Ghulam Nabi Gilkar, one of the pioneers of the freedom struggle was known for his boldness and sincerity. It was Gilkar who persuaded Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah to join the freedom struggle in 1931. Dismayed by the Conversion of Muslim Conference into National Conference in 1939, Gilkar strived hard for revival of Muslim Conference in 40s. And in the eventful year of 1947, Gilkar did what others were scared to do.
On October 4, he founded Azad Kashmir government. However, it had to be re-founded on October 24 by Sardar Ibrahiem Khan because Gilkar came to Srinagar “to tell Kashmiris about the importance of joining the newly formed state of Pakistan.” Contrary to common belief, Gilkar did not come to Srinagar at the instance of Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah to woo Sher-e-Kashmir. And until his arrest in November, Gilkar worked like an ordinary worker.
After the ouster of Nawab of Junagarh by government of India, the Pakistan government approached Mirza Bashir-ud-Din of Qadiyan and authorized him to take appropriate measures with regard to Kashmir. Mirza called GN Gilkar to Lahore. Several rallies were held at Rattan Bagh. Besides Gilkar, these rallies were attended by Mufti Zia-ud-Din Poonchi, Chowdhury Rahim Dad Advocate, Master Mir Alam Kotli, Ammanullah Khan of Khor Pattan, Professor Muhammad Ishaq Qureshi, and Syed Muhammad Abdullah Qadri. The idea of forming the Azad Kashmir government was put forth in these rallies. Mufti Zia-ud-Din was asked to announce the government but he refused. Syed Muhammad Abdullah Qadri also refused. Finally GN Gilkar came forward and took the bold step. Gilkar thus became the first president of Azad Kashmir. However, he chose to be known as Anwar in his new capacity.
In his first presidential address, Gilkar urged the Kashmiris to defy the Maharaja. The address reads: “With the end of British rule, Maharaja Hari Singh’s claim to rule the state by virtue of the Sale Deed of Amritsar has also come to an end. Kashmir was sold to Hari Singh’s grandfather, Gulab Singh for 7.5 million Nanak Shahi Sikay. Now the people have formed an adhoc government with its headquarters at Tradkhel. From October 4, if Hari Singh or any other person claims to govern the state, he shall be punished in accordance with the laws framed by the adhoc government. The people should follow the rules framed by the adhoc government from now onwards.” The presidential address was carried by all the newspapers of Pakistan on October 5, 1947.
Gilkar stayed in the presidential `chamber’ at Tradkhel for two days only. In two days he realized that his presence was more needed in the streets of Srinagar. A young worker of Muslim Conference who happened to be Gilkar’s name sake (whom Gilkar would call young Gilkar) narrated the incident in an exclusive interview. “I had just passed my matriculation examination. One day I was carrying a bundle of Muslim Conference posters. Ama Ganie, a condemned thief and a halqa president of National Conference intercepted me. I dropped the bundle of posters but his son identified me. I was arrested and taken first to Bakshi Rashid and then to Police Station Sekidafar. On the third day, we heard Gikar Sahib had been arrested. Usman Chasha, a known criminal walked in and slapped Gilkar Sahib for urging people to join Pakistan. Gilkar presented his other cheek. Next day all of us including Gilkar Sahib were taken to sub-jail Kothibagh. Late Mirwaiz, Moulana Farooq’s father, Moulvi Amin was also arrested and lodged there. Then we were shifted to Central Jail. Gilkar Sahib refused to go in a police vehicle. He wanted to walk to the jail. Finally the police had to give in. We walked to the jail. Gilkar sahib was lodged in Barrack No 3. Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad came to see Gilkar. He paid respects and enquired about his health. A few days later, Sher-e-Kashmir also came and urged Gilkar to join his government. Gilkar ridiculed his offer by saying, `what nonsense are you talking?’ Angered Sher-e-Kashmir responded: ` I will make an iron wall at Uri. You will lick it like Yajooz and Majooz. Forget plebiscite and join my government’.”
Gilkar was released after 13 months on January 13, 1949 and was pushed back into Pakistan in exchange for Brigadier Gansara Singh.
While Gilkar was in prison, Sardar Ibrahiem re-founded Azad Kashmir on October 24, 1947. No explanation has been given till date for re-founding a state that had already come into being on October 4.
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