The Two Conferences Of Jammu And Kashmir
By Yasir Altaf Zargar
15 March, 2015
The All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference which once was known as All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference for the period of seven years was founded by Sheikh Abdullah who is also known as “Lion of Kashmir”. Sheikh played a significant role in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. He remained Kashmiri’s popular politician. He started his debut political career, when he joined the relentless struggle between the oppressor and the oppressed. He called himself as people’s saviour (Saviour of Kashmiri people). The thing which made him popular among the people was, he began to oppose the then Maharaja’s regime and their allies. He started opposing practises of Maharaja which includes discrimination on religious grounds, tax system, brutality, taxation, corruption and exploitation of people. He challenged the then Maharaja for his brutal rule. With the bold part and vanity of Abdullah, people gave him a name “Lion of Kashmir” and he led the foundation of “All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference” in October 1932, in order to safeguard the interests of Muslim people living in Jammu and Kashmir. It was the formation of “Glancy commission” to investigate the major cause of uprising, the Maharaja allowed the formation of the 1st political party in Jammu and Kashmir. Abdullah, a Muslim never liked the Maharaja’s absolutism and he always used to agitate against Maharaja’s rule. Even the United States in Lahore agreed on the fact that the Maharaja had never showed sympathy on people of Kashmir.
For sheikh both Jinnah and the Muslim league were unappealing. The influential Kashmiri leader considered that the Pakistan was the result of an emotional Muslim reaction to Hindu communalism. He took the concept of Pakistan negatively, as he had strong aversion to autocracy. Many of the supporters of Sheikh, who were Muslims, perceived that Pakistan would be dominated by feudal elements, as well as being a society in which Kashmiris would have little power. The ideas and views of sheikh were ambivalent. Actually the views of Indian national congress coincided sheikh and his party, he considered India would be different and it would have different people, different Parties and the major thing was it would have India’s famous party; Indian national Congress. He was aware of the fact that India would accept the ideas and views of his party. Abdullah was not ambivalent about Pakistan, for him it was totally un-appealing.
Abdullah had been influenced by a burgeoning friendship with the strongly secular leader of India; Jawaharlal Nehru, whom he 1st met in 1938 and who thereafter played an important and partisan role in J&K. Abdullah believed if Kashmiri leaders wanted the support of Indian national congress in their anti-maharaja struggle the party has to change its name and constitution. In 1939, the famous party of Jammu and Kashmir was renamed “All J&K Muslim conference was renamed to All J&K national conference” it was after the seven years when the party was formed(1932). Sheikh considered renaming of party, in order to encourage non-Muslims to join the party. He also believed Maharaja was oppressing people of all religions, not just Muslims. Abdullah was able to convince his supporters and colleagues to secularise the party, in order to represent all the religions present in Jammu and Kashmir, hence the name change. With the name change of party it increased strong links between Nehru and sheikh or we can say the new name change party created a strong connection between All Jammu and Kashmir National conference and Indian National congress. With the change of party name several supporters of sheikh were distressed when they heard the new name of party. The Muslims of Kashmir believed if people from other religions joined the party they can betray any time, as they believed the Maharaja has affection towards them. They also believed many non-Muslims will favour joining India. That was the main reason, which disappointed the supporters of sheikh. After this internally J&K got divided into two divisions; the people who were supporting joining Pakistan were called Pro-Pakistani supporters and those few who left were supporting joining India, were called Pro-Indian.
The few disgruntled Muslims who were against joining India revived Muslim conference once again in 1941, as a political vehicle to secure interests of Muslim people. Hence by 1941, there were two political parties or two conferences in Jammu and Kashmir, one was “All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference” and another which was revived was known as “All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference” (the old Muslim conference was revived by some members of National conference who were deceived with the party’s secularism). They never liked Sheikh’s close friendship with the leader of Indian National congress Jawaharlal Nehru. They were against National Conference’s support for Indian National Congress and its ideals.
The persons who were behind the revival were “Chaudary Ghulam Abbas” who became president of Muslim conference and “Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah” (both of these leader became popular leaders of Azad Kashmir later).The supporters of Muslim conference considered Hindus were not liberal to see the liquidation of the autocratic rule of Maharaja. They believed self-interested Hindu clients of maharaja wanted the regime of their co-religionist Maharaja to continue, as he would look after their interests better than Non Hindu politicians. It was the main reason behind the revival of Muslim conference in order to safe guard Muslim interests in Jammu and Kashmir. Another reason behind the revival was that majority of Muslims were ready to join Pakistan, that is why many people use to call the party as pro-Pakistani party.
In Jammu and Kashmir both the conference’s had different aspiration for J&K’S status. The Muslim conference was favouring joining Pakistan while national conference was opposing it. There were several Pandits in Kashmir valley who were supporting joining Pakistan as they considered J&K has majority of Muslim's (as mentioned in census of India 1941Vol XXII).One among the Pandits who support joining Pakistan was Prem Nath Bazaz who was leader of Kashmir Kisan Mazdoor Conference and the another pro-Pakistani Pandit was Ramchandra-KAK. The National Conference was strongest in Kashmir valley, where 50% of Muslims and many Hindus supported this party. Outside Kashmir valley its support was too less (perhaps 15% Muslims supported it). The rival of national conference i.e. Muslim conference was popular in Jammu region and less in Kashmir valley. The two parties played important role in the history of Jammu and Kashmir.
Yasir Altaf Zargar is a writer and Security Analyst from Srinagar and the first Kashmiri to be acknowledged by Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Oracle, Microsoft, Nokia, Adobe and Apple. He Tweets as @zargaryasir
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