In April 1962,Nehru had tried to get Abdullah released but was dissuaded by the Bhakshi-B.N.Mulick (Chief of intelligence Bureau in J&K) combination who kept promising imminent success in the Conspiracy case against Abdullah. Had Nehru succeeded in prevailing upon the duo, perhaps the volatile winter of 1963-64 would not have taken place.
The mysterious disappearance of Moi-Muqadas (Holy relic) on 27th December 1963 & its subsequent recovery in the winter of 1963-64, threw up a loose political amalgam under the banner of “Action Committee” . The committee consisted of representatives from all political shades like Plebiscite front, political Conference, Jami at Hamdania & Jamati Islami and for the first time since the break in the 1930s the pro and anti-Abdullah forces shared the same platform. Two young men, both named Farooq, entered the political arena as members of this Committee. One was Mir-waiz Maulvi Mohammad Farooq (the slain father of pro-freedom leader Omar Farooq) & the other Sheikh Farooq later to become more famous as Farooq Abdullah. Mir-waiz Maulvi Mohammad Farooq was made head of this Committee.
The committee soon donned the political cap. Every speech from every corner not only demanded the recovery of Holy relic & arrest of “Asli Mulzim” (in some speeches hint was clearly at Bhakshi, the former Prime Minster) but also the release of Sheikh Abdullah. Wall Poster s called for UN intervention and formation of a panel of Judges from three Muslim Countries to try the accused. This international dimension made India nervous.
On 3rd Jannuary 1964,Sheikh Abdullah wrote a letter from Jail to President Radhakrishnan noting the possibility of a political angle behind the sacrilege and demanding a review of Kashmir policy since 1953.His hint was clearly at Bhakshi. Bhakshi heeding to intelligence inputs & preferring discretion to valour left valley quietly on 4th Jan. On the same day Sadri-Riyasat, Dr. Karan Singh reached Srinagar sparking rumors about the imminent dismissal of Wazir-i-Azam, Shamas-uddin. But that was not to be. Karan Singh had a well thought out plan to diffuse the situation, India was desperately looking for. He immediately visited Hazratbal and also organized prayers in all the temples for recovery of Mo-e-Muqadas. Though by now Delhi had decided to replace Shamas-uddin, but it did not have an alternative option or a suitable candidate to occupy the hot seat. An offer made earlier to Mir Qasim, had been turned down by him. Perhaps he may have accepted it if he had fore-known what was going to happen on 4th of Jannuary, the day when Moi-Muqadas was eventually recovered. The option of imposing Governor’s rule was also considered but not exercised in view of apprehensions expressed in certain international forums that removal of Moi-Muqadas was in fact a ploy to rehabilitate Karan Singh.
After the Holy relic was recovered on 4th Jannuary, The action Committee met Dr. Karan Singh on 7th Jannuary to press for a special session for its Identification. The demand was conceded and a special committee under the chairmanship of Mir Mubarak Shah, a spiritual sage formed which eventually testified about the geneuiness of Holy relic.
Meanwhile desperate to change the Wazir-i-Azam, Lal Bhadur Shastri was sent to Jammu and a meeting of Legislature party held at Bhakshi’s official residence in which G. M.Sadiq, a politician without any grass root connection but willing to take on Abdullah politically, was chosen as new leader of Legislature party . On 28th Feberuary,G.M.Sadiq, was anointed as next Prime Minster of Kashmir. New-Delhi also decided to break the Action Committee before it becomes a major political force to reckon with. D.P.Dhar was assigned the task of launching a covert operation to achieve the purpose.
On 4th March ,The action Committee passed a unanimous resolution at Jamia Masjid seeking right of self determination for the people of J&K in accordance with UN resolutions. On 13th March another meeting of the Committee, to chart future course of action, was held at Mir-waiz Manzil reiterating its stand for right of self determination and decided to hold a public meeting on 17th March. Among other persons, Dr. Farooq Abdullah also attended this meeting. Meanwhile, the next day a meeting took place between representatives of Mir-waiz Maulana Farooq & D.P.Dhar and the scheduled public meeting of 17th March was postponed to 22nd. On morning of 21st March, the office bearers of action Committee, for unknown reasons, announced the cancellation of meeting scheduled for 22nd. This decision was resented by many members of the committee, representing various shades of political opinion, who decided to go head with the meeting .When this meeting started at Zadibal as per earlier schedule, there was a commotion. The agent provocateurs had already taken their positions. Karra of Political Conference & Hamdani of Jamiat Hamdani were assaulted . Gh. Mohd Shah of plebescite front was seen blaming & hurling invectives at Ghulam Ahmad Ashai & Maulana Masoodi for the chaos. There were allegations & counter allegations. And that incident signaled the end of Action Committee. The behind-the –scene machinations of D.P.Dhar were easily discernible.
Though New-Delhi achieved the goal of breaking the Political united front but the sordid episode convinced Nehru that he had been wrong to succumb repeatedly to Bhakshi-Mullick advice and he began clearing path for Abdullah’s release. Sadiq was advised to frame a strategy in tune with this policy of New-Delhi. He issued a press statement on 5th April saying that Conspiracy case against Abdullah would be withdrawn which meant his imminent release. That afternoon, Nehru explained to a Cabinet committee comprising of Gulzari Lal Nanda, TT Krishnamachari, Shastri and A.K.Sen that if sixteen years from accession, kashmiris could rise against the Govt. like this, then there was something fundamentally wrong with Kashmir policy. To M.J.Desai, Secretary General in External Affairs Minstry, who was still repeating the conspiracy case, Nehru furiously told “ if a damned thing can’t be proved in four or six years there is obviously nothing to be proved”
On 8th April Abdullah was finally set free in Jammu. Nehru would like him to visit Delhi first but Abdullah had other plans. Among the first dignitaries to visit him in Jammu was Sadiq, the newly anointed Prime Minster of Kashmir. Bhakshi was in Jammu & Abdullah visited him to offer his condolences on the death of his mother, a few months earlier.This inspite of the fact that Tarki-Mawalat (Social bycott) against him was in force and his followers were meticulously following it in whole State. It is also interesting to note that Abdullah on a later occasion rebuked Maulana Mohd. Farooq for visiting Bhakshi to offer condolences thus violating Social bycott programme, a crime Abdullah himself had committed .
Abdullah reached Sringar admist a tumultuous welcome. But he was concerned about the rise of alternative political leadership of Moulvi Dynasty whome he thought had demolished in 1947 itself. It is the same dynasty which had provided a political platform to Master Abdullah in thirties which transformed him into Lion of Kashmir. No wonder then the State once again witnessed the rise of ugly head of Sher-Bakra riots with more vengenence & frequency. Many innocent lives were lost to this mindless violence. But all said & done, credit goes to the duo of Moulvi Farooq & Farooq Abdullah (Double Farooq) of eradicating this menace of Sher-Bakra rivalry in Srinagar in Nineties.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at email@example.com)