Causes that marked 13 July,1931 , a black day in the History of Kashmir

IMMEDIATE  CAUSES

Looking from within, the 1931 uprising was preceded by many important developments like Shawl baaf Agitation, silk factory agitation, Kashmir committee formation, Mulki agitation , which suggest that emancipative forces were already at work in Kashmir, but  according to Khalid Basheer Ahmed, the deep resentment of the masses building up as it were for long exploded on 13 July 1931 . The National movement in Kashmir some sensational developments took place one after another helping its leaders to mobilize masses openly which had been waiting since its inception. There were mostly seven immediate causes responsible for the outburst.

1) According To G.M.Lone, A leading land-holder in Udhampur Jammu embraced Islam. The Hindu Tehsildar sanctioned a fresh mutation of his lands, eliminated his name and mutated the same in the name of his brother. He filed a suit which was dismissed with the remarks that unless he re-entered Hindu faith, he was not entitled to any property. This was done in accordance with a decree issued by the Dogra Government on 31st December 1882

2) Hindus had demolished a Mosque in Riasi in Jammu Province with the approval of the Maharaja’s government.

3) Banning Friday sermon at Jammu :  On 29 April 1931 ,Muslim at Jammu while offering Eid prayers , the Dogra DIG Chowdry Ram Chand  and another police officer ,Babu Khem Chand ,told the imam Atta Ullah Shah Bukhari (or Mufti Muhammad Ishaque ) to stop the mandatory Friday khutbah in which he spoke about the cruel king of ancient Egypt Pharoah as indicated in Quran  and accused him of making the political speech against the king.A young man Mir Hussain Bakhsh stood up to defy the ban and addressing the people told them that the Government had been guilty of interference in their religion. The cry was taken up by the congregation; they marched in a procession to the city’s main Masjid where a brief meeting was held condemning the incident. Chowdary Gowhar Rehman, secretary of newly established Young Men’s Muslim Association took a serious exception to this religious interference and held a protest meeting (Weekly The Kashmiri Musalmaan, Lahore, 10 May 1931).

The meeting was addressed by Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas Khan, Sardar Gauhar Rehman Khan, and Mistri Yakub Ali. Holding protest meetings from now on became quite frequent. The Muslims brought a complaint in the court of Additional District Magistrate under section 296 ,Ranbir Penal Code against the Hindu inspector for disturbing a religious assembly which was dismissed, as the Hindu Magistrate held that Khutba was not a part of the prayers. A large crowd of Hindus who were present in the court premises raised the slogans: “Khem Chand Zindabad” and “Hindu Dharam Ki Jai”.

4) In another incidence, the upper caste Hindus in the Dagora Village of  Samba stopped Muslim from drawing water from a tank for performing ablution for Eid prayer.

5)Another incident, on 4th June in the Central Jail Jammu. According to daily “Inquilab” dated 1/7/1931, one Fazal Dad Khan, a police constable from Mirpur, was sitting on a cot when a Head Warder, Balak Ram, reprimanded him for being late on duty. In the meantime came one Labhu Ram Sub-Inspector who threw away his bedding in a fit of recklessness. It contained a copy of Panj Surah (five chapters from Holy Quran). Fazal Dad approached the Young Men’s Muslim Association. (Khan, Freedom movement in Kashmir, p.126). The Youngmen‟s Muslim Association at once issued a poster, calling upon all the Muslims of the State to hold protest meetings. The valley Muslim respond to call positively, and started peaceful protests.

On 6th June, deputed G.E.C. Wakefield, his political Minister, to go there and investigate the matter. Wakefield met the representatives of all the eight Islamia Anjuman  of Jammu on 9th June. He asked them to choose two members, and, along with them, investigated the whole matter the next day. Yet, in a Press Communiqué, the Maharaja deplored the incident, and, on the recommendation of the Enquiry Committee, retired Labhaya Ram from service.( Resident to Pol. Secy, Government of India, July 11, 1931, File No.35-P(Sec)/1931; Rough Note on Political Situation op.cit., pp.2-3)

6) The sixth incident took place in Srinagar on 20th June 1931 when leaves of the Holy Quran were found in a public latrine. No Muslim could ever dare do that.

Mirwaiz Muhammad Yousuf Shah at a public meeting held at Hazratbal said: “If we are arrested there is nothing for you to fear. If ten of us are arrested, the other ten must be prepared to take our places”.

7) Naturally concerned at these ominous developments, Maharaja Hari Singh had, some days ago invited a deputation of Muslims from both Jammu and Kashmir to meet him for talks. But while Youngmen‟s Muslim Association of Jammu chose four members of their deputation, namely, Mistri Yaqub Ali, Sardar Gohar Rahman, Chowdhry Ghulam Abbas and Sheikh Abdul Majid in a small meeting . On contrary , the valley based leaders decided to call for public meeting to reach a consensus for  future discourse Government, and also to foster unity among the otherwise divided ranks among themselves.  Accordingly, convened a public meeting at the Khanqahi Mualla of Srinagar on 21st June.( Abdullah, Sheikh Mohammed, Atish-i-Chinar (Urdu), op.cit., pp.80-82.). About one lakh of Muslims were said to have gathered by this time and the Sheikh, then, one by one announced the names of seven men and got the approval of the gathering for their inclusion in the deputation which was to meet the Maharaja.

The members included Saad-ud-Din Shawl, Mirwaiz Moulvi Yusuf Shah, Mirwaiz Ahmadullah Hamdani, Aga Syed Hasan Jalali, Khawaja Ghulam Ahmad Ashai, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and MunshiShahab-ud-Din.

Mirwaiz Yousuf  introduced Master Abdullah to Kashmir :

  1. A) According to , G. H. Khan, op. cit. p. 127, Aatish-i-Chinar ,’’On June 8,1931, a protest demonstration was organized at Jamia Masjid , It was at this time that Sheikh Abdullah, who was afterwards to become an undisputed leader of the people, was introduced to the audience by Molvi Mohammad Yusuf Shah, recently succeeded to the position after his uncle’s death in early 1931’’.
  2. B) According to Lamb, op. cit., p. 91,Abdullah appeared at this time to have been an extremely devout, and highly orthodox Muslim and, as such to have won the affection and approbation of Mirwaiz Mohammad Yusuf Shah.
  3. C) According to, Hafiz Mohammed Ismail, op. cit, June 9,1931 item 1,’’ Shaikh Abdullah made his maiden speech to a gathering of seven thousand people,’’ and to quote , Aatish-i-Chinar, p. 71,’’after that he was introduced by Mirwaiz as “My leader.”
  4. D) According to , Sadat, Rozana Diary, p. 694-5, to quote ,Aatish-i-Chinar, p.79,’’ Now encouraged by the enormous mass support and fully backed by the Mirwaiz Mohammad Yusuf, who extended the Jamia Masjid as the organizational centre for his political activities, Shaikh Abdullah organized public meetings in different parts of Srinagar city which used to be attended by thousands of people’’.
  5. E) According to ,Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz , Bazaz, Struggle for Freedom, P. 145 ,One such public meeting was called in the Khanqah-i-Mohalla on 21th June 1931 to ratify the selection of Kashmir Muslim representatives.
  6. F) Anjuman Nusratul Islam : According to, Shah Hafiz Mohammad Ismail June, 20, item I ,’’A list of representation was already formulated on June 20, 1931 at the office of Anjummi-i-Nusrat-ul-Islam,under the leadership of Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah .’’ These representatives were expected to submit the grievances and demands of the community to the Maharaja at the suggestion of G. E. C. Wakefield, Political Minister “This gathering”, in the words of the Shaikh, Aatish-i-Chinar, p. 142 ,”should be considered the formal inauguration of the freedom movement of Kashmir.”  It was at this historical gathering that a body of the Muslim representatives was ratified.

GAZI ABDUL QADIR KHAN :- According to historian Zahir-Ud-Din, when the meeting was about to close, Abdul Qadir Khan, who was a Kashmiri as per him, Abdul Qadeer Khan delivered his historic speech at this function. When the leaders dispersed a young man appeared on the podium and started chanting slogans against Hindus. He said: “Listen. Time has come when we have to act, requests and memoranda will serve no purpose at this point in time. It will not end tyranny and it will not end desecration of Quran. Stand up upon your legs and fight the tyrant rulers.” He pointed towards Raj Mahal (Palace) and said: “Raze it to the ground.”(Sheikh Abdullah, Aatish e Chinar, 61).

There are many version about Abdul Qadir Khan, some believe Abdul Qadeer was an employee of an English army officer, Major Butt of the Yorkshire Regiment then posted at Peshawar, hailed from Swat (Many versions about his origin). He had come to Srinagar with his employer who was a casual visitor on leave from the army wanting to spend the hot summer in the cool climate of Kashmir. He was staying in a houseboat in Naseem Bagh. For most of the writers, he was an Afghan who cooked meals for an Englishman in Srinagar. Author Shabnum Qayoom writes that he came from Meerut, UP and was inspired by a British officer (Qayoom says in his Kashmir KaSiyasiInquilabvol 1 page 50). Most recently, a man from  Islamabad  Pakistan Abdul Saboor Khan claimed to be the son of Abdul Qadeer, , he talked to a Valley-based columnist, Peer Meiraj-ud-Din in 2007. The Islamabad columnist had a detailed interview with Saboor Khan. According to him Qadeer was a Kashmiri and worked as a cook with a Britisher.  “We are descendants of Afghans who migrated to Kashmir some three hundred years ago and settled at Gutli Bagh near Ganderbal. Our relatives still live there”, he said.

Qadeer married a woman from Bandipora, who later gave birth to Saboor Khan.  Saboor was very young when Qadeer died and “was buried at a place between Gonikhan and Lal Ded hospital.” No effort has been made by any quarter till date to locate his grave.

Zahir-Ud-Din,a valley based journalist and historian  brings another anecdote to prove his claim, Professor Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Shah of Hathi Khan Mohalla, who passed away last week, said that before joining Higher Education Department he was in the police for a brief stint. “One day I was going through a file when a man with a fair complexion walked into my office. My colleagues simply ignored him. After some time, he introduced himself as Qadeer’s brother.  I looked at him curiously. He was wearing a ring on the right ear. Qadeer was a household name in Kashmir then. I offered him a chair and ordered tea for him. He had come to my office regarding some problems in his job; he was an employee in the police department.  Since in Kashmir a non-state subject can’t get a job, particularly in those times when the state subject law was strictly enforced, it is clear that Qadeer was a Kashmiri.”   .I myself  wonder that how can a non-Kashmiri who don’t know Kashmiri language influence thousands of Kashmiri Muslims who are not well versed with Urdu or  Pashtu language at that time, so I am in agreement with opinion of Zahir-Ud-Din ,that Qadir Khan was a Kashmiri .

GAZI ABDUL QADIR ARRESTED:- The fiery speech of resulted in Qadeer’s arrest and trial. His speech was recorded by the CID and when he returned to Naseem Bagh in the dead of night, he was followed by the Gestapo and arrested on 25th June from the house-boat of his employer and charged under section 124-A (treason) and 153 of the Ranbir Panel Code. It must be noted along with CID, The District Magistrate had deputed city magistrate, Pandit Sat Lal to attend the meeting in his official capacity. During the four hearings on the 4th, 6th, 7th and 9th, a large number of Muslims would assemble in the compound of the Court to witness this trial and to express their solidarity with their hero. Finding the atmosphere quite volatile the session judge shifted the venue of a trial from the court to central jail which was more secure to control the crowd but the masses insisted on the open trial.

According to Fida Hassnain, On the 13th of July 1931, the trial of Abdul Qadeer Khan Ghazi was held in the Srinagar Jail premises. The Deputy Inspector of Police came to the site of the trial with one Inspector, two Sub Inspectors, five Head Constables, and 44 policemen. Out of this force, 22 policemen were armed with rifles and the rest with clubs, while the Inspectors had revolvers. In addition to the above reinforcement, the Jail forces comprised 119 policemen armed with bamboo canes and 19 policemen with rifles. Before the arrival of the Session Judge, a large gathering of the Muslim had gathered on the road leading to the Jail compound. When the Judge arrived in his car, escorted by the police they shouted these slogans: ‘Our brother from Raibareli! Release Abdul Qadeer!Our brother from Rawalpindi! We will go to the jail. Imprison us instead’

Polymath Molvi Abdullah Vakil, an Ahmadi scholar and Mohsin-e- Kashmir took over as defence lawyer along with team Comprising of Pir Qamalud Din, and Ghulam Mohammad BA LLB. In the meantime, jail official informed the governor, Raizada Trilok Chand about the matter. By 12:45, the Muezzin gave the call to prayer and the people started the Zuhr prayer. At this stage, at 1:00 pm. Muslims began lining up for their noon prayers. The police arrested five men and this incensed the people further. One of them, named Khawaja Abdul Khaliq Shora, stood up and recited the Azan loudly.  A policeman promptly shot him dead, such Was the euphoria that he was quickly replaced by another person who continued with the call to prayer and he too was shot dead by two rows of policemen and in this way, 17 daredevils were martyred and 5 more among the hundreds injured the succumbed to injuries later on. This was first Adhan of the world which took 22 lives to be completed. Protesters made a flag of the soaked shirt of the martyr, lifted them on the charpoy and proceeded towards Jamia Masjid.

When one of the martyrs of 13th July 1931 who had not as yet breathed his last , had reportedly told Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah “ I have done my duty and now your proceed ahead”. 81 years down the line in 2018, that call of the martyr is yet to be fullfilled by Abdullahs. The Hindu, Daily Tribune, dated 28th July 1931, admitted the loss of 21 Muslims in the firing the scene was very grim. There was wide condemnation to this state-led massacre.

Next day on 14th July, Hari Singh appointed an inquiry commission under chief justice of J&K High Court  Barjour Dalal and a non –official Muslim and Hindu each as commissioner. Khawaja Saadud Din shawl was selected as commissioner but he tendered his resignation then Ghulam Ahmed Ashai was substituted in his place, but he too resigned cited the formers reason that they did not believe the inquiry commission.

Martyrs of 13th July 1931

  1. KhaliqShora
  2. Akbar Dar
  3. Ghulam Ahmad Rather
  4. UsmanMisgar
  5. Ghulam Ahmad Bhat
  6. Ghulam M Halwai
  7. GhulamNabiKalwal
  8. Ghulam Ahmad Naqash
  9. GhulamRasool Durra
  10. Ameer-ud-Din Makayi
  11. SubhanMakayi
  12. GhulamQadir Khan
  13. RamzanChola
  14. Ghulam Mohammad Sofi
  15. Naseer-ud-Din
  16. Ameer-ud-Din Jandgaru
  17. Mohammad Subhan Khan
  18. Mohammad Sultan Khan
  19. Abdul Salam
  20. Ghulam Mohammad Teli
  21. Fakeer Ali
  22. Ghulam Ahmad Dar
  23. Mughli
  24. Abdullah Ahanger

At the suggestion of Khawaja Noor Shah, all the martyrs were buried in the compound of Ziarat Naqshbandi Sahib, Khanyar. As per Fida Hassnain, The soldiers arrested about 700 Muslims in the city. The next day the leaders of the Muslims, namely Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Chaudhary Ghulam Abbas, Moulvi Abdul Rahim, Sardar Gohar Rehman were arrested and Sheikh Sahib was locked in a solitary cell of the Hari Parbat Fort. As a protest against these atrocities, the whole valley of Kashmir observed Hartal for 19 days.

The Maharaja had failed to curb this upsurge and as such he decided to make changes in the administration. He appointed Pandit Hari Kishan Koul as the new Prime Minister of the State and issued orders for the release all political prisoners except Abdul Qadeer Khan Ghazi who was given five years rigorous imprisonment and later murdered in the jail only according to Fida Hussain.

To be continued

Dr. Eshraf Zainulabideen can be reached at zainlala69@gmail.com