Between Heroes and Villains

  How history judges our contemporary political leadership. I cannot Say.  I am not a historiographer with hindsight to suggest who goes as hero in the pages of our history and who is clubbed with the baddies.

Today many political leaders make headlines. I don’t know tomorrow which of them dominates the main text of our history, who gets relegated to the footnotes and who finds no mention at all. It has been irony of our history that men who were admired as heroes by masses at a certain point of time after a gap were counted as villains and antiheroes. Leaders who drew thunderous applause from surging crowds were later on booed down and showered with sandals and brickbats.

It is a big riddle that some leaders who led the Kashmir struggle for freedom with bravado departed from the political scene stealthily and died silently. Some departed from the scene abominably. Many leaders who had suffered trials, tribulations and imprisonments for years for their failure to remain steadfast to their political beliefs    could not make it to the footnotes of the history. There have been leaders who led many political movements in the state with astuteness but have failed to make it to history as credible and genuine people. So is true of many political organizations in the state. These organizations were born with a bang but died with a whimper. The organizations that once upon a time dominated the political scene in the state are long dead. Today there are no traces of organizations like the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference, the founding  organization of the freedom struggle, the Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front that forcefully led the struggle for right to self-determination for twenty two years, the Jammu and Kashmir Political Conference that was founded two years after the birth of the India and Pakistan as independent dominions and strongly advocated accession of the state with Pakistan and the Jammu and Kashmir All Parties Action Committee. These were not paper or press note organizations. These were not one-man parties that are in galore these days.  Majority of them were mass based organizations. These organizations with people like Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg, Molvi Muhammad Syed Masoodi and Ghulam Mohi-u-Din Qara in the vanguard led numerous political movements in the state with intellect, wisdom, verve and nerve. These leaders had earned a great public adulation.

They were titled as the Pride of Kashmir, the Thinker of Kashmir and the Nightingale of Kashmir.

It has been engaging my mind will these leaders make it to the main text of Kashmir history. But I am intrigued to believe that they will not perhaps make it to even to the footnotes. Is it the historical forces that have ganged up against them   or it is their faulting and taking wrong decisions at the right moments that is denying them a coveted place in the Kashmir history.

Their role at the departure of the British from the Sub-Continent is yet another poser that has been bothering me. But, I am not here to analyze their role in 1947 that they many times regretted publically. These politicians including their leader Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah had started retracing their steps in 1950 only that reached to their logical conclusion in 1953. I believe that these leaders are failing to make as heroes to the main text of Kashmir history for having faulted at more than one right moment in our history.

History recognizes the 1964 Holy Relic Movement as an important watershed in the struggle for ending political uncertainty in the state. This movement was led by the Jammu and Kashmir Action Committee – like modern day Hurriyat  conference it was a conglomerate of some pro-right to self-determination political parties and large number of religious and social bodies. The newly initiated Mirwaiz (Chief Priest) young Molvi Muhammad Farooq was appointed as the chairman of the party.  The only political organizations in this conglomerate were the Plebiscite Front and the Political Conference and the only political beings in this organization were Molvi Muhammad Syed Masoodi and Ghulam Mohudin Qara and all others could be called as the hewers of wood and drawers of water of the Kashmir politics. The Relic Movement was an upsurge that has very few parallels in the history of Kashmir. The men in the vanguard of this movement instead of setting a broader and bigger goal fixed some myopic objectives for it. The two objectives set for the Relic Movement were one, release of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and two, pushing Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad into political wilderness and installing a new government in the State with Ghulam Muhammad Sadiq as Prime Minister of the state. The driving forces behind setting agenda were one, the vendetta and two, the vested interests. Molvi Muhammad Syed nursed lot of grouse against Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad for having implicated him in the Hazratbal Murder Case and Ghulam Mohudin Qara’s interest was installing his first cousin as Chief Minister of the State. To see their objective achieved these leaders played to the galleries of New Delhi, a then youth leader who was deeply associated with the relic movement told me in an interview some couple of months back. Giving lots of details about how he along with a group of intellectuals that included Prof. Muhammad Yusuf (Later Principal), Prof. Abdul Ahad Malik, Prof. Mir and couple of others tried to prevail upon the leaders not to divert the Relic Movement for achieving myopic objective. He along with group of intellectuals to put their point of view before Molivi Farooq but he was too young to understand dynamics and dubiousness of the moves made by Molvi Syed. 

How these leaders subverted the Holy Relic Movement he quoted speeches of these leaders one by Molvi Mohammad Syed at Karan Nagar, Srinagar and another by President of the Political Conference. Molvi Muhammad Syed after announcing that the Holy Relic had been found out  in his speech had stated that the Action Committee did not trust the state police and wanted New Delhi to depute some top police officer from New Delhi for investigating the matter and the Political Conference leader had stated that ‘he was not ready to shake Pakistan hands that are soaked in the blood of Hindus”.

These statements had evoked a lot of resentment in the people. The Action Committee next day had a public meeting at Zadibal but they not only faced tough crowd and were not allowed to make any speech. The wooden stage was dismantled and set ablaze. (These details in fact authenticated the interview given to me by a still living member of the Action Committee Executive).

There can be no denying that Molvi Syed Masoodi  launched a non-violent movement for highlighting the demand for plebiscite but many questions are put on his role during August 1965. His role in the launching of the Janta Party in 1977 and pushing whole Kashmir leadership demanding right to self-determination into electoral politics is looked as dubious by many a student  of contemporary Kashmir politics. How the phenomenon of the Janata Party sucked entire Kashmir leadership into it and made them and their organization irrelevant is in itself a subject that deserves to be written about in detail.  So is true about the role of Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg from the birth of the Plebiscite Front till his detention in 1971 he was the hero. The question that haunts a contemporary student of politics is did  Beg write an epitaph on his political standing in people by signing the 1975 Accord. The events that followed the 1977 election testify that yes he did. In 1978, we see the man of immense popularity not only becoming a bête noire for people but also as irrelevant and relegated to the footnotes of Kashmir politics.
History has many lessons for contemporary leadership provided they read them between the lines.

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