‘Newspaper with his article sold for £ 59’: The legacy of Dr. Ghulam Qadir Wani- MUFs first General Secretary

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Many of our readers will be taken aback at the fact that copies of a Kashmiri newspaper were sold for 59 rupees back in 1986. The copies sold in black in massive numbers was due to the massive demand for an article written by Dr. Ghulam Qadir Wani, the first general secretary of Muslim United Front. The article was published by Daily Uqab on 23rd March, 1986 (Pakistan Day).

In the decade of 90’s back to back political killings hit the soul of Kashmir. Most of the assassinated community leaders enjoyed a mass support in the valley. Reasons political or any other, the killings created void which has remained unfilled after. On November 4 1998, Kashmir was taken aback over the news of the killing of Dr. Ghulam Qadir Wani.

Dr. Ghulam Qadir Wani was born in Bandipora’s Arin area on March 11, 1953. He graduated from Degree College Sopore and got earned a Post Graduation and PhD from the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi.

Though he came to limelight after he was made the General Secretary of Muslim Uited Front, but by his teenage, Dr. Wani had started his political activism during his colkege days. Dr. Wani spent his undergraduate and university years keeping an eye on every social, political, local, and international topic of the day. The Holy Quran was important to his thinking, yet he could also easily reference intellectuals like as Sartre, Kierkegaard, Voltaire, and Gramsci.

Dr. Wani joined the Muslim United Front in June 1986 and On July 13, 1986, Muslim United Front met at the house of Professor Bhat. In this meeting, Moulana Abbas Ansari was appointed as the first convener of the Muslim United Front, Dr Ghulam Qadir Wani as the General Secretary and Professor Bhat as the Spokesman. On 2nd September of the same year, a constitution was adopted by the forum, along with the formation of the first executive body with Prof. Abbas Ansari as convener, Prof. Bhat as Spokesperson, Qadir Wani as General Secretary. The constitution of the forum was drafted by Dr. Wani, Prof Bhat and Dr. Qazi Nisar Ahmed. The elections, however, were rigged and MUF was defeated in 1987 elections and hundreds of its activists were put behind bars.

MUF disbanded once everyone was imprisoned. Dr. Wani, on the other hand, did not relent. He joined the Islamic Students League (ISL) and travelled to Pakistan-administered Kashmir as soon as he was released. He also worked for JKLF as its chief publicity officer for a short time before returning to ISL. He led the ISL from PaK until his return to Srinagar in 1995.

During his stay in Pakistan, on January 26, 1993, he also led a demonstration to Muzaffarabad, where he delivered a memorandum to UNO officials. Dr.Wani globalised the Kashmir issue and travelled to at least 25 countries, including Egypt, France, Germany, Libya, Iran, Iraq, and Bangladesh, to promote awareness and solidarity for the Kashmir cause.

On September 18, 1997, about 5:20 p.m., a mortar shell appeared out of nowhere and struck a young man named Ashoor Lone, seriously injuring him. The sound of the exploding shell drove eight Mir family members outdoors to check the situation. Five minutes later, another round poured down, killing all eight family members inside their yard as well as three more on the lane outside. Six of the eleven people killed were children.

BSF from neighbouring Bapora Camp carried out the fatal shelling. Mohammad Abdullah, a family member who was away that day, asked Dr. Wani to assist him in fighting for his family, and Dr. Wani vowed to do his best against the wishes of a BSF official who offered Dr. Wani at least Rs 15,00,000 to stay out of Abdullah’s case, but he refused and filed a FIR.

Amid the death treats Dr. Wani was getting, unknown gunmen followed Dr. Wani into his home on November 4, 1998 when he was returning after offering night prayers and started firing. Dr. Wani and his niece were killed. This forced Mohammad Abdullah to leave his case midway.

His political contemporaries have always held the slain in hugh regards. His political thought continues to remain an inspiration for many of those in political circles. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the deceased chairman of Hurriyat remembering Dr, Wani said, “When we were lodged in Srinagar Central Jail, the jail authorities had refused to allow relatives of several political prisoners to meet him after whichh he soon launched agitation and delivered a fiery lecture which had an impact on every listener and Dr Wani told them that those who are keeping us behind the bars would soon be here, and such was the promise of these words that Ghulam Mohammad Shah took reigns of power only after few days and many among the establishment found themselves in jail.”

Mohammed Azam Inqualabi, the senior most Hurriyat leader and the former chairman of United Jihead council remembering Dr. Wani said, he possessed great diplomatic skills and was ready to sacrifice everything to achieve freedom. Dr Wani would often discuss with me the strategies and would express his displeasure over the internal bickering among the resistance outfits and the stress need to correct these deformities to lead the movement in a proper manner.

[Posted in WRITE-UPS [Kashmiryat]

 

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