End of an era

Those who believe militancy was introduced in 1989 are mistaken. Kashmiris started getting arms training immediately after the partition of the subcontinent. In 1948 a militant outfit, Hyderi Column was launched. Raja Jehangir Khan of Bagh-e-Mehtab was one of the founders of this outfit.

Raja’s ancestors belonged to Mirpur. The family because of its political influence had been entrusted with some important positions in administration by the rulers of Kashmir.

Jehangir assumed a new avatar when the Indian army arrived in Kashmir. Like Kashmiri Muslims, the Punjabi-speaking Muslims hated Indian rule over Kashmir.

The dissidents were externed, some had to migrate to various parts of Pakistan or Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK). Jehangir’s family also was forced to migrate to Pakistan. Some of the family members were banished and those who stayed back could not digest the arrangement and worked for the liberation of Kashmir.

For several years, Jehangir tried to mobilise public opinion against the Indian rule. Meanwhile, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was dethroned and detained in 1953. He was also implicated in Kashmir Conspiracy Case. Khan who had already been detained for dumping ammunition in Reyar along with Brigadier Rahmatullah Khan too was framed in this case.

Very few people know about the role of this valiant soldier of Kashmir. However, the noted historian, Rashid Taseer makes a detailed mention of Jehangir in his Tehreek-e-Hurriyat-e-Kashmir, Vol 4 page 133.  

According to Taseer, “The outfit (Hyderi Column) was launched by people from across the ceasefire line. Arms and ammunition were smuggled into the valley through Raja Ahsen and Raja Ataullah of Zachaldara.  Jehangir was also made its member. For some time he remained silent. Meanwhile, an ex-serviceman, Jalal, was entrusted the job of imparting training to the members of the outfit. The police came to know about some ammunition dumped at Zachaldara through one Muhammad Husain, Ahsan and Ataullah were arrested. The police also came to know about arms and ammunition stored in the house of Brigadier Rehmatullah Khan of Doodh Pathri. Khan wrote a letter to Jehangir urging him to facilitate Jalal’s border cross. He took him to Pakistan administered Kashmir and handed him over to Pakistan army. The army officer who received them was highly impressed by Jehangir’s courage and conviction. He requested him to get all the members of Hyderi Column to Pakistan administrated Kashmir.  He crossed the border several times in this connection.  When Ataullah Khan’s house was searched at Dood Pathri, Jehangir Khan and another member of the outfit were there.  However, they evaded arrest and went across the border.”

According to family sources Jehangir was implicated in Kashmir Conspiracy Case along with Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. “It was a false charge as Jehangir was in detention during those days for dumping arms and ammunition at Reyar”, they said.

Jehangir never made a mention of inhuman torture he was subjected to interrogation. It was only after his release that the family members saw marks of torture on his body. The government tried its best to persuade Jehangir to be a witness against Sheikh Abdullah but he refused. This only added to his woes but he did not succumb.

 Jehangir remained in perpetual detention. One of the cases against him was filed on June 23, 1964 under section 3 Enemy Agents Ordinance. The case was finally dismissed on May 30, 1968.

When Sheikh Abdullah signed the infamous Indira- Abdullah Accord in 1975 he urged Jehangir to join him. He flatly refused and termed his new posture as beginning of Awaragardi (waywardness) rather than Izzat-o-Aabru ka Muqaam (Respectability). Jehangir passed away on April 14, 1997. He was laid to rest at Bagh-e-Mehtab.

Jehangir never talked about the on-going phase of the movement. An acquaintance tried his best to make him talk but failed. Through him, I repeatedly sought an interview but every time he refused.  Finally I sought permission for a courtesy visit. It was granted but as ill luck would have it, Jehangir left for his heavenly abode before the rendezvous could materialise. An era ended.  And with his death an important chapter of Kashmir history was closed down for good. Nobody would ever know about the heroics of Jehangir and his associates.  He died unsung, but do real heroes need any acknowledgement for their deeds? 

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