Kashmir: April 4 mahhem lingers on

Views from Srinagar

Abdul Haseeb Mir

THE mayhem of April, 04, 1979 in Jammu Kashmir was not spontaneous; it was an expression of in-built repulsive tendencies against political dissent in the National Conference (NC).
The founder of NC Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah seen at Amira Kadal area of Srinagar city with a hockey in his hand, frightening the associates of Muslim Conference, who had dared to challenge his monopoly on politics.
Sheikh had reportedly said, “If to silence my opponents, I have to take up a sword, I will not hesitate to do so.” It comprises the central dogma of the NC politics that reflects in all its functions.
“If Jinnah does not give up the habit of interfering in our politics, it will be difficult for him to go back in an honourable manner,” were the words of NC founder when in 1944.
Jinnah had called upon Kashmiri Muslims to rally behind Muslim Conference and historically challenging the honour of dissidents has remained a core component NC’s ideology.
Dissent of NC has never been to support the peoples’ cause. Who could have imagined that a man sentenced to nine years in prison for having led the Quit Kashmir Movement against the Maharaja’s regime in May 1946, shall be taking an oath of remaining loyal to the same Maharaja and his heirs and successors.
It is the lack of accommodation of political opinions by NC that it threw dissenters into prison or pushed them across the Line of Control. CG Abbas, GN Gilkar, PN Bazaz, JN Sathoo, MA Aziz, PN Fani are a few names to quote.
The silence of NC on the massacre of Muslims in Jammu was also was only in revenge against the Ghulam Abbas. The instruction to NC workers in 1972, not to attend the funeral of BakshiGhulam Mohammad was to impregnate this exclusiveness polity into the workers of NC.
The unopposed rise to throne of NC in 1951, 1958 1962 had shaped the muscle power political of NC. The context to 1979 mayhem in Kashmir wherein Jamaat-e-Islami targeted by NC was only the expression of this hatred for political opponents developed in NC workers.
Jamaat’s view of Kashmir as an internationally acclaimed political dispute and faith in UN resolutions was always perceived as a threat by NC, for it was NC that had betrayed the aspirations of the people of the State of Jammu Kashmir by siding with India.
Jamaat had challenged the political monopoly of NC and Indira-Abdullah Accord in 1975 by fielding Ashraf Sehrai against Sheikh Abdullah.
On election day, the Jamaat Chief QariSaifud Din reached his office only to see it locked and members in jail by the NC administration.
The extension of 1975 emergency to the state of Jammu Kashmir was strategically employed to eliminate the political adversaries including the Jammat, which was banned, and its public institutions closed down and members put to behind the bars.
The policy of political vendetta makes the policy framework of NC.
The targeted rioting by NC members on 4 April, 1979 against Jammatwas aimed to eliminate Jamaat and leave the throne safe for NC. Zaheer-ud-din, senior journalist, maintains that the arson and loot was not totally spontaneous, its seeds were sown well before 1979.
He argues that the ban on Jamaat run schools in 1975 had a similar connotation. As the case against the Bhutto was proceeding in Lahore High Court, some newspapers ran a targeted propaganda campaign against Jammat and adrenaline ran high in the state.
Despite knowhow, Sheikh and his administration allowed the state to burn. As per the records of Ashiq Kashmiri, the property worth Rupees 40 Crore was damaged, 1245 residential houses were gutted, 466 houses were looted, 513 granaries were burnt, 338 shops were set ablaze, 70 apple orchards were raised to dust and 24 Jamaat offices were drawn to smoke. This was no democracy at work, it was absolute anarchy allowed only to exterminate the emerging opponent, Jamaat e Islami.
Then the creation of Ikhwan to kill the workers of Jamaat and banning Jamaat activities, house arrest of SAGeelani are the continuum of the same legacy of NC. Senior police official’s public acknowledgement that Omar Abdullah wanted MasratAlam dead shows that NC has not given up the idea of no-tolerance to dissent.
The failure of NC to recognise peoples’ movements of 2010, 2011 and 2013, and mere crying of weakness on the floor of the assembly show that NC has not changed. No change is expected henceforth.
—Courtesy: Rising Kashmir
[Author is a research scholar at Centre of Advanced Study, Department of history, Aligarh Muslim University]. haseebamu1@gmail.com

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