Death of a freedom fighter -II

Quaid-e- Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah was never greeted by a garland of shoes by National Conference workers

Jinnah arrives to rousing reception When Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah visited Kashmir in 1944, the Muslim Conference gave him a rousing reception. Yusuf Khan looked after the arrangements. He said: “The National Conference had decorated the entire highway from Sonwar to Qazigund with red flags.

This had been done with a purpose. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah wanted to convey to the Quaid that the entire valley was with him and that the reconstituted Muslim Conference was not a force to reckon with.”

The Muslim Conference workers did not want to convey wrong signals to the Quaid.  I led a group of workers to Islamabad. The National Conference workers tried their best to chase us away. But a worker from Batamaloo, carrying an axe hit his own head. Blood rushed out from his forehead like a fountain. He cried: `if anybody wants to test his strength let him come forward.’ This had an impact. The scared National Conference workers ran away. In a jiffy the red flags were replaced with green flags. The entire highway from Qazigund to Sonawar wore a green look.

Muhammad Yusuf Khan sustained injuries in his head.  The Quaid looked at him curiously near Partap Park when the Muslim Conference workers took him in a procession to Drugjan. After a couple of years, Khan happened to visit Bombay. On a Friday when he was coming out of a mosque, one of Quaid’s men saw him. He took him to the Quaid’s residence. The Quaid welcomed him. They sat over a cup of tea. Suddenly the Quaid looked straight into his eyes making him nervous. “How is your head now?” he asked and smiled.

Khan was greatly pleased. The Quaid had looked at him for a few seconds near Partap Park two years ago but remembered him well. This incident reflects Quaid’s interest in Kashmir affairs. Yusuf khan was an ordinary but active worker of the Muslim Conference. But the Quaid remembered him. This, according to Khan, was an acknowledgment of our struggle by the great leader.  

 
Khan strongly refutes the reports that Quaid was greeted by a garland of shoes by National Conference workers. “They could not do that in our presence”, he said. However, he said that a group of National Conference workers led by Maqbool Sherwani pelted stones on Quaid’s motorcade near Uri. “We avenged it next year when Nehru visited Kashmir”, he said.

 Indian leaders face wrath of Khan’s men Next year, Jawaharlal Nehru and other Congress leaders visited the Valley. The National Conference took them in a boat procession from Veer, Chattabal, to Lal Chowk. Khan narrates the incident as follows:
“We were very angry over the Uri incident and were geared up to take revenge. We raised black flags on both banks of the Jehlum to greet Nehru. When he came, the people shouted, ‘Nehru go back’. The National Conference leadership was embarrassed. I was waiting along with my associates at Sheikh Musa Ghat, Zaina Kadal. When Nehru came, we pulled down our trousers. We had also collected night soil from adjoining latrines, which we threw at them.” The incident wreaked havoc in the city. A team of the National Conference goons, led by Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad, entered Gadyar Masjid and killed one Salam Sheikh. The deceased was a supporter of Mirwaiz, but the National Conference surprisingly owned him and put the blame on Abdul Salam Dalal. Salam was arrested but released after one year on High Court directions. Muhammad Yusuf Qureshi did not like pulling down of trousers by his workers and throwing of night soil on Nehru and Sheikh. He was a decent person and expressed his resentment. He boarded a tonga along with Muhammad Ismaiel Sagar to pacify his workers, but was caught by the National Conference workers near Siraj Bazar police post. Some one inflicted a severe injury on his chest by a sharp edged weapon.  The angry NC workers, believing him to be dead, bundled him in a bag and threw him into the river Jehlum near Zaina Kadal. However, the bag was spotted by the police immediately. Qureshi was still breathing and was rushed to hospital, which was then situated at the site of present day’s Lal Ded hospital. Late in the evening, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah came to see Qureshi. He was annoyed to see Muslim Conference workers surrounding him. He cried with anger, “Is he still alive?” Sheikh left in an angry mood. Qureshi survived.

The Quaid dies

Amid shock and utter disbelief, the people of Kashmir received the news of Quaid’s death on September 11, 1948.  The people wanted to do something but they did not know what exactly to do. The Muslim Conference workers decided to demonstrate their love for the Quaid by holding a Gayibana Nimaz-e-Jinaza (funeral prayer in absentia). Muhammad Yusuf Khan of Balgarden, Srinagar who was an active member of the Muslim Conference narrated what happened on that day in Srinagar.
“I informed a Muslim Conference worker, Iqbal Chapri of Gagribal urging him to reach Mirwaiz Manzil immediately. I also reached Rajouri Kadal along with some of my colleagues. Surprisingly the people who used to call themselves Mujahids ran away. They were scared of announcing the death of the great leader. Meanwhile, Iqbal Chapri also arrived. I told him to hire a tonga (horse driven cart) and announce the death of Quaid. Start from Gagribal and inform the people that funeral prayer in absentia shall be offered at Jamia Masjid. I also hired a tonga and started making the same announcement.  I went around Nawa Kadal area. The women responded by pulling out their hair and beating their foreheads.

 Around 2 pm I reached Zaina Kadal. At Zaina Kadal, the police intercepted my tonga.  I and my colleague Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din were taken into custody.  The tonga driver received a sound scolding but was let off.  Strangely enough the police did not beat me. The SHO took me for a Punjabi. He took me along to his room and got lunch for me from a hotel. In the SHO’s room I came to know about Iqbal Chapri’s arrest. Later I saw blood oozing out from his face. He had been severely beaten.  I felt sorry for him.  But Iqbal smiled saying they beat me up to pulp but I did not experience any pain.  He also informed me about the reaction of the people who, by and large, were shocked by the news. The SHO released me at 5 pm. However, Iqbal Chapri was detained.”
To be concluded
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