On The Way to Golden Harvests is a mystery that has been explored and revealed by Mirza Mohammad Afzal Beg in the form of presenting historical evidence of his era besides giving space to the reforms . The book guides us about the abolition of landed estates that led to the equal distribution of land resources. It was on the 13th of July, 1950, at the historic Ceremony of Martyrs’ Day, that Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah announced that whoever tills the land will enjoy the produce. By virtue of ‘The Abolition of Big Landed Estates Act’, almost 55 lakh kanals of land were transferred at once to the tillers. “One person’s blood cannot be wine to another”. He goes on to say that “The land of God will be given to the men of God.” The book is a complete capsule of our past that witnessed the freeing of the peasantry from the depredations of the Jaghirdars and transferring land to the tillers without compensation, which in reciprocity laid a firm foundation for the economy of J & K State.
An additional Foreword of the book is an eyewitness account of the era that has been very seriously drafted to add up the information to make this book a complete package of our past. Mr. Mehboob Beg has brought down a few stunning realities of the era he has witnessed during his associations with his father.
Chapter 1: Social and Economic Orders of the Present Age and Our Decision guides us through how the abolition of Jaghirdari and Chakdari and absentee landlordism were annihilated.
Chapter 2, The Period of Privileges Through Jaghirdari, the author has summed up the measures taken by the Ministry of Revenue to abolish Jagirs, Muafis, and Mukarraries. The chapter highlights how the Maharaja of J & K appointed a Committee for Jagirs and Muafis to promote and strengthen the basis of feudalism. The privileges of the Jagirdar and the Muafidar have been elaborated on in this chapter.
The End of Feudal Privileges: The Third Chapter makes it clear how the government took steps to over-haul the agriculture system to an extent of 75 acres as Khudkast (self-cultivation) and residential units. The Jaghirdars were granted ownership rights to agricultural lands provided in the chapter is shocking. There are 396 in total, with a total revenue of Rs. 5,56,313 raised from land revenue. The sum of every half a million went to these “Do nothings” instead of the government treasury. The immediate abolition of jagirs and muafis not only saved such a huge amount but also relieved the peasants.
In the Chapter 4 Chenani and Poonch Jagirs, M.M.A.Beg has thrown light on the background against which the autocratic government held out in challenge. Beg sahib further writes,
The state took over the administrative control and assumed the reins of normal governmental direction. The Jagirdar was given Rs 200 for himself and Rs 100 for his family. Thus, with one stroke, the fetters broke and the people of Chenani were released.
The conditions of the tenants in Chapter 5 – Land and Land Tenures. The chapter brings out some bone chilling realities:
The peasant was subjected to ruthless penalties , despite threats of starvation, he dared to use a little corn for his daily use. His mouth was searched lest he had a few grains hidden in it. If it could be proved that he had even swallowed a few grains, then no means of punishment were spared to humiliate him.
The Protection of the Rights of the Tenants has brought down the hopeful steps taken by the then government. The new law that was implemented protected the interests of cultivators who were neither occupancy tenants nor protected tenants. A remarkable social revolution took place place. The book further provided information on how the Kashmir government ended the contract system and instead issued licenses to pick, extract, and collect water-nuts. Twenty-five villages around Wular Lake were directly affected by the new method. The most striking feature of the book is the detailed comparative study of agricultural architecture of the past. Right from British rule, the agricultural policy of the state was so adapted that it deprived the actual rights to cultivators and, during Mughal times, the realisation of state dues was left to the revenue farmers. The chapter further reflects upon the efforts of the government to protect the people from all dangers of disruption and disorder.
The End of Landlordism and the Historical Reforms reveal how on selected terms the government formulated a committee that not only helped to put an end to the Landlordism but also promoted some reforms.
The book encourages us to roam round the lanes of the past wherein the agony, atrocities, and plight of the people of Kashmir have been vividly presented by the firsthand experience of Mirza M.A. Beg. The book has been published by Jay Kay Books, who have once again proved for what they stand–the heritage we preserve.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Mushtaque B Barq
Mushtaq B.Barq is a Columnist, Poet and Fiction Writer. He is the author of “Feeble prisoner, “ Wings of Love” and many translation works are credited to the author like “ Verses Of Wahab