July 13 incident evoked massive response across the sub-continent. Muslims held demonstrations at Amritsar, Lahore, Lucknow, Delhi and other major cities. The Majlis-e-Ahrar was considered a fundamentalist group even in Kashmir. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah did not like them and in his statement issued from jail flayed their involvement in Kashmir affairs. However, Maharaja Hari Singh allowed Ahrar team to visit Kashmir to probe July 13 massacre.
On August 18, the Majlis-e-Ahrar passed a resolution seeking enforcement of rights of Kashmiris irrespective of their religion. It was also decided that Ahrars would help Kashmiris through peaceful means. A few days later a massive rally was held at Delhi Gate, Lahore. Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal presided and urged the Majlis to oppose the ban on entry into Kashmir. The Prime Minister of Jammu Kashmir had banned entry of outsiders into Kashmir. In his order he said: “Since Maharaja has ordered an inquiry into the incident, therefore, no outsider must come to Kashmir.”
On August 31 the Majlis announced that a fact finding team headed by Moulana Mazhar Ali Azhar would visit Kashmir on September 2. This statement created a stir in Kashmir. The Prime Minister sent a telegram to Moulana Azhar requesting him to meet his governor for Jammu at Sialkot. Moulana agreed and a meeting was held at Deputy-Commissioner’s residence. The fact finding team was allowed to visit Kashmir on the following conditions-
1: No demonstration shall be held in Kashmir;
2: Fact finding team will act objectively and
3: The team shall be state guests
The local leaders ridiculed the Ahrar team for accepting government hospitality. The mission failed. But can anybody deny credit to Maharaja for allowing a `fundamentalist group’ to probe an incident in his territory?
September 24 is an important date in the history of Jammu Kashmir. On this day in 1931, people came out in large numbers and assembled at Khanyar in Srinagar in response to a call given by Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah. Maharaja had imposed restrictions but unlike the present day democratic rulers, he chose to face the leaders on that very day. He met the leaders for not more than fifteen minutes and the people dispersed.
The July 13 incident, which left around 22 persons dead outside Srinagar’s Central Jail evoked severe reaction across the sub-continent. Processions were taken out against the Maharaja at Lahore, Delhi, and Lucknow. In early September Maharaja ordered arrest of leaders. All of them including Sher-e-Kashmir were taken into custody, Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah called for Jehad.
The Jehad call evoked massive response. People came out with swords, lathis, shovels and iron rods. Some of them also carried guns. The people assembled at Khanyar and raised slogans against the Maharaja and his government.
Maharaja proved a better administrator. Without wasting time, he invited the leaders to his palace. As soon as the leaders came, Maharaja came out. He was without a head gear which reflected his anger. The negotiations with the leaders commenced then and there. After fifteen minutes, he had satisfied the leaders. They went back and requested the people to disperse peacefully.
Maharaja did not back out of his commitment. He appointed the Galancy Commission. The commission submitted its report and recommended measures. The present day `elected’ government does not dare to face the public. Last year 120 persons got killed. Instead of acting like Maharaja Hari Singh, they have not reached the people. National Conference activists accused the Maharaja of killing 22 persons on July 13, 1931. However, for their information, Maharaja was not in Srinagar when the incident happened. But still he owned responsibility and ordered an enquiry.
And last but not the least, it took the `autocratic’ Maharaja less than two months to allow Ahrar team to visit Kashmir to probe July 13 massacre. The democratic rulers, on the other hand, took twenty years to allow Amnesty International to visit Kashmir. The state government also took two decades to constitute a commission of inquiry. And when it has finally been constituted it has limited mandate. It has to probe recent civilian killings only.
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