When NC called for freedom

It was in 1953 the realisation had dawned on Sher-e-Kashmir that the 1947 arrangement was fragile and detested by most of the people. He tried his best to rectify the wrong. He sought for liberation and urged Nehru to leave Jammu Kashmir alone. However, Nehru responded by ordering his arrest

A report released on April 20 at Islamabad says Sher-e-Kashmir favoured armed struggle for liberation of Jammu Kashmir in 1953. The report compiled by noted historian, Shabnam Qayoom is based on the leader’s speech of July 13, 1953 and has been dedicated to Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah.  Qayoom believes Omar is different from his grandfather and father and has the gut “to probe all killings since 1990.”

In the above quoted speech, Sher-e-Kashmir said, “These martyrs have prepared us for bigger sacrifices to achieve our freedom and our right of self-determination. If required, our youth would not desist from fighting a liberation war on the lines of Algerian people.”
Sher-e-Kashmir also said, “I regret my mistake of coming in the way of merger with Pakistan. I had fears that they won’t treat me well, but I was wrong. Now I feel backstabbed, I no longer trust Indian rulers, we have different ways now.”

Shabnam’s report stands corroborated by Constituent Assembly member, Abdul Gani Goni’s interview with this scribe during the summer uprising of 2008 at his Barazulla residence.

Goni said: “By 1948 Sheikh Sahib had realised his mistake of supporting state’s accession with India. He had started dreaming of an independent state and expressed it without any reservations. During those fateful days, Moulana Azad visited Kashmir. Sheikh Abdullah delivered a fiery speech at Hazratbal. Azad also wanted to address the people but Sheikh Abdullah sabotaged the move. A humiliated and angry Azad immediately left for New Delhi.

Soon after, Nehru came to tame his friend (Sheikh Abdullah). He was accompanied by his sister and Home Minister Dr Katju. They stayed in the Nehru Guest house. In their presence a meeting of the National Conference working committee was held. The working committee session continued for four days. The meeting discussed some vital issues pertaining to Kashmir.  A defiant Sheikh told Nehru in clear terms that he and Kashmiris were not happy with state’s accession to India. He sought an independent state much to Nehru’s annoyance. However, Nehru being a matured politician controlled his anger and urged Sheikh Abdullah to stay patient for some time.  He told Nehru: `I and people of Kashmir are not happy with India. Please leave us alone. We want to remain independent.’

 Nehru reacted politely.  `A park has been named after me in Srinagar. I was under the impression that people from India would come here to enjoy themselves. Anyways, if you want to remain independent, I have no objection. I am going to London for a conference. After I return I will talk to you.’ Nehru did return from London but not to give independence to Kashmir. He had planned to cage the roaring lion of Kashmir.”

 This incident has been narrated by Goni in his autobiography Sada-e-Bazgusht on page 54. “Nobody expected Nehru to arrest and dethrone Sheikh Sahib. Soon after the working committee meeting I went to Doda. In Doda I heard about the arrival of a Union Minister Mahavir Tyagi in Srinagar. He was very close to Bakshi. And what happened is history.”

According to Goni, Sher-e-Kashmir behaved and roared like a lion during the NC working committee meeting held in Nehru Guest House as Nehru and the then home minister watched the proceedings. It was during this meeting that Sher-e-Kashmir demanded total liberation of Jammu Kashmir. However, the roar that created a stir in the entire sub-continent did no good to Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and Kashmir. The caged lion fell from grace slowly but surely. Goni unveiled another side of Sheikh’s personality. Goni was the speaker of legislative assembly in 1975. One day he was informed about Sheikh Sahib’s arrival in the assembly complex.  Goni narrated the incident. “I greeted Sheikh Sahib. He was dejected. He said, `Show me my room.’  I informed him no room in the complex was meant for him. I further informed him that only chief minister can have a room in the assembly complex. I was surprised by his answer. `I want to see that very room.’ I was pained to see the lion of Kashmir in such a state of mind. ”

 Goni paused for a moment. He was going to share a secret. “Before leaving the assembly complex, Sheikh Sahib said, `I have offered enough sacrifices. I cannot offer more.’ I shook hands with him and watched him leave the complex amid shock and utter disbelief.”    

 Goni revealed vital details about the constituent assembly members and their stand viz-a-viz accession of Jammu Kashmir to Indian union. “Please do not make these details public during my life time. Further some of the members are still alive. I do not want to embarrass them”, he requested.  

 Surprisingly Sher-e-Kashmir has not made a mention of his only roar in his Aatish-e-Chinar. He has not mentioned about the working committee meeting as well for unknown reasons.  
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