by G M Lone
A chapter of Kashmir history starts from 1846 when Sikh rule ended and the British sold Kashmir to Dogra Maharaja Gulab Singh under the Treaty of Amritsar at a cost of 750,000 Nanak Shahi. Since then Kashmir has been in a state of trouble and torment.
The 100 year span of Dogra rule is completely bleak and dark part of history of miseries to the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the most agonizing period. Since all these long years, Kashmiris have been engaged in a genuine freedom struggle.
13th of July 1931
The Kashmir Martyrs’ Day: Youm-e-Shuhada-e-Kashmir is observed on July 13 every year not only on both sides of the Line of Control but also all over the world by the Kashmiris to pay homage to 22 Kashmiris who were martyred in 1931 to free Kashmir from the brutalities of despotic Dogra rulers. The tragic day is the milestone in the history of Kashmiri struggle against foreign occupation. It was revolt against atrocities on July 13, 1931 when people rose against the autocratic Dogra rule and protested against the prosecution of sympathizer of Kashmir struggle, Abdul Qadeer Khan Ghazi.
Five important incidents which took place at the time in quick succession provided the spark needed to kindle the flames of revolt. These five causes area as:
- In the first case: A leading land-holder in Udhampur Jammu embraced Islam. The Hindu Tehsildar sanctioned a fresh mutation of his lands, eliminated his name and mutated the same in the name of his brother. He filed a suit which was dismissed with the remarks that unless he re-entered Hindu faith, he was not entitled to any property. This was done in accordance with a decree issued by the Dogra Government on 31st December, 1882.
- The second incident took place on 29th April 1931, in Jammu city. The Muslims offered their Eid Prayers in a garden maintained by the Municipal Committee .The prayers were led by Mufti Mohmmad Ishaque. After prayers, he read a few verses from the Holy Quran relating to Pharaoh and Moses and explained its historical significance in his Khutba. A police sub- inspector, Babu Khem Chand, was on duty along with a posse of policemen.
When the Imam spoke of Pharaoh as a cruel and tyrant king, the sub-inspector ordered him to stop the Khutba as in his view the Imam had transgressed the bounds of law and was guilty of treason. A young man Mir Hussain Bakhsh stood up to defy the ban and addressing the people told them that the Government had been guilty of interference in their religion. The cry was taken up by the congregation; they marched in a procession to the city’s main Masjid where brief meeting was held condemning the incident. It was resolved to hold a protest meeting in the evening.
One of the biggest ever gatherings in the city, it was presided over by Mir Hussain Bakhsh. The Muslims felt deeply hurt. Politically suppressed and economically strangulated, the interference now in their religious observations aroused deep hatred against the then rulers.
The meeting was addressed by Chaudhri Ghulam Abbas Khan, Sardar Gauhar Rehman Khan, and Mistri Yakub Ali. Holding protest meetings from now on became quite frequent. The Muslims brought a complaint in the court of Additional District Magistrate under section 296 Ranbir Penal Code against the Hindu inspector for disturbing a religious assembly which was dismissed, as the Hindu Magistrate held that Khutba was not a part of the prayers. A large crowd of Hindus who were present in the court premises raised the slogans: “Khem Chand Zindabad” and “Hindu Dharam Ki Jai”.
- The third incident took place on 4th June in the Central Jail Jammu. According to daily “Inquilab” dated 1/7/1931, one Fazal Dad Khan, a police constable from Mirpur, was sitting on a cot when a Head Warder, Balak Ram, reprimanded him for being late on duty. In the meantime came one Labhu Ram Sub-Inspector who threw away his bedding in a fit of recklessness. It contained a copy of Panjsurah (five chapters from Holy Quran). Fazal Dad approached the Young Men’s Muslim Association.
4. The fourth incident took place in Srinagar on 20th June 1931 when leaves of the Holy Quran were found in a public latrine. No Muslim could ever dare do that.
Moulvi Muhammad Yousuf Shah at a public meeting held at Hazratbal said: “If we are arrested there is nothing for you to fear. If ten of us are arrested, the other ten must be prepared to take our places”.
In his work: “Inside Kashmir” (1941), Prem Nath Bazaz writes:
“The driving force behind the mass agitation till the 13th July was the discontent among the rank and file of the Muslims. The attack on the jail was in no way directed against the Hindus, and those who laid down their lives at the jail gate did so fighting against an unsympathetic government… It was a fight of the tyrannized against their tyrants, of the oppressed against the oppressors”.
5. Immediate Cause: Abdul Qadeer, an employee of an English army officer, Major Butt of the Yorkshire Regiment then posted at Peshawar, hailed from Swat (Many versions about his origin). He had come to Srinagar with his employer who was a casual visitor on leave from the army wanting to spend the hot summer in the cool climate of Kashmir. He was staying in a house boat in Naseem Bagh.
Abdul Qadeer had been attending the meetings and at Kanqah-i-Maula he was unable to suppress his feeling which resulted in his impromptu address to the crowd. His speech was recorded by the CID and when he returned to Naseem Bagh in the dead of night, he was followed by the Gestapo and arrested on 25th June from the house-boat of his employer and charged under section 124-A (treason) and 153 of the Ranbir Panel Code.
Rashid Taseer in his “Tarikh-i-Hurriyat” (page no 96), recorded his speech as:
“Muslim brothers: the time has now come when we should not meet force by great force to put an end to the tyrannies and brutalities to which you are subjected, nor will they solve the issue of disrespect to Holy Quran to your satisfaction. You must rely up on your own strength and wage a relentless war against oppression “pointing his finger towards the palace, he thundered: raze it to the ground”. He said, “We have no machine guns. But we have plenty of stones and brickbats”.
When Muslims learnt of his arrest, there was wide resentment across Kashmir. The matter being sentimental the people became acutely touchy.
For his “seditious” speech Abdul Qadeer was arrested on the 25th of June, 1931 under section 124-A and 153 of Ranbir Penal Code. His trial started on the 4th of July in the Court of the Sessions Judge, Srinagar. During the four hearings on the 4th, 6th, 7th and 9th, a large number of Muslims would assemble in the compound of the Court to witness this trial.
On 13th July 1931, while Abdul Qadir was being tried in Central Jail. Finally, Khan’s trial was started in Srinagar Jail premises. In order to provide protection to the Magistrate, all extra preparation had been made. The Deputy Inspector of Police came to the site of the trial with one Inspector, 2 Sub Inspectors, 5 Head Constables and 44 Policemen. Out of this force 22 policemen were armed with rifles and the rest with hand clubs, while the Inspectors had revolvers. Besides the above, the Jail forces consisted of 119 policemen armed with dandas and 19 policemen with rifles. The thousands of Muslims assembled outside the Central Jail. After the entry of the session Judge, they demanded permission to enter the compound.
According an estimate, four to five thousand people had gone to witness the trial. But before the hearing of the case started, a group of about two hundred people had entered the compound and remained in peace outside the Jail Guard Lines. By 12:45, the Muezzin gave call to prayer and the people started the Zuhar prayer. As this stage, at 1:00 pm. Muslims began lining up for their noon prayers. A little later the District Magistrate, the City Munsiff, the Superintendent of Police and the Assistant Superintendent of Police arrived in cars. No sooner did they come out of their vehicles than the people shouted the slogans, ‘Allah-o-Akbar- Islam Zindabad’ and ‘Abdul Qadeer Zindabad”. And when the Judge arrived in his car, escorted by the police the people shouted, “Our brother from Raibareli; Release Abdul Qadeer! Our brother from Rawalpindi! We will go to the jail. Imprison us instead”. The police charged them with batons. The infuriated people fought the police back with stones and brickbats. This was immediately followed by face-to-face fight between the people and the police.
In this fight one, Ghulam Mohammad Halwai, a retired police man bounced upon a police sergeant, Ghulam Qadir Khan snatching the gun from him. Before he could handle the gun, a police Head Constable shot him dead. In order to quell the crowd, the police started firing which continued for fifteen minutes. The situation became extremely grave and obviously it was the natural result of the Governors reckless order. Governor Turlok Chand lost his nervous and ordered the armed police to open fire.
According to the evidence, officially placed before the Dalal Inquiry Commission, one hundred and eighty rounds were fired. Seventeen Muslims were killed on the spot and forty received serious injuries. Five of whom died later in the Jamia Masjid. The Hindu, Daily Tribune, dated 28th July, 1931, admitted the loss of 21 Muslims in the firing the scene was very grim.
It is recorded by Chaudhri Ghulam Abbas Khan in his autobiography that ‘the sky became suddenly overcast with dark frightening clouds and the city witnessed an unusual dust storm, as soon as the procession reached Jamia Masjid, and the government clamped martial law and handed over the city to the army’.
It was here that one of the martyrs and now you proceed who had not as yet breathed his last, had reportedly told Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. “I have done my duty and now you proceed ahead!” Another martyr, Ghulam Nabi Kalwal enquired from Mirwaiz Mohammad Yousuf Shah as to whether he was dying as a martyr and on being assured by him, that anyone who died in the firing or as a result of it was certainly a martyr in the truest sense of the tear, he immediately closed his eyes and reciting the Kalima breathed his last. On the 3rd day, they were buried in the compound of Kanqah-i-Maula. The place has since come to be known as Mazar-i-Shuhada.
Martyrs of 13th July 1931
1. Khaliq Shora
2. Akbar Dar
3. Ghulam Ahmad Rather
4. Usman Misgar
5. Ghulam Ahmad Bhat
6. Ghulam M Halwai
7. Ghulam Nabi Kalwal
8. Ghulam Ahmad Naqash
9. Ghulam Rasool Durra
10. Ameer-ud-Din Makayi
11. Subhan Makayi
12. Ghulam Qadir Khan
13. Ramzan Chola
14. Ghulam Mohammad Sofi
16. Ameer-ud-Din Jandgaru
17. Mohammad Subhan Khan
18. Mohammad Sultan Khan
19. Abdul Salam
20. Ghulam Mohammad Teli
21. Fakeer Ali
22. Ghulam Ahmad Dar
24. Abdullah Ahanger
On 14 August 1931, a call given by the All Indian Kashmir Committee. Ahrars voluntarily entered Kashmir and one Ellahi-Bakshi was killed by Dogra police at Kashmir border. His slogan was “Kashmir Chalo”. He was the first Muslim martyr from India to lay down his life for Kashmir.
In Kashmir valley, women also made a notable contribution to the movement. In Shopian Miss Sajida Bano aged 25 received a bullet wound in military firing. She was pregnant and died along with the child on the spot. The second woman to die was Miss Jan Begam, widow of Abel Lone, aged 35, resident of Nowshahra Srinagar, was killed in police firing. The 3rd female martyr is Miss Freechi, widow of Razaq Joo, resident of Jalal Saeb Baramullah, died of a bullet wound received in a military firing. She hurled at face of a police officer in course of a procession of women which disfigured him permanently. The 4th woman to die was Miss Fazli who was killed on 24th September 1931, when the military opened fire.
What happened to Qadeer Khan?
For some he was an agent of her Majesty’s government. For most of the writers, he was an Afghan who cooked meals for an Englishman in Srinagar. Author Shabnum Qayoom writes that he came from UP and was inspired by a British officer (Qayoom says in his Kashmir Ka Siyasi Inquilab).
Major Butt’s words which he told to Qadeer are believed to have inspired him: ‘Tell your God to free Kashmir from this oppressive rule’.
Sometime back in an interview to a local daily from Kashmir, a man in Pakistan claiming to be son of Abdul Qadeer had said that they had their roots are in Kashmir and not in Afghanistan. He said that Qadeer Khan was born and lived in Gulti Bagh, Kashmir. Does any historian know about it? Who knows where Abdul Qadeer was buried after walking to the gallows? This is the last page of Kashmir history and has to be retrieved!
(A teacher by profession, G M Lone can be contacted at [email protected].)