Mujahid-e-Millat

Dalal came to be known as Mujahid-e-Millat and became very popular across Kashmir. He became Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah’s political advisor. His capabilities were put to test when Mirwaiz migrated from the Valley

The founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah visited Kashmir in 1944. He spent quite some time in Srinagar. His motorcade was attacked by National Conference workers led by Maqbool Sherwani near Uri. The Muslim Conference workers took serious note of the incident and vowed to teach National Conference a lesson.

Two years later, Jawaharlal Nehru visited Srinagar. Sher-e-Kashmir took him in a boat rally to the interiors of the city. Nehru was greeted with worn out shoes, stones and garbage. They also chanted slogans against Sheikh Abdullah, Nehru and other leaders. Angered the National Conference workers led by Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad stormed the area around Musa Ghat near Maharaj Gunj. A person identified as Salam Darzi got killed. The police registered a case and arrested Abdul Salam Dalal. This incident speaks volumes about his popularity. He was awarded five years rigorous imprisonment. However, he preferred an appeal and was acquitted by the High Court. When he came out of prison, people had conferred the title of Mujahid-e-Millat on him.   

Nobody, not even his family members, know his exact date of birth. He died at a tender age of 36 years on May 13, 1951. His year of birth, therefore, was 1915.  He was to a well off family of Rozbal Khanyar. He did his matriculation from Islamia High School, Rajouri Kadal and then joined FSC (Medical stream) in SP College, Srinagar.”

Dalal was a born-revolutionary. He organized protest rallies and processions against the autocratic Dogra rule and was imprisoned several times. Dalal and his associates were also taken into custody for launching a movement against ban on cow slaughter. The detention lasted eleven months. Although the detention had an adverse affect on Dalal’s studies, he got an opportunity to understand life and the freedom movement in a wider perspective. He, however, could not complete his graduation.

Dalal shot into prominence in 1937 when some Pandits resorted to blasphemy. He addressed the people several times. The authorities took him into custody and he was awarded 10 months imprisonment. His father Ahadullah Joo Dalal persuaded him to join his ancestral business. He established the business (Pashmina, Zari works etc) at Maharaj Gunj near the tomb of Budshah (Sultan Zain ul Abideen). The flourishing business did not deter Dalal from participating actively in the movement. The valiant soldier was detained several times. He was also fined.

Meanwhile, a prominent revolutionary, Ashiq Husain, launched Jammu Kashmir Muslim League on May 9, 1939. Dalal was nominated its Joint Secretary. He rose to the position of General Secretary and gave some sleepless nights to the authorities. Being a very good orator, he was chosen by the leadership to attend conferences where he put forth his views effectively. He also became a member of Anjuman-e-Nusratul Islam and founded ‘night schools’ to educate working artisans. He provided the much needed funds for this venture and made latest publications available in these schools.

Dalal came to be known as Mujahid-e-Millat and became very popular across Kashmir. He became Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah’s political advisor. His capabilities were put to test when Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah migrated from the Valley. Other leaders were also externed by Sher-e-Kashmir. He ran the show effectively for quite some time under the banner of Muslim Conference. Salam spent most of his time in jails or in hiding. He married the daughter of Sheikh Ghulam Qadir of Drugjan, Dalgate. His wife was also a prominent freedom fighter and actively participated in the freedom struggle.

One day when he was hiding in the house of Ghulam Muhammad Vakil of Aali Kadal, Srinagar, police raided the house. Vakil felt scared but Dalal consoled him by saying, “Do not worry. Allah is with us.” Dalal jumped out of the window and is believed to have sustained internal injuries in his stomach and intestines as a result of the fall. Dalal never recovered after that fall. Sodabicarb was administered to him in large quantities which affect his health adversely.
The ailment was diagnosed as ‘severe Peptic Ulcer’. He was admitted in SMHS hospital where he breathed his last on May 31, 1951. At the time of death, he was only 36. He was laid to rest at his ancestral graveyard in Rozabal.  (As narrated by Professor Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Shah of Hathi Khan, Kathidarwaza). The learned professor who worked with Dalal breathed his last recently.  

The Muslim Conference got weakened in 1947 when the leadership was exiled to Pakistan. During those eventful days, some leaders from Jammu accused Dalal of having a truck with the authorities. But Professor Shah strongly denied the allegations. “Dalal spent several years in prison or in hiding. If he had a truck with the authorities, they should not have taken him into custody repeatedly”, he said.

Some people believe that Dalal was poisoned by his political rivals. However, his son Abdul Rouf and Professor Shah reject this version as ‘ridiculous’. Some admirers of Salam Dalal say Chowdhury Ghulam Abbas came to Srinagar on a “secret mission” in 1958. After meeting Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, he was taken to Rozabal graveyard (on his request) to offer Fatehah to Mujahid-e-Millat. However, Professor Shah rejects this version as well. “Chowdhury Abbas never visited Kashmir after his exile”, he made clear.

Dalal’s widow had no one to fall back upon. However, Begum Zaffar Ali, the mother of noted academician, Aga Ashraf Ali, got him appointed as a government teacher. His younger son expired when he had yet to complete the first year of his life. His elder son is a practicing lawyer in the Jammu Kashmir High Court.
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