and criticisms, some of which were unkind and unjust, but on the whole I am very thankful for the kindness that was shown to me, especially by the Muslims.
As I said at the moment I reached Jammu, it is not the policy of the Muslim League to interfere with the internal administration of this State or the grave and serious issues that face the Maharaja and his Government, as between him and his people, but we are certainly very deeply concerned with the welfare of the Muslims In the State, and I must say that even a casual visitor cannot but be shocked to see the condition of the people in this State, even in matters of their elementary needs and necessities. Sir B.N. Rao has Just taken charge as Prime Minister of the State, and now the people are looking up to him and expecting that he will take effective measures for their betterment.
As regards the Muslims, as I said, we are vitally concerned with their welfare, but I regret that although Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and his party and the Muslim Conference discussed matters with me in Delhi and in Lahore before my arrival here, and were good enough to accord me a great reception, and were anxious that I should hear both sides and bring about a settlement, when I, after consideration, suggested that the Muslims should organise themselves under one flag and on one platform, not only my advice was not acceptable to Sheikh Abdullah, but, as is his habit which has become a second nature with him, he Indulged in all sorts of language of a most offensive and vituperative character in attacking me. My advice to the Muslims is that the differences can only be resolved by argument, discussion, exchange of views, and reason, and not by goondaism and one thing that I must draw the attention of the Kashmir Government about, is that goondaism must be put down at any cost, and there should be a constitutional liberty of speech and freedom of thought, which is the elementary right of every citizen under any civilised form of Government.”
Excerpts from “Kashmiris Fight for Freedom – Vol. 1” by late Justice M. Yusuf Saraf