Qadian always yearned for Kashmir. Mirza Mahmud discloses that his grandfather, Mirza Ghulam Murtaza, was a great friend of Shiekh Imamuddin, the last Governor of Kashmir, appointed by Sikh darbar. When he was ordered by the Sikh darbar to take charge in Kashmir, he insisted to take Mirza Ghulam Murtaza with him. Mirza Ghulam Murtaza was in Kashmir with Imamuddin at the time of Anglo-Sikh war (1846). The British crushed the Sikh power in the Punjab and Kashmir was sold out to Gulab Singh in March 1846 for Rs. 75 lacs, in accordance with the Treaty of Amritsar. Gulab Singh had some difficulty in obtaining actual possession of Kashmir. Imamuddin made, for a time, successful resistance and it was not till the end of 1846 that Gulab Singh was established in Kashmir with the aid of the British troops and those of Lahore darbar. Mirza Mahmud further says that Imamuddin wanted to form a confederacy of states surrounding Kashmir. He, however, could not carry out his plan for the fear that Nawabs of hilly states might not be in a position to fight against the British. Further, it was not considered advisable to have direct confrontation with the British. This was said to be the first reason which led Mirza Mahmud Ahmad to dabble in Kashmir affairs.1
The second reason given by him is that Hakim Nuruddin, the teacher, father-in-law and the first Khalifa of Ahmadya Community was the court physician in Kashmir darbar. Amar Singh, the father of Hari Singh, (the last Maharaja of Kashmir) and his brother Ram Singh, were said to have studied the Holy Quran from the Hakim. Pratab Singh, the elder brother of Amar Singh, came to know of it. He ordered Hakim’s immediate expulsion from the State2. This is not the correct reason given for his expulsion.
The actual story is that after the death of Ranbir Singh in 1885, he was succeeded by his eldest son Partab Singh. In 1889 Partap Singh was condemned by the British for his pro-Russian policy. On that pretext, the British made a plan to annex Kashmir and some parts of Gilgit.3 This plan was foiled by an Indian nationalist Sufi Amba Parshad, who by posing himself deaf and dumb, got himself employed with the British representative, stole the secret documents, and got them published in the Amrit Bazar Patrika, Calcutta. It created a lot of stir in the British Parliament and the Calcutta Administration. The British, however, snubbed the Maharaja and a Council was organized to carry out administration of the State. It comprised Maharaja’s two brothers: Ram Singh and Amar Singh and certain selected officials from British service. They were to take no important step without consulting the Resident. In November 1891, the Maharaja was restored to a portion of his power. After assumption of power he ordered immediate expulsion of the of the Hakim from the State. Hakim was an agent of the British Intelligence and was responsible to keep a watch on Partab Singh’s political activities. He kept the British Resident informed of all the Court intrigues.4 On the directives of his Imperialist masters, he and Muharram Ali Chishti, plotted to establish a vassal state on the borders of Kashmir (in Kishtwar)5, to render it as a buffer zone to check Russian incursions. The plot could not be materialized due to some political reasons. Amar Singh played in the Hakim’s hands and aspired for power.
The third reason given by Mirza Mahmud for taking interest in Kashmir affairs, was the plight of Kashmir Muslims, which he had seen during his three visits to Kashmir. He first visited Kashmir in July 1909 to see "Jesus’ tomb" in Khanyar street, Srinagar. In June 1921 he paid second visit, a political one, to explore the possibility of sending his agents in Central Asia by making Kashmir a launching pad. The British policy in those days was directed towards Communist Russia.6 Molvi Muhammad Amin and Molvi Zahoor Hussain undertook the espionage missions and were arrested by the Russian police several times. Mirza Mahmud hinted at the possibility of setting up of an Ahmadya state in the hey days of Qadiani infiltration in Central Asia.7
Mirza Mahmud paid the third visit to Kashmir in June 1929. By 1929, the Russian Revolution (1917) had made a considerable headway. It posed a great threat to British Imperialism in India. Communist Russia continued to make appeals to Muslims of the East to throw off the yoke of Imperialism and help the Russian Revolution. These slogans caused great embarrassment to the to the British. However Russia’s need for imports and credits from the West and its signing of a commercial treaty with Briton in March 1921, forced her to abstain from any attempt militarily or diplomatic, to encourage peoples of Asia in any form of hostile action against the British interests or Empire, especially in India and in the independent state of Afghanistan. Despite that Russia continued to help Indian Revolutionaries in one way or other. Tashkent was the main training center for the Indian revolutionaries. A school was also founded at Samarkand in 1920, which was attended by 3500 experts who were sent to India, well provided with money, to undertake revolutionary activities. The Soviet Minister at Kabul, Raskolnikov gave special attention to the tribesman in Wazirastan. 8
Even after the Russia assurances of not interfering in the internal affairs of India, the Colonial Department of the Communist Party of Briton continued to direct the activities of Indian Communists.9 After the Sixth Congress of the Third International in 1928, Communists intensified their activities in India. They earlier led workers into a strike like that of Bombay, Bengal and the UP (the Cawnpore Conspiracy Case, 1924) and its leaders were sent behind the bars (The Meerut Conspiracy case). In 1930, a Draft Program of Action asked for a violent overthrow of the Indian Government and the establishment of a Soviet Government.10 Alarmed by these announcements, the British took great interest in emerging political developments in strategic areas of Kashmir. They wanted to plant their loyal agents in those areas where Russian infiltration could be possible.
The most dependable agents of Imperialism could be none except Qadianis. They had a ‘brilliant’ record of spying, sabotage and pro-British activities. Any movement launched through them could be properly checked and maintained. They could also be relied upon in all matters. In India they had already proved their worth by launching counter-offensives against the national independence movements. During the days of Cawnpore Mosque agitation, Jalianwallah Bagh Tragedy, Khilafat and Civil Disobedience Movements, they collaborated with the British to undermine the efforts of the freedom fighters. They were especially active against Communists and so-called Bengali terrorists. Their existence on Kashmir borders could serve to meet the Communist incursions and check the flow of revolutionaries from Sinkiang into Kashmir.
Stir in Kashmir
In the last year of 20s, the political situation in Kashmir became explosive and volatile. In March 1929, Sir Albion Bannerji, the Political Affairs Minister resigned in protest against the bad state of affairs in Kashmir and made startling observations on the plight of Kashmir Muslims, which caused a stir in the State. Soon after that Mirza Mahmud paid his third political visit to Kashmir (June 1929) to give a final shape to his pre-conceived subversive plan. He directed Qadiani workers to infiltrate into rank and file of all those parties likely to form the nucleus for further political leadership. There were scores of Qadianis in Kashmir. As many as 85 Qadiani centres11, manned by clever missionaries, worked enthusiastically to exploit the political situation prevailing in Kashmir for their nefarious ends. Mirza Mahmud, sanguine of these developments, raised the slogan of an Ahmadya state and aspired to establish it anywhere in India as a future base.12 He was obviously making reference to Kashmir.
The year 1930 witnessed a great political upsurge in Kashmir. The incident of sacrilege of the Holy Quran and interruption of the Eid Khutba at congregational prayers in Jammu infuriated the Muslims. They assembled at Jamia Mosque in Srinagar to protest against the high-handedness of the Dogra rulers. On 21st June, a protest meeting was held at Khanqah-e-Moallah Mosque at Srinagar. At the end of the meeting, Abdul Qadeer, a young pathan from the UP and a guide by profession delivered a fiery speech against the Dorga ruler and was arrested and tried for sedition.13
On 13 July 1931 thousands of people assembled outside Srinagar jail, where the trial was being held. They were interested in the fate of Abdul Qadeer. The police opened fire on the peaceful demonstrators killing twenty-three men and wounding forty. A wave of indignation swept the whole of India. The Muslims of India protested against the Dogra atrocities and sympathized with the Kashmir Muslims.
Contemporary observers were divided about the causes of the Kashmir outbreak. Spokesmen for the Darbar and some British politicians thought that it was the work of outside agitators, Bolshevist agents, as one British MP Lt. Col. Sir Smiles, put it in the House of Commons,14 but the majority of Simla’s men on the spot preferred to emphasize internal factors. According to E.M.Jenkins, the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar, ‘the root of the trouble is in the State and not in the Punjab; to hold otherwise is to live in fool’s paradise.’ 15 By the root of the trouble, he meant the invidious position of Muslims in Kashmir Society.
On 25 July 1931 Mirza Mahmud invited leading Muslims of India for consultation on Kashmir affairs at the residence of Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Khan at Simla. The participants included Sir Fazale Hussain, Kh.Hasan Nizami, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, Sir Zulfiqar Ali, Nawab Kanjpura, Sheikh Rahim Bux (retired session Judge), Syed Mohsin Shah (advocate), Molvi Ismail Ghaznavi, Molvi Noorul Haq (Editor, Muslim OutLook, Lahore), Syed Habib (Editor, Siyasat, Lahore), Meerak Shah, A.R. Saghir and Abdul Latif (brother of Sir Abdul Qayyum of NWFP). Ch. Zahoor Ahmad (Qadiani) attended as the Press Secretary.16
An All India Kashmir Committee (AIKC) was formed with Mirza Mahmud as its president. He declined to be the dictator of the Committee.17 A.R.Dard became its Secretary. It aimed to wage a constitutional struggle for the restoration of the rights of Kashmir Muslims.18
Ian Copland explains the Qadiani motive in taking interest in Kashmir affairs by formation of an AKIC:
‘To this missionary-oriented sect (Qadian), Kashmir represented a natural field for expansion. Qadian, the Ahmadya headquarter, was situated at Gurdaspur district which abutted the Jammu frontier and the Ahmadya creed embraced the belief that Srinagar was the last resting place of Jesus Christ revered by all Muslims as prophet. However, it was the July agitation which suggested to the Ahmadya Khalifa, Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, that the time was ripe for a concerted missionary push, championed the civil rights cause would establish a firm foothold in the hearts and minds of the Kashmiri people, and he hoped to put this goodwill to work in his campaign for converts. Nevertheless it is doubtful whether he would have chanced his arm on such a risky venture had the sect not possessed some important local contacts in Srinagar notably Jamaluddin (the brother of Khawaja Kamaluddin) and the Darbar’s Director of Public Instruction, and the ubiquitous (Sheikh) Abdullah.’19
The main office of AIKC was setup in Qadian. Mirza Mahmud formed a Publicity Committee at Qadian and all the Qadiani papers got engaged in projecting the image of Mirza Mahumd as a political sage, a well-wisher of Muslims, and protagonist of Kashmir Muslim cause. A section of the Muslim press in India also created a pastiche and adorned their pages with laudatory remarks about Kashmir Committee. AlFazl Qadian which specialized in the art of fawning, introduced certain Qadianis or pro-Qadiani elements of Kashmir, as the outspoken leaders of oppressed people of Kashmir. It was a carefully contrived charade by the mercenaries of Qadian and group of feudal aristocracy under Sir Fazle Husain to fabricate their popularity in India. In the Valley of Kashmir cheer boys of Mirza Mahmud took pains to mollify critics to manipulate support.
Qadiani manoeuvres in Kashmir were challenged by newly formed political body of Punjab Muslims, Majlis-i-Ahrar-i-Islam. They were former Khalifites, differed with the Congress over certain issues and afterwards announced the formation of their party in a meeting at Habibia Hall, Lahore on 11 July 1931. They were also opposed to the policies of Muslims League. The declared objectives of the party were to secure independence for the country, promote better relations with other communities and establish an Islamic system in the country. They were ant-Imperialist and progressive in outlook. Chaudhry Afzal Haq was the moving force behind the party. The other prominent Ahrar leaders were Syed Attaullah Shah Bokhari, Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar, Sheikh Hussamuddin, Master Tajuddin Ansari, and Syed Habibur Rehman Ludhianvi. It was a galaxy of spellbinders. They attacked Capitalism, challenged feudalism and spoke in the language of common man. They targeted Qadianyat, for it represented the high point of toadyism and servility. The involvement of Qadian in the politics of Kashmir was a source of concern to them. They firmly held that the AIKC was a tool of British Imperialism and Ahmadis, the most loyal of all sections of British India were playing their game.20
Ian Copland elaborates:
"The Ahmadyas adopted a two-pronged strategy with regard to Kashmir. The first, of which they made no secret, was to capture control of AIKC, a Lahore-based lobby group founded by Sir Fazal-i-Hussain (Italics added). How they managed this, given the hostility with which the Qadianis were regarded in orthodox circles, is a puzzle, but manage it they did.21 The second part of the strategy was to utilize the Committee’s prestige to put pressure on the Government of India.
Kaul as New Dewan
The establishment of the AIKC was coincided by the appointment of Hari Kishan Kaul as the Prime Minister of Kashmir. On 25 July, the Maharaja sacked Prime Minister Wakefield who was accused of encouraging agitation in Kashmir. Kaul adopted a repressive policy, detained many political workers and suspended some Muslim civil servants from their jobs. Kaul was afterwards joined by his brother Dya, a former Dewan of Patiala and a man known to the British as a notorious intriguer.22
Mirza Mahmud chalked out a program of action for the AIKC. Kashmir Day was celebrated on 14 August and A.R.Dard traveled to Simla to brief the Political Secretary, Sir Charles Watson.23 Mahmud Ahmad reasoned that the British would have to intervene sooner or later in order to placate their own Muslim subjects. His job was to see that the later made their voices heard.
Copland, discussing Qadiani strategy, further states:
"Of more immediate benefits, however, were the Ahmadya’s clandestine operations in Kashmir itself.24 Unbeknown to the rest of the AIKC, Mirza Mahmud Ahmad made contacts with Sh. Abdullah in Srinagar and arranged to support the Youngmen’s Association with propaganda and funds."25 Abdul Rahim Dard arranged a secret meeting between Sheikh Abdullah and Mirza Mahmud at Garhi Habibullah on Kashmir border. He persuaded him to raise a voice in support of All India Kashmir Committee to establish the British as an advocate of Kashmir Muslim cause.26
The Sheikh agreed and played in the hands of Qadiani elements. He also threw up his job with the Education Department and opened a small office in Srinagar, staffed by full time political workers.27 "Over the following weeks branches were established in Jammu and other provincial towns, and a flood of new members recruited. Many of the latter were young militants who itched for a chance to get even with the Darbar for its role in the July riots but Abdullah took Mahmud Ahmad’s advice and stayed his hand."28 In official history of Ahmadyat, photo copies of Sheikh Abdullah’s letters have been given in which he had asked for financial help, advice and support from Qadian.29
From AIKC Platform
Mirza Mahmud had a meeting, first with the Political Secretary of the Government of India incharge of the States and latter called on the Viceroy, Lord Willigdon on 1st August 1931 and stressed the desirability of British interference in the internal affairs of Kashmir. The Viceroy demanded time for taking any suitable action. However, he liked Mirza Mahmud’s proposal for sending delegation to Kashmir comprising Nawab Zulriqar Ali, Khan Bahadur Rahim Bux, Khawaja Hasan Nizami, Dard and Maulana Ismail Ghaznavi to look into the situation. Later the name of Dr. Iqbal was included into it. Dr. Iqbal strongly opposed this proposal as it was considered to be against the larger interest of Kashmir Muslims. He thought that it was premature at that stage and would only provide a tool to the Kashmir Government to exploit the affairs in Kashmir. He, instead, proposed to send a three men mission including Mirza Mahmud, to London to explain the problem to the British public and Parliament. He promised to criticize boldly Kashmir Administration in case he found some time during the RTC (Round Table Conference). Mirza Mahmud claims that he knew well the Maharaja would not agree to the proposal so he cared not consider Dr.Iqbal’s suggestion. He was on look to find an opportunity to persuade the Viceroy to interfere in the State affairs. The Maharaja rejected the delegation proposal as was anticipated. Mirza Mahmud claims that the Viceroy came to realize that the British Government had to interfere sooner or later in Kashmir affairs.30
Sir Agha Khan, Sir Shafi, Dr. Iqbal and Sir Zafarullah called on the Secretary of State for India, separately during the RTC London and discussed Kashmir issue with him. The Secretary of State for India later informed the President AIKC (Mirza Mahmud) that the correspondence had been started with the State on the issue.31
The AIKC held meeting in Sialkot on 12-13 September 1931. Another meeting was held at Lahore on 24 October 1931. The Committee arranged for the publication of Kashmir news in the British press. Certain sections of the British press supported the demand of Kashmir Muslims which included the expulsion of Kaul from the State and introduction of reforms. Farzad Ali of London ‘Mosque’ organized a campaign in London. The matter was raised several times in the British Parliament. 32 The British public opinion was not much in favour of the Maharaja. He had flamboyantly delivered pro-Congress speech at the RTC, enraging his Imperialist masters. Forgetting his position as vassal, he had also been rather haughty towards the British Resident ever since he ascended the throne.33
Pandit Kaul, in a bid to pacify the mass movement of Kashmir Muslims, utilized the services of his close friend Sir Mehr Shah of the Punjab, to arrange a meeting with some Muslim representatives. Both parties agreed that Muslims would call off agitation and Kaul would suspend emergency regulations and orders in force since two months. Muslim civil servants would be restored to their posts.34
In August, Government ordered the release of some Kashmir Leaders. They, however, impressed upon the Government that unless their demands were accepted, there was no sense in releasing them. The Government thereupon allowed them to present a memorandum of their grievances to the Maharaja. The initial draft was prepared by Ghulam Ahmad Ashai (Qadiani). It was carried to Lahore by A.R. Dard to be shown to the AIKC. It was still under scrutiny when Abdullah was arrested on 21 September. A public meeting was held in Srinagar and a ‘War Council’ was formed to carry out the agitation.
On the occasion of his 26th birthday on October 1931, the Maharaja in a darbar held in Srinagar, announced the release of all political prisoners and withdrawal of Notification No.19 L as well as other emergency laws. The Muslims were called upon to present their erstwhile memorandum of grievances on 16 October 1931. The memorandum drafted by AIKC was presented to the Maharaja by an eleven-member delegation which gave an outline of the constitutional reforms.
A Massive Movement
To be continued..................