‘Hurriyat was born to fragment; it was an artificial wedlock certain to fall apart. Why to lament about it’, commented a friend some two weeks back on my column on birth of the third Hurriyat Conference.
The birth of the third Hurriyat now styled, as Hurriyat Conference, Jammu and Kashmir instead of All Parties Hurriyat Conference was not sudden. It in fact was in incubator since the day Prof. Ghani Bhat first talked about redundancy of the UN resolution guaranteeing right to self-determination and called for forging unity with the National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party and other political parties believing in finality of accession- so far bête noire for the Hurriyat leaders.
The statement, had not ruffled any feather in the M-5, it was believed that this faction also supported statuesque. True, another division in the Hurriyat Conference did not cause a public stir and but it causes number of columns and articles in this newspaper and some other newspapers, and debate on social networks and micro blogs. Many a columnists served as devil’s advocate brought some important points under sharp focus. My instant reaction to the division was positive. I saw it as sieving compromise from steadfastness. I also saw it ending of ambiguity that this multi-party combine has been suffering for past many years. The ambiguity within the combine had not only blurred the goal for which people had been struggling but had also put question mark on the sacrifices offered people for over six decades. At the same time, many posers bothered my mind. Will the third Hurriyat be able to take the movement to the logical conclusion? Can it at least prevent fritting away peoples sacrifices? The most important question that raked my nerves and made me relook at the eighty-one year political movement was why our movement right from 1931 failed at crucial junctures. The only exception in our struggle that could be counted as success has been of appointment of Glancy Commission and execution of its recommendations.
‘History tells in bold letters that the tragedy of Kashmir got perpetuated more because of factors from within than outside. It tells that it has been the division in Kashmir leadership rather than any other factor that has been responsible for the death and destruction that visited this land during past sixty-six years.’
To understand the phenomenon, why the Muslim leadership failed to fight their cause jointly or suffered division after division and how it allowed the divisive forces from within and outside to subvert the political struggling time and again, one needs to fillip to pages of history. The Kashmir Freedom Struggle in fact was born at the turn of nineteenth century in Lahore and Amritsar. It started striking its roots in Jammu in 1922 under the leadership of Chowdary Ghulam Abbass but it chalked out and chartered its first political agenda or manifesto in the shape of the 17-point memorandum presented to Lord Reading during his visit to Srinagar. (This memorandum is today as relevant to us as it was ninety year back). This manifesto found its bold expression in 1931 rebellion against discriminatory and oppressive rule of Maharaja Hari Singh and emerged as an organized movement in 1932, with the birth of the Muslim Conference. It attracted the attention of Muslim intelligentsia all over the sub-continent, its support base widened, and it went beyond the State- then known as country. It got a tremendous response and support from the Muslim press in Punjab. ‘Lahore became a bastion of Kashmir struggle and Allama Iqbal its patron’. The support that this movement gathered throughout the subcontinent not only became cause of worry for the Maharaja but for an important section of the Congress leadership its worry was the new emerging educated class demanding jobs in accordance with population that would adversely affect the employment chances of the class that dominated the government jobs. Immediately, after the appointment of the Glancy Commission and its recommendations becoming public machination started and first crack appeared right in 1932. Many an important Kashmir historians have come up with details how the initial crack in the Muslim Conference caused a permanent division in the Muslim leadership of Kashmir. In this column it has been debated earlier also how crack in 1932, worked as the first ember to cause a tragedy of far greater magnitude that people are suffering to this day.
Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal, greatest benefactor of Kashmiri right at time had visualized how adversely this division in the Muslim leadership was going to affect the newborn struggle of the people of Kashmir. To forge a unity amongst Kashmiri, he wanted to visit Kashmir. The government of Maharaja did not grant him mandatory permit to visit Kashmir. He sent intellectuals like Munishi Siraj-u-Din, Prof. Alim-ud-Din and Mohammad Din Fauq to Kashmir to bring a rapprochement between top leaders of the time. The efforts failed.
The stubborn leadership in did not understand the spirit of Iqbal’s message instead were swayed by the adulation from a different camp. History, after 1932 offered one after another opportunity to Kashmir leadership but it failed to grab an opportunity. In this column culling facts from history, I more than once tried to explain how from Jinnah to Ayub Khan Leaders from other side tried to unite Kashmir leaders but failed- for some leaders suffering from megalomania and others lacking understanding. Seen in retrospect was divisive approach in leadership that befuddled their political thinking. Even in 1964 when history had thrown an opportunity for them, they had no idea what direction what to go. I wish our leaders the deliberation of SMA with team constituted by Nehru for sending proposal to Pakistan for settling Kashmir. Today, there is no Allama Iqbal around to tell Kashmir leaders to do some introspection and see if they doing justice to the history written in blood. Nevertheless, I felt encouraged to see the debate generated after the birth of third Hurriyat. Some opinions were truly pieces wisdom. The Hurriyat leaders needs to read the opinions on their role published in this newspaper with open mind and rethink on their preconceived idea- historically they have failed litmus tests.