1924: October: Muslim notables in Srinagar present memorandum to British Viceroy regarding Maharaja’s misrule and set forth popular demands. This is sequel to labour strike in state-run silk factory in which workers were charged by troops commanded by Hari Singh, then the heir apparent, and their leader tortured to death.
1925 March: Leader of the signatories, Saaduddin Shawl is deported from the state. April: First meeting of Kashmiri expatriates and other Muslim leaders in Lahore is held to muster support for liberation struggle in Kashmir.
1931 April: Police official stops the Khutba (sermon) at the congregational religious service of Muslims in Jammu on the grotesque pretext that it alludes to Quranic passages about Moses and Pharaoh and thus indirectly advocates sedition. Protest by worshippers in Jammu led by Ghulam Abbas is held to express vehement disapproval of police action in Srinagar and major towns. June: At a large public meeting in Srinagar, 11 representatives are chosen to spearhead liberation movement against Maharaja and his brutality. These include, Ghulam Abbas, Saaduddin Shawl, Mirwaiz Muhammad Yousuf Shah and Shaikh Abdullah. July Thousands of people gather at the Central Jail Srinagar to witness the in-camera trial of Abdul Qadeer, a youth accused of involvement in a case of agitation. The people demand an open trial of Abdul Qadeer. As the time for mandatory prayer approaches, a young man stands for Azan (call for the prayer). The Dogra police open fire on him, and he embraces martyrdom. Thereby, another death-defying youth takes the place of the martyred young man and starts Azan. He too, dies of gunshots. In this way 22 Kashmiris embrace martyrdom one by one in their effort to complete the Azan. This gory episode proves to be a milestone in the popular liberation struggle. The mass agitation begins, Ghulam Abbas and Shaikh Abdullah, along with three other leaders, are arrested. July-August:Maharaja’s government claims that popular liberation movement is instigated by “outside elements” and announces policy of not permitting speeches creating hatred against his regime. August: All-India Kashmir Committee is formed in Lahore to muster support for Kashmir freedom movement led by Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, renowned poet-philosopher. Meanwhile, All-India Muslim League adopts resolution commending the gallant struggle carried on both inside and outside Kashmir for Kashmiris’ right to liberation. September: Kashmiri leaders are rearrested. On September 24, a large number of young men demonstrate on Srinagar streets. They shout slogans, “we will fight the Maharaja’s soldiers”. Maharaja responds by display of military armour in the city the next day. Law is promulgated providing for flogging as punishment for political activity. Ordinary citizens are bludgeoned by troops if they fail to shout ‘Maharaja ki jai’ – victory to Maharaja. October: British Viceroy urges Maharaja to adopt conciliatory policy. Leaders are released and asked to present demands, which they do on October 19. Excerpts: “We demand same liberties as prevail in British India … equality of rights regardless of religion … better terms for labour … a representative form of government … the State cannot claim proprietary rights over land merely because Kashmir was purchased from the British.” November: November 1931-January 1932, No tax campaign is started in Mirpur. Armed encounters occur in Kotli between Maharaja’s soldiers and local guerillas. Maharaja’s administration in areas now in Azad Kashmir collapses. British Indian government intervenes, moves troops to Jammu and Mirpur. Muslim political party in Punjab – Jamaat-i-Ahrar – launches movement for unarmed “civil invasion” of State. Around 30,000 people are arrested to prevent them from crossing the border. Meanwhile, on Britain request, Reforms Commission is constituted, headed by British official Douglas Glancey and consisting of four public representatives. Two Muslims, including Ghulam Abbas, and two Hindus, including Prem Nath Bazaz as members, the Reforms Commission recommends limited reforms including establishment of legislative assembly. Kashmiri Pandits denounce their representative Prem Nath Bazaz for supporting reforms. Hindu newspapers in India condemn the movement in Kashmir as evidence of “dishonorable Muslim communalism”. Delegation of Hindu leaders in India meets Viceroy stressing strategic importance of Kashmir to India against so-called pan-Islamic wave.
1932 October: First mass organisation in the State – the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference is established. At its session in Srinagar, Shaikh Abdullah is elected President and Ghulam Abbas General Secretary.
1934 January: Mass protests are staged against limitation of franchise to three per cent of population for proposed legislative assembly and restrictions on assembly’s powers. At a meeting of Muslim Conference held in Sialkot, Ghulam Abbas is designated as leader of the campaign. Abdullah distances himself from campaign. Abbas is arrested. September: State legislative assembly is established by Maharaja. Muslims constituting 77 per cent of population are allotted 32 seats in a house of 75, out of which 21 are elected and 11 nominated by Maharaja. Muslim Conference captures 20 seats.
1935 October: Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas is elected President of Muslim Conference. With Hindu leaders attending as observers at annual convention, Abbas appeals to non-Muslims “to join the struggle for emancipation of our country”. Muslim Conference members of State Assembly (19 out of 21 elected members) resign in protest against Assembly’s restricted powers.
1936 May: Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah visits Srinagar. Though visit private, both factions of Muslim Conference (led respectively by Abdullah and Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah) invite him to address large public meetings organised in his honour. The Great Quaid counsels promoting harmony between Muslim majority and Hindu minority.
1937 September: Abdullah again elected President of Muslim Conference. Urges “common platform” of Muslims and non-Muslims and demands that State representatives to Indian federation be chosen by people and not nominated by Maharaja. (contemplated in Government of India Act-1935 before demand for establishment of separate federation of Muslim majority states – Pakistan – was formulated by Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah).
1938 June: Working Committee of Muslim Conference recommends change in name and constitution of party. Abbas opposes the move, which was deferred for one year.
1939 September : Maharaja’s Prime Minister, Gopalaswamy Ayyangar – a Hindu bureaucrat from Madras – promulgates constitution providing not only for Maharaja’s unrestricted veto over legislative assembly’s enactments but also for any enactment by Maharaja himself to be considered as if made by assembly. Abdullah establishes understanding with Ayyangar that, in return for refraining from any active campaign for responsible government, he will be supported in his fight against his political opponents – former leaders of Muslim Conference. On his advice, National Conference members abstain from vote on bill abolishing discrimination against Muslims in arms licences, Abdullah cultivates closer relations with Congress leaders, particularly Jawaharlal Nehru, criticises Muslim League but later disclaims remarks. October: Special session of Muslim Conference decides to convert party into National Conference. Abbas endorses move on conditions that, inter alia, (a) it will not mean affiliation with Indian National Congress against Muslim League; (b) non- Muslims will participate in campaign for representative government; and (c) Conference will continue to seek end of discrimination against Muslims. Some prominent Hindu leaders, including Prem Nath Bazaz, join National Conference but Hindu masses keep aloof.
1940 May: Jawaharlal Nehru visits Kashmir and appeals to Hindus to support National Conference and its struggle for responsible government. Enthusiastic welcome accorded to Nehru by Abdullah and his followers, is marred by hostile demonstrations by others. Handbill widely circulated by students asks ‘Where were you, Mr Nehru, in 1931? You claim to be a Kashmiri; how come you have been silent all through our continuing struggle?’
1943 April: Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, Prime Minister since 1937, quits. ‘Deliverance Day’ observed by dissident sections of National Conference. Bazaz, virtually co-founder with Abdullah, also resigns, expressing disillusionment. Abbas re-establishes Muslim Conference pleading as ground non- fulfilment of conditions set for conversion of party into National Conference. Protests against Ayyangar’s statement that Kashmir would be first to accede to Indian Union.
1944 National Conference issues radical manifesto called “new Kashmir” contemplating drastic social and economic measures. At the same time – as against Muslim Conference position of non-cooperation with Maharaja’s government, agrees to inclusion of one nominee of National Conference in Maharaja’s cabinet. Quaid-e-Azam visits Kashmir on joint invitation of Muslim Conference and National Conference. Attempts to bring about reconciliation. Advises maintaining single Muslim representative organisation which, on basis of full safeguards for rights of non-Muslim minorities, should arrive at honourable settlement with their representative organisations regarding campaign for responsible government. Abdullah rejects advice publicly and criticises Quaid-e-Azam. June 17: Quaid-e-Azam addresses largest ever public meeting in Srinagar at Muslim Conference convention. Maharaja declines to meet Quaid-e-Azam.
1945 : Jawaharlal Nehru accompanied by two Muslim leaders of Indian Congress, visits Kashmir. Faces hostile demonstrations when party taken out in boat procession up Jehlum river. Demonstrations larger and more vehement than on his earlier visit in 1940.
1946: National Conference makes declaration called ‘Quit Kashmir’ against Maharaja drawing attention of British government to Kashmir’s claim to freedom on withdrawal of British power. May: Abdullah arrested. Nehru comes to Kashmir as Abdullah’s defence counsel, is arrested and ordered to leave State. Hindu press, however, condemns ‘Quit Kashmir’ movement; Achhariya Kriplani, one of top Congress leaders, calls campaign “mischievous”. Abdullah, in his statement in court during trial, tones down ‘Quit Kashmir’ declaration. Agitation peters out. July: R.C. Kak, Maharaja’s Prime Minister, meets Congress leaders in India. Nehru permitted to revisit Srinagar, meets Abdullah in jail and confers with Maharaja’s Raj Guru, or head priest. July: Muslim Conference adopts Azad Kashmir resolution, calling for end of autocratic government and claims right of people to elect their own constituent assembly. October: Chaudry Ghulam Abbas arrested.Follow @kmsnewz