In July 1989, the group of four expeditionists including myself crossed the LOC in Mendhar sector at about 2 a.m. (night) and, after descending the precipitous ridge we halted for emergency interaction and assessment. Raoof Kashmiri furtively whispered, “The guide in the nearby pasture will escort you to the Poonch-Jammu highway where you will board a bus; and I along with my friend Iqbal will just now return to Azad Kashmir, although we are apprehensive about our safe return journey in spite of the fact that one revolver is fully loaded.”
It was drizzling when I, in the rendezvous surrounded by bushes and shrubs which adorned the declivity of the Mendhar mountain, was busy in apportioning, out of my personal mobile arsenal, the lone small weapon (Chinese pistol) and a hand grenade to Raoof Kashmiri and his friend Iqbal to facilitate their safe return journey. So, after parting company with each other, the two groups recommenced their perambulatory journey in opposite directions indeed.
It was pitch-dark night. Group of the two adventurists, determined to dart into the vale and dale of Kashmir, was cautiously following the guide when it began to rain without a torrential trend. Surprisingly an approaching BSF patrol party was about to intercept us when the vigilant deft guide instantly advised us, through a prodding gesture, to take refuge in the bushes which ideally camouflaged us all. And rain guaranteed safety and security of the group which spent about three hours in an improvised shed.
“You will not take any weapon with you,” this is what Maqbool Butt, the iconic guerrilla strategist, emphasized as a prudent friend when he said goodbye to me and my colleague Maqbool Ganai in the last meeting. In May 1970, the group of three expeditionists, including the author and his friend Maqbool Ganai, was surrounded by 40 BSF soldiers in Athmuqam-Keran sector of LOC when the resolute adventurists, after partaking of snow and green leaves of a plant were ascending the snow-clad mountain with travel-trance. Sikh commander of the patrol party felt satisfied when he, while searching our bags, discovered nothing but my tooth brush; he smiled and said with dulcet voice, “Thank God, now you are now safe.” So it was my tooth brush and Maqbool Butt’s prudentialism which transmogrified a furious force officer into a humanist who provided water to us.
The month-long captivity culminated in our release on bail under the egress and ingress Act. Again in Aug. 1983, after taking leave of my host Maj. Ahsan at Chinari, I along with three junior officers of Pak army reached a mountain top despite the trammeling inclement weather. The passionate young officers exhibited generosity when they presented twenty five rupees (yes, only Rs.25) to me and asked the two agile guides to adroitly escort me to Kamalkote in Uri sector. It was pitch-dark night when the three mountaineers, while sniffing at the surroundings and dexterously eluding and dodging a BSF patrol party, crossed the LOC. I was equally generous and magnanimous when I presented Rs.25 of Pakistani currency to the hospitable mountain hawk (an affectionate gujjar) who provided food and shelter to me when I returned after 15-day stay and sojourn at Chinari (Azad Kashmir). Rs. 150 of Indian currency in my pocket “bank” sufficed for my bus journey from Uri to Srinagar. On Aug. 20, 1983, I, while sitting on the right flank of resistance veteran Sofi Muhammad Akbar, flaunted with ostentatious demeanour of an assertive pro-independence protagonist to declare that independent Kashmir was a viable proposition and option that could facilitate a breakthrough in Kashmir log-jam and stalemate.
In July 1989, Azam Inqilabi, the 42-year old resistance ideologue, was equipped with a gun. During my 11-month stay in Pakistan (from Aug. 1988 to July 1989) I visited Afghanistan twice. Afghan Mujahedeen had really inspired me. However, my defence weapon (Kalashnikov rifle) significantly symbolized and epitomized my militant resolve to assert in the wake of a contingency, notwithstanding my considered objective policy of pacifist manoeuvre and prudentialism. So I, as a strategist with optimal prudential articulation, was engaged in co-opting my friends like Shabir Ahmad Shah, Basheer Ahmad Butt (advocate), Dr. Gh. Qadir Wani, Muhammad Ashraf Sehraie and Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Farooq for a calculated collective move to facilitate effective deterrence against Indian onslaught. I wrote a letter to Syed Ali Geelani Sahib as well. We were expecting a massive military engagement of Pak army in the insurgency of Kashmir which had literally become a formidable uprising due to the martyrdom of prominent revolutionaries like Ashfaq Majeed Wani and Aijaz Dar.
Unfavourable diplomatic promptitude of the western imperialist powers in the arena of South Asian politics proved instrumental in thwarting and checkmating the military initiative of Pakistan on Kashmir front. So the compulsive consequentialism of Pak strategists constrained them to adopt the doctrine of “Restricted Manageable Engagement” as a potent auxiliary military shield. Kashmiri Mujahedeen, who had been groomed for a catalytic role only, remained engaged in negotiating the ridges and rocks of mountainous terrain of Kashmir while perambulating and peregrinating from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad and vice versa. In fact, they literally obliterated the LOC and converted it into a playground for militant activities. And Kashmir armed resistance became a protracted and long-drawn affair of brawn-assertion.
Thus thousands of Mujahedeen got consumed in the vortex of violence and uncertainty caused by repressive blitz of Indian forces. Also, deplorably discipline became a casualty. So we had to witness something abominable, abhorrent and disdainful. The bare sheer and deviation of the movement had become a stark reality. The situation had become exacting and somebody had to assert to stem the rot and rectify the wrong. Who would embark on this Herculean task? It was really a poser baffling the sensitive patriots.
On May 21, 1990, I was busy in writing an article for a local Urdu daily in my hideout at Hajin when Radio Kashmir broke to me the startling, shocking, alarming and traumatizing tragic news of the assassination of my friend Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Farooq. I became listless and tears of mingled feelings coursed down my eyes. I found myself lost in an ocean of queries; and I tried to ponder over the enigmatic imponderables of the resistance narrative. Pro-movement critics, despite raison d’être and justifiable rationale for the revolt and upheaval of Kashmiris, began to impugn and arraign the role of gun. Since Moulvi Farooq’s assassination typified a trend of anticlimax of resistance campaign it was, therefore, imperative to have a reappraisal of the resistance strategy. My introvertive disputation, discursive logicality and objective analysis suggested that my prolonged stay in the valley was inexpedient and out of sync with the psyche of the struggling people. So I made up my mind to visit the base camp (Azad Kashmir) for a comprehensive review of the resistance strategy. Kashmir scourge urged promptitude in initiative.
It was in the last week of Sept. 1990 that I boarded a small boat at Banyar (Hajin) immediately after dusk. I and my two companions got engaged in strenuous rowing task. Our 6-hour-long rowing expedition ended at Sopore wherefrom I scrambled for Tehjin mountain in Khumriyal sector. Thus, on Oct. 21, 1990 I, along with my eight co-adventurists, crossed the LOC through Qasim Post of Pak army. I had the privilege to forge an alliance of eighteen militant outfits in the month of Nov. 1990. I abdicated the chair as UJC chief to facilitate the more assertive role of Syed Salah-ud-din in Feb 1991.
Enormous investment of Kashmiris in terms of sacrifices in the resistance movement is something we should be proud of. It is time for our resistance leaders to assert and capitalize on this colossal investment the way the brilliant jurist Quaid-e-Azam asserted during Pakistan movement of undivided India. His jurisprudential detour, while adroitly avoiding the prison premises, successfully steered itself through the ocean of impediments, trials and tribulations. Creation of Pakistan was in itself a tribute to the martyrs of independence campaign of 1857 AD and Balakote insurgency of 1831 AD. Similarly, the accomplishment of the objective of Azadi in Kashmir will be in itself a homage and tribute to the great martyrs buried in 500 cemeteries of Kashmir.
If nuclear arsenal of Pakistan and defiant oil of the Arab countries can, in unison, orchestrate the show of force reminiscent of Gazwa-e-Tabook the mere ostentatious exhibition of the cumulative Milli force can yield results in the form of deliverance of Kashmir even without overtaxing the hapless beleaguered Kashmiris. And this will be your political circumambulation of Kaaba. So your glamorous akhoowat-based clamour is on trial. Please ponder over this enigmatic epigram.
Author is Chief-Patron, JK Mahaz-e-Azadi