Qadeer was a Kashmiri

Qadeer was neither a disciple of Jamal-ud-Din Afghani nor a resident of Uttar Pradesh. Influenced by the Ahrar movement, Qadeer had his roots in Kashmir and lived at Gutli Bagh (Ganderbal)

Much has been written and said about Abdul Qadeer Khan but to this day nobody knows who he was and what happened to him.   The people who wrote the history of Kashmir have unfortunately made a passing reference of the person who changed the course of Kashmir history on June 21, 1931. He deserves a better deal. But before glorifying him, it is necessary to know who he was and where did he come from. The historians have put forth different stories.  Some say he was an Afghani and worked as a cook with a Britisher.  Some believe he hailed from Rampur area of Uttar Pradesh (UP). However, there are others who say Qadeer was basically a Kashmiri.

Shabnam Qayoom, the noted Kashmiri historian who won acclaim for his Kashmir Ka Siyasi Inqilaab during an interaction with the author said: “I undertook extensive research for my book. I travelled to Rampur to know about Qadeer. The elders told me Qadeer was born in Rampur but left his native land during his early childhood.  They, however, could not tell him about his father, whether he came back or maintained any communication with his family.”

Qayoom rejects all other versions. “I am the only person who has travelled thousands of miles to know about him. My findings are based on research.”

Professor Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Shah of Hathi Khan, however, has an entirely different story to tell. During an interview with the author on May 18, 2007 at his residence, the learned professor said: “Before joining the higher education department, I served the police department for a while. One day when I was lost in a file, a man with wheatish complexion walked in. My colleagues simply ignored him. After some time, he introduced himself as Qadeer’s brother.  I looked at him curiously. He had a ring in his right ear. Qadeer was a household name in Kashmir then. I offered him chair and ordered tea for him. He had come to my office in connection with his employment woes. He was an employee of the police department.  Kashmir is a place where state subject law is enforced strictly. No outsider can be an employee of the state government or its agencies.  This confirms that Qadeer was a Kashmiri.”

Noted historian, Fida Muhammad Hasnain says Qadeer was a disciple of Jaml-ud-Din Afghani. Dr Sheikh Showkat, who teaches law in Kashmir University, holds similar views. However, both of them fail to quote the source of their information.

A friend, Peer Mairaj-ud-Din happened to see an old man at Islamabad (Pakistan) two years ago. He spoke good Kashmiri. After interacting with him for a while, Peer Mairaj solved a big mystery. The old man interacting with him was Qadeer’s son, Abdul Saboor Khan Durani.  He narrated his story as follows: “It was my father Abdul Qadeer Khan Durani who addressed the people at Khankah-e-Moula on June 21, 1931 and changed the course of freedom struggle. We lived at Gutli Bagh (Ganderbal). My mother hailed from Kaloosa, Bandipora. He worked as a cook with a Britisher who had come to the valley in those turbulent times. My relatives still live at Gutli Bagh.  They have been living there for the past 300 years after their migration from Afghanistan.”

Saboor Khan paused for a moment. It seemed he was overwhelmed by emotions. But he soon pulled himself together and continued his tale. “My mother’s name was Ayesha and she was born to Malik family of Kaloosa, Bandipora.  My sister’s name was Noora”, he said.

Saboor Khan makes a mention of his father’s martyrdom but did not know how he was martyred, when and where. He did not also mention where Qadeer was laid to rest.  “When 22 Kashmiris fell to bullets outside Srinagar Central Jail on July 13, 1931, I was just a five-year-old chap. My mother, Ayesha told me about my father. He (Qadeer) could speak Kashmiri and was influenced by the Ahrar leaders”, he said.   

Saboor narrated how he was brought up and how he started taking part in the freedom struggle of Kashmir. “After my father’s martyrdom, I was brought up by a renowned scholar Moulana Wafai who took me to his house at Shopian.  I lived with him for two years. He later sent me to Moulana Abdul Gani of Kupwara. Gani was a close relative of Moulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri. I lived for three years at Kupwara. Later I was sent to Mian Marg, Gilgat where I stayed for five years. From Mian Marg I came back to Kaloosa, Bandipora where I stayed with my maternal uncles. Finally I shifted to Srinagar and lived at Barbar Shah area. My mother and sister also lived with me.”

Peer Mairaj made Saboor go down the memory lane. Reluctantly he talked about his political activities, his leaders, arrest and marriage. “Soon after landing of Indian troops in Kashmir in 1947, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah became the emergency administrator.  A few years later I became a member of political Conference and was arrested from Delhi Muslim Hotel, Amira Kadal along with Muhammad Amin Nehvi Advocate, Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Sulati Advocate, Abdul Rehman Shagoo, Abdul Hamid Karra, Ghulam Qadir Hawa Baz and Professor Mohi-ud-Din Hajni. We were shifted to Badami Bagh where all of us were severely tortured.  The then DIG, Qadir Ganderbali used to call me Reye Badshah (Ant King) because I would climb poles like an ant to hoist flags.”

Saboor Khan was released after a while. Just fifteen days before his arrest, Saboor had married Fatima the daughter of late Assadullah Mir of Aloocha Bagh, Srinagar. After his release, Saboor went underground for several years. However, he was arrested and after a month of detention was externed. He entered Pakistan administrated Kashmir from Uri and got involved in the movement against Qadyanies. He was arrested and detained at Lahore. After his release he came back to Kashmir. His wife had left him. A shocked Saboor went underground for two years after divorcing his wife.  Finally he succeeded in crossing eh cease-fire line and entered Pakistan where he lives till date. Alas! He could not attend the funeral of his mother and sister. For several years I would receive letters from my relatives in Kashmir. But now the process has stopped.

After his June 21, 1931 speech at Khankah-e-Moula, Qadeer was arrested and put on trial. On July 13, 1931 when a lot of people assembled outside the Central jail to express solidarity with Qadeer, the Dogra soldiers opened fire and killed 22 persons on the spot.  Scores sustained injuries. The incident changed the course of Kashmir history.

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