Kashmir’s Tryst with Destiny!

Kashmir’s Tryst with Destiny!
Commemorating Mirwaiz Farooq and Abdul Ghani Lone
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Kashmir’s tryst with destiny has seen many vivacities-liveliness and high-spiritedness, tragedies in plenty.  Nevertheless at ever turn on the tortuous path to retain her soul, regain her breath, the bowl shaped valley located high-up in Himalayas has always provided what was promised by the very nature of her being – peace and tranquility! However, what she cherishes – peace – stands denied by the very forces, she sought co-existence with, on the pledge of-live and let live! The denial by the forces that be-known and un-known led to conflict and elimination of some of her cherished sons, their crime-an attempt to pull the land blessed by the heavens, a heaven itself out of the quagmire, it has sunk into.

Mirwaiz Farooq and Abdul Ghani Lone fell a decade apart, by a queer incidence of fate on the same day-21st of May. Maulana Farooq to bullets fired at close range in his own dwelling and AG Lone, as he was about to leave after addressing a huge congregation in Idgah-the site of mausoleum of martyred Mirwaiz and many others who have laid down their lives to attain for compatriots, a purpose to live and live with dignity, in their own home and hearth and co-exist in harmony with all neighburs, beyond and in the immediate vicinity of her lofty mountains!

Kashmir has her institutions-religious, cultural, nevertheless stands deprived of devising a polity of her own-un-hindered and un-inhibited. Martyred Mirwaiz headed one such institution-a religious office, meant to provide religious guidance and contribute to political discourse. His martyrdom was an attempt to eliminate a politico-religious institution! An institution, which has served Kashmir well for long, one may not agree with the path adopted by this institution in matters religious or political, nevertheless it would be myopic, ill designed and ill thought to ever conceive it as anything but an institution, which has served the society.

Some remarkable individuals worked over centuries of sustained effort to nurture the institution, which is now a part of our social milieu. The genealogical order of ‘Mir-Waiz’ family gets traced to ‘Moulvi Sidiqullah’ who attained fame as an ‘A’khund’ [a religious teacher]. A galaxy of preachers’ followed in succession-Hafiz Abdul Rasool alias ‘A’khund’ Lassa Baba, and his only son, Mirwaiz Moulvi Mohammad Yahya, the first designated Mirwaiz, Mirwaiz Moulvi Rasool Shah, Mirwaiz Maulana Ahmadullah, Mirwaiz Maulana Atiqullah and Mirwaiz Moulvi Yousuf Shah-who got associated with the start of political movement. The movement that unfortunately fragmented-the fragmented polity has never been repaired, apart from short lived patchy efforts, now and then. In 1947, Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah left for Pakistan administered Kashmir and over a period, the Deobandi religious scholar held positions of importance. This was a difficult period for the family in Srinagar, as the politico-religious office stood locked, which opened as Mirwaiz Maulana Farooq assumed office in 1963, to which he gave a new dimension.

Lone on the contrary had humble beginnings, in 1950’s a young man in his formative years from distant North Kashmir was trying to shape a career and winning friends from diverse backgrounds in the town of Sopore and Srinagar. A decade younger than Lone, I had nevertheless the privilege of watching him grow from his student days to a budding politician and ultimately join the ranks of front line leadership. He had an association with my father-Prof. Saif-ud-Din right from his student days-the relationship of teacher and the taught, Lone learned his lessons well-developed a historical sense and Kashmir centric political leaning. Father was fond of relating historical tales with a touch of romance to add spice to it. Like any sensitive Kashmiri, my father was concerned nevertheless assured that with effort, Kashmir would traverse the historical crossroad, however perplexing and get into the right avenues. And effort was what Lone never lacked, laced as it remained with boundless energy. Even as a young boy, I could sense, he meant business. Thus the young man from the border district of Kashmir made rapid strides, graduating in law, but instead of narrow confines of court rooms sought a wider avenue-bar of public opinion to test his prowess.

Abdul Ghani Lone became a deft practitioner of political art; meant to attempt the possible in a given situation! It is in this context that his forays in mainstream politics should be viewed. Moreover politics getting into different streams is a post militancy phenomenon. In 1953, as Sheikh Abdullah was arrested, he got branded as the leader resisting Indian intrusion into Kashmir’s internal autonomy-it was taken as dissent not necessarily separatist’s activity.  Lone’s innings as legislator and minister was by no means, a phase of servility. On a few occasions, I saw him in angry mood after one  stormy sessions in cabinet followed another, where he would call a spade a spade, were an injustice come to fore in allotting funds and developmental works to Kashmir. His arguments were getting to be public knowledge.

Lone’s mainstream foray continued as he joined Abdullah’s post 1975 bandwagon, what was called post-Bangladesh political realism. It was continuation no doubt, albeit with his trade mark combativeness. There were those, posturing to occupy the saddle, once the aging patriarch of Abdullah clan would leave the scene. Lone, with his independent spirit could hardly be tolerated, he wasn’t. There were stray reports of son-in-law, Ghulam Muhammad Shah one of the contenders for succession and Lone exchanging hot words, almost coming to blows. On other occasions goons roughened him up, he sustained a fractured arm. In 1982, as army got into frenzy, roughened scores in civil lines of Srinagar, Lone organized a Lal Chowk protest. Abdullah’s would hardly entertain a rival power center. Lone chalked out an independent course, as Farooq Abdullah followed the patriarch.

Post 89/90 Lone was one of the prime organizers of over ground resistance, as an under ground armed movement widened its wings for the fist time in Kashmir. That was the period when Lone’s political stance forged with that of ‘House of Mirwaiz’ a bastion of resistance, whatever its form. Lone was the prime mover of unity, too. He had an organizational talent; few in resistance were endowed with. Added to that was the uncanny sense of reading a developing political situation. He was one of the earliest to realize that militancy is getting to be an investment with low returns, and a change in strategy might be needed.

There are many analysts, who are of the view that Maulana Farooq visualized undesirable elements creeping into resistance ranks, and before it could be combated, he was targeted. The phase has still to be assessed with precision-the truth and untruth of it; too many stories still make rounds. Maulana Farooq had come a long way from those early days, when the young lad was more interested in cricket than the serious work that the office of Mirwaiz entails. Put up in the forefront of ‘Action Committee’ formed in the wake of lifting of Holy Relic of Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] from its Sanctum Santorum in Hazratbal, Mirwaiz Farooq learned the ropes well, and faster than was anticipated. Cutting an imposing figure, Shamim Ahmad Shamim-the famed writer politician noted him to be the ilk of ‘prince of Abbasid Caliphate’ [Khilafat-i-Abbasiya ka Shahzada] Maulana Farooq lend grace to the office, he inherited. He had his critics; however the posterity would judge his term in office, as the one, which left the religious institutions of Mirwaiz Kashmir, much stronger than what it was, when he took it over. Thus the path was eased for the incumbent-Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, though he took over, while still in his teens, with blood flowing from scores, who were accompanying the bullet ridden mortal remains of his father-the blood that mingled, keeps on mingling!

Kashmir needs peace, the craving for it is universal-the peace that continues to elude, as conflict resolution is not taking affect. Commemorating the martyred is not an end in itself; it imposes a duty on the civil society to see that sacrifices mean a step closer to conflict resolution. Politicians have their constituencies to cater to, their interests may not meet. Civil society has no constituency to cater to, except consciousness. It may not be seen to be taking sides, and while interacting with all and sundry, get glued to none. It may establish liaison with political formations across the board taking recourse to conflict resolution-key to peace in the subcontinent-the ultimate tribute to martyrs, who laid their lives to achieve it!  

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]