Name of Book: History of Armed Struggles in Kashmir
Author: Rao Farman Ali
Publisher: JayKay Books, New Delhi
The book ‘History of Armed Struggles in Kashmir’ by Rao Farman Ali comes at a time when the indigenous armed struggle in Kashmir has been renewed with the number of local youth taking to arms increasing manifold in last three to four years.
The book clears many doubts and misinterpretations about the armed struggle in Kashmir. One of the misinterpretations is that the armed struggle in Kashmir started with the rigging of elections of 1987 and the subsequent surge in the insurgency activities.
The author gives a detailed account of political events from 1947 to 1953 and the parallel militant activities carried out by the Mujahid Home Front. The author writes that the first militant attack was carried out as early as 1951.
INDO-PAK WAR 1965
The book talks in detail about the Indo-Pak War of 1965 and how the defeat of Pakistan changed the perception of Kashmiri intelligentsia and they looked towards new methods of liberating themselves. The author terms the 1965 generation as the “Second Generation” after 1947 which adopted a new approach towards the Kashmir struggle.
Ali writes that 1965 acted as catalyst for the infuriated educated young men of Kashmir as large scale arrests erupted in the valley.
The “Second Generation” started formulating various resistance cells like Red Kashmir, Young Men’s League and others.
The book talks in detail about a meeting, soon after 1965 War, which was presided over by Mohammad Maqbool Bhat. The meeting mostly revolved around the failure of Pakistan to wrest Kashmir from India besides other issues pertaining Kashmir. The author writes this meeting was significant one as far as the armed struggle of Kashmir is concerned. In this meeting, it was also decided that an armed guerilla organization under the name of National Liberation Front will be launched with the sole aim to fight for the complete independence of Kashmir.
The book also talks in detail about the Kashmiris who went to Pakistan for arms training right from 1950s to 1990s. The book provides the minutest details about who went to Pakistan to receive arms training or to get explosive materials and who helped individuals or groups to cross the border and which route they went and came back. This amply shows the research the author has put in book.
A detailed commentary about the “Al Fatah” – the first indigenous armed group of Kashmir is provided in chapter III of the book. This group was launched by the end of 1968, which was totally indigenous in character under the commandership of Ghulam Rasool Zehgeer. The headquarters of this group was in Barsoo area of Awantipora. The author writes the aim of this group was to highlight Kashmir internationally without support of Pakistan. The group had its own guidelines, finances and most importantly political moves.
Rao Farman Ali has also dealt in detail with the preamble of the Al-Fatah. A complete guide is given about Al Fatah like how to go for warfare in four stages and the subsequent details how Al Fatah members were arrested from Srinagar and sent to jails in Jammu. The mal treatment meted to Al Fatah members and the court proceeding hiccups like not having a counsel to defend the members is also talked in detail.
The book is also a first of kind that touches the topic about the revolt against Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah (Sher-e-Kashmir). Author has given a vivid description about how for the first time a shutdown call was organised on 15th Feb in Sopore against the Sheikh Abdullah because of Beigh-Parthasarthi talks (Sheikh Abdullah and Indira Gandhi Accord 1975). How also for the first time huge anti-Sheikh rally was taken out in Sopore opposing the Accord led by Ghulam Muhammad Khan Sopori which led to his subsequent arrest and killing in police custody.
Similarly, the book provides an insight into the politics of 1975 in Kashmir. It talks about the shutdown call given by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on 28th February Friday as a part of solidarity with Kashmir to support the right to self determination. The author says that it was first of its kind when Kashmiris adhered to a strike call given by the Pakistan Prime Minister. Such was effect of the call that streets in the Valley wore deserted look. The author says the strike call was a grand success and the shutdown was also observed in Pakistan Administered Kashmir for the first and only time.
ROLE OF JKLF
The book “History of Armed Struggles in Kashmir” shed light on how Pakistan establishment change its strategy after 1975 and with the advent of 1980 launched “Operation Topac” with Rouf Kashmiri as the point man in helping and persuading Kashmiri youth to cross the border and go for arms training.
The author writes for the first on Indian independence on August 15, 1984 the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) planted a bomb inside the Bakshi Stadium, which went off without injuring anyone.
The role of Ghulam Nabi Bhat brother of Mohammad Maqbool Bhat who played a pivotal role for the first batch to cross LoC for arms training in early 1987 via Kupwara is also given in detail. The author writes that the first batch of JKLF was given training in Pakistan Administered Kashmir in 1988 and by May 1988 three batches of JKLF had crossed the border to get arms training. The legendary Hizb-ul-Mujahiddin commander, Mohammad Ahsan Dar, was also one among them who received arms training from a JKLF camp.
Rao Farman Ali writes that it was in June 1988 when Mohammad Yasin Malik and Ashfaq Majeed went for arms training to Pakistan via Rasanpora sector of Kupwara. And by 13th July 1988, JKLF detonated the first bomb fitted with timer at Central Telegraph Office. The aim of the blast was to create a kind of sensation and show of presence. Earlier, from May 08 to May 13 in 1989, 14 bomb blasts took place in length and breadth of Kashmir. And from 1989 to 1992 almost 134 big or small armed groups were active in Kashmir.
The author also writes that Manzoor-ul-Islam Malik was the first person arrested by CIK in Srinagar in connection with the militancy related activities in Kashmir in late 1980s.
ROLE OF JEI AND EMERGENCE OF HIZ-UL-MUJAHHIDIN (HM)
The author while dissecting the ideology of militant groups says the JKLF ideology was a secular independent Kashmir which was not in sync with Pakistan establishment. They wanted an orginsation that was of pro-Pakistan leaning.
By late 1989, a pro-Pakistan group namely Tehreek-e-Jihad-i-Islami (TJI) was established with aim to assemble all the pro-Pakistan people in the fold of Tehreek-e-Jihad as a single platform to espouse the pro-Pakistan sentiments in Valley. The author writes that most of the members of this group were from Peoples League or Jamaat-e-Islami. TJI was prelude to Hizb-ul-Mujahiddin (HM) in Valley. The author writes that within short span of time HM became the main force to espouse the pro-Pakistan sentiments in Kashmir.
Providing the background of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), the author says that the JeI initially was reluctant to support the armed struggle in Kashmir. Even in 1983 the Emir (Chief) of JeI Molvi Sa’ad-ud-din Tarabali met the President of Pakistan Zia-ul-Haq and Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) Emir Mian Tufail Muhammad and diplomatically declined to start an armed revolt against India in Kashmir.
Rao Farman Ali says that it was Ahsan Dar who tactically dragged Jamaat into militancy and by 16 September 1989 HM was officially launched with Hilal Mir as its first Emir. HM was given formal shape by early 1990.
The author writes that a meeting of Jamaat was called in which Syed Ali Geelani, Syed Salahuddin (the present United Jihad Council (UJC) Chief) and Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai were present and it was decided that Ahsan Dar will be its operations chief.
Providing further details about HM, the author writes, the constitution of HM was drafted by none other than Geelani in November 1989 at his residence in Dooru, Sopore, however, the constitution was approved in June 1990 with two tier system. One was armed wing and the second were sympathizers, technically called as OGWs. So constitutionally HM was divided into administrative and military wing. The leader of the administrative wing was in hands of JeI while non-traditionalists from JeI had control over the commanders of the military wings.
There are also references about the militant groups like Operation Balacot (OBC) of Azam Inqilabi, Allah Tigers of Air Marshal Noor Khan, Al-Umar Mujahiddin (AUM) of Molvi Umar Farooq and the present cabinet minister Sajjad Gani Lones Peoples Conference formed its own guerrilla out fit in Kupwara namely Al-Barq in march 1990. In the meantime, in November 1990, United Jihad Council (UJC), an amalgam of several militant outfits was established with Azam Inqilabi as its first chairman.
The book also gives a detail about the infighting between HM and JKLF that saw assassination of many prominent citizenry of Kashmir including politicians, militant commanders, doctors, legal luminaries’ educationists and doctors. The book also describes to save the intellectual class of Kashmir Save Kashmir Movement was launched Azam Inquilabi purposely to have reconciliation among the armed groups having propensity towards different ideologies. Soon after its launch a significant ceasefire agreement was made between HM and JKLF.
The book also provides a graphical description about the renegade groups backed by the Indian state. The known renegade groups were Muslim Mujhaddin (MM) and Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon (IUM). The three known renegades were Kuka Parray, Usman Majid and Liyaqat Khan who were famous for their notoriety and murdering several innocent people with support open support of Indian state. The book also talks about detail about Papa Kishtwari. How was a simple constable in Central Reserve Forces (CRPF) and became dreaded renegade after killing civilians and all these people bought crores of property within not time. The book also talks about the seat arrangements these renegades chalked out during 1996 assembly elections with Dr Farooq Abdullah.
The author has also talked in detail about the negotiations between India and Hizb-ul-Mujahhidin (HM) in early 2000s. Rao Farman Ali writes that on August 3, 2000, talks between HM and the Indian state were for the first time. On August 4, Friday Rashtriya Rifles (RR) and a HM Team played a cricket game of cricket at Khipora, in frontier district of Kupwara. It was a 24-run victory for HM over Indian army. On August 6 Sunday, the HM said that Indian army has violated the ceasefire and the talks broke down. Subsequently, on August 8 Tuesday ceasefire was unilaterally withdrawn by Syed Salahuddin, the supreme commander of HM.
At last the author concludes that soon the UJC announced “Forgive and Forget Policy” that saw many of the renegades returning to their home peacefully and were not touched by any militants groups. Author also gives credit to the political parties in elevating the culture of revulsion and a big change was felt after 2005.
Author can be mailed at email@example.com