Shah - Loot of February
Abdullah lost his power when his brother-in-law, Ghulam MohammadShah,
established his credentials of enjoying majority support in the Legislature.l
He was an inefficient Chief Minister, who only took Kashmir to the brink
of disaster by fuelling secessionist and divisive fires, polarising the
entire polity on communal lines and harassing the minorities. Ghulam Mohammad
Shah given to temper tantrums was not well received by the Islamised bureaucracy,
which was well entrenched with deeper commitments. Shah spent most of his
time in coercing the Muslim bureaucracy into subjugation only to establish
his full sweep over it. His desperate attempts to make the bureaucracy
accountable proved disastrous for him resulting in his absolute unpopularity
with the Muslims manning the governmental machine.
Shah in the same line of the Muslim leaders ultimately stuck to an Islamic
agenda of constructing a mosque within the premises of Jammu secretariat.
The opinion leaders in Jammu did not savour it well and felt hurt and inflammed.
A Hindu organisation sponsored an agitational programme against the Chief
Minister's sinister move. There were protests and hartals. Effigies of
the Chief Minister were hatefully burnt thereby ventilating their deep-set
anger against him for his blatant communalism. Ghulam Mohammad Shah got
unnerved in face of the massive protests from all sections of people in
Jammu. The move initiated by him was only to gain popularity with the Muslims
of all hues and thus emerging as their saviour.
his behaviour and invested with rough edges, Shah talked patent communalism
to a delegation of the Hindus resenting the construction of a mosque inside
the government secretariat. Without mincing words, he said, "I am a fanatic
Muslim. I say prayers five times a day. It is the right of every Muslim
that he be allowed to pray five times a day. Hence it is necessary that
there should be a mosque within the government office."3
attitude of the Chief Minister was sufficient to generate massive protests
against him. In his capacity as the helmsman of the state, he was expected
to maintain communal peace and amity and that formed his constitutional
obligation and responsibility. Instead throwing all secular and just norms
to winds, he resorted to the religious agenda only to gain the sympathies
of the Muslims, who hated him the most.
Shah and more than most the Islamised bureaucracy was that the Hindus of
Jammu removed the mosque. And that prepared the ground for loot and plunder
of the Kashmirian Hindus.
It was on 20th
February, 1986 that Ghulam Moharnmad Shah reached Srinagar, which was rocked
by massive demonstrations against the unlocking of the Ram Janambhoomi
Temple throwing it open to the Hindus for worship. It had touched their
raw nerve. They yelled that Islam was in danger. The Kashmirian Hindus
had to face the worst ever harassment and intimidation. As if it were not
enough, a new conspiracy was hatched against them by floating a rumour
that all mosques in Jammu had been destroyed and not fewer than two hundred
Muslims had been massacred and bus-loads of dead bodies were on way to Srinagar.
The worst role
for the dissemination of unfounded rumours was played by the Islamised
bureaucracy with police personnel manning the whole campaign. The rumours
were carried into the remotest of the villages and hamlets designed to
the extermination of the Hindus. Shah as the helmsman of the state taking
shelter under the protective wings of the Islamised bureaucracy well fathomed
the strength of it. The upsurge that was deliberately generated by the
state power was used as a rehearsal for the communal holocaust and carnage
that were already on cards.
product of the rumours was the instantaneous mobilisation of the Muslims
of all hues against the Kashmirian Hindus. Anti-national elements and secessionists
were the first to get mobilised raising the usual bogey of 'Islam in danger.'
'Pakistan Zindabad' rent the skies. Every Muslim was gearing up for waging
a war on a fragile minority.
As the situation
was developing, Mufti Mohammad Sayyid 4 as the provincial Congress chief
felt lured to fish in troubled waters. He perceived it as a god-send opportunity
to fuel the communal fires leading to the dismissal of the Shah Ministry
and thus brightening up the chances for his taking over as the Chief Minister
of the state. Qazi Nissar, a protege of Mufti Mohammad Sayyid, played a
frontal role in the Muslim mobilisation against the Hindus. The Congressites
in the entire district of Anantnag were equally cruel to the Hindus in
matters of looting, plundering and burning their material properties and
religious places of worship. The formidable Muslim combine forgetting their
political persuasions and sinking their differences started on a looting
and burning spree, ravaging village after village. The looters were led
by leaders of all complexions. Political affiliations did not divide their
ranks and what held them together as a solid mass for a unified action
was the faith of Islam sanctioning their war on infidels (kafirs). The
Kashmirian Hindus as hapless and terrorised victims to loot, plunder and
arson rang up the police stations for assistance and protection but there
was no response. The entire drama of destruction and loot was stage-managed
by the Islamised bureaucracy with police as its vital cog. As a matter
of design, the state authority disappeared from the scene in a jiffy and
law-enforcing agencies proved a party to the loot and plunder of the Hindus.
It was a rehearsal of one act of the drama of death and destruction conceived
and scripted by the demon of Muslim bigotry presiding over the Muslim psyche.
only as an eye-wash imposed curfew in some areas. It was only to deter
the Muslim looters from looting, destroying and plundering the material
properties of the Hindus and burning their temples. But what was stunning
that the police never enforced curfew restrictions and maximum damage was
inflicted on the victims during curfew hours. The looters moving in wave
after wave faced no resistance from the law-enforcing authorities. The
Kashmirian Hindus suffering the worst-ever atrocities fled their homes
only to take shelter in open fields leaving their properties to the Muslim
hordes for loot, plunder and arson.
were fully equipped. They carried lethal arms only to kill the Hindus had
they dared offer resistance. They carried inflammable materials like petrol
and kerosene for burning of Hindu houses and Hindu temples. It was an open
loot and arson committed on the Hindus. Could it be called a riot as the
Hindus were not in the picture at all ? They fled their homes leaving for
the looters to loot and plunder them. The religious frenzy generated by
false rumours led to the subjection of the Hindus to atrocities only heard
of in tribal societies. No Hindu was killed for the tact that he offered
no resistance to the brutal Muslim aggression. It was not out of tolerance
and compassion that the Muslims did not resort to the ruthless killing
of Hindus. They as a brutalised lot indulged in loot, destruction, arson
and molestation and to all intents and purposes were one inch away from
the genocide of the Hindus.
hundred houses were looted and plundered and denuded of all houses-hold
articles which in tribal fashion were put to sale in the open market. Fifty
houses were completely gutted leaving three hundred families shelterless
and completely battered. Hundreds of Hindu shops were looted. More than
sixty temples were desecrated and forty were set ablaze. All hotels and
business enterprises belonging to the Hindus and even their fields with
standing crops were destroyed and pillaged. Hindu women-folk were insulted,
humiliated and molested.5 Wanpoh, Lukbhavan, Fatepur, Gautam Nag, Salar,
Akoora and Sopore were worst hit 6 and the Muslim hordes operating under
religious frenzy indulged in loot and destruction to their heart's fill
sending a chill down the spine of the victimised and hapless Hindus.
The loot, destruction
and mayhem were organised by the state machine involving the Muslims hordes
harbouring hatred and antipathy towards the Hindus. Nothing had happened
in Jammu and dance of destruction was stage-managed by the dissemination
of apochryphal rumours. Had the Muslims been actually killed in Jammu,
there would have been a genocide of the Hindus in Kashmir.
Shah proved the worst ever enemy of the Kashmirian Hindus, who at his behest
were looted, ravaged and put to arson and mayhem. He was no secularist
and behaved essentially as a bigoted Muslim. The state machine had already
slipped into the lap of bigoted and mayopic Muslim bureaucracy. Upholding
the Muslim agenda as usual, he endeavoured to prove a defender of the Islamic
faith and more than most a saviour of Muslims. He equally facilitated the
induction of the notorious pro-Pak elements into the police force. He was
reported to have raised two battalions in Kashmir police force comprising
mostly the Jammat-i-lslami followers. His regime was completely identified
with communalism and sectarianism. The communal forces rehearsing the drama
of death and destruction felt absolutely sanguine that time for final battle
of death and dcstruetion pursued against the Kashmirian Hindus was not
well heeded by the powers at the Central Capital. Arun Nehru in his capacity
as the Minister for Internal Security failed to take note of the grave
signals thrown up by the communalists masquerading as nationalists and
did not deem it fit to devise the remedial measures for saving Kashmir
teetering on virtual political chaos. Stage for secession and separatism
was already set. The atrocities inflicted on the Hindus were a device to
measure the response from the Indian State and the people of India. Measuring
the full-scale developments as per their parameters, the secessionists
and separatists in full preparation embarked upon the war path only to
challenge lndian presence in Kashmir.
without letup went on desecrating and plundering the Hindu places of worship.
Bombs and grenades were hurled on temples and shrines in Srinagar and Ganderbal.
The express objective was to scare away Hindus, who, despite all forms
af intimidation, clung to their home-land. The Sayyid formulations of transforming
Kashmir into an Islamic state continued to provide guidelines and impetus
to the Muslim fanatics in matters of liquidating all traces af Hindu culture
on the soil of Kashmir.
The loot and
plunder of temples and shrines was not the handiwork of thieves and burglars.
But politicians of all hues working out pak designs were behind such outraoeous
acts. Sivalinga of Dewan Temple, Goddess Kali of Anantnag and fossil images
and memorial stones dating back to the hoary past of Kashmir were either
burgled or broken.8 The policemen guarding the Mahakali idol at Hariparbat
did not report the incident of theft attempted by vandals thereby establishing
their complicity and connivance. However, some arrests were made and a
pistol of Pakistani make and a revolver were seized from their possession
and the persons involved were charged with theft, burglary and violation
of Arms Act. But what was amazing that politicians intervened only to secure
their release.9 The vandals were highly motivated Muslim youth operating
under political patronage out to undermine any semblance of communal peace
and amity. A close nexus between politicians and thieves and burglars with
political persuasions was perceptible designed to liquidate the Kashmirian
Hindus along with their culture and history.
There was no
stop to the loot, plunder and murder of the Kashmirian Hindus, who never
demanded any special privileges except their right to live as respectable
citizens of a democratic country, but the Muslim bigots basking in the
sun of political patronage never allowed them peace and respite. Trouble
was created round their shrines. False and illegal claims were put forth
over their places of worship. Terror was created to scare them away only
to establish an illusory Islamic state based on religious myopia and sheer
bigotry. Killings were planned only to fructify their political motivations.
The unbroken chain of events from the village of Batsargam to Siligam to
Vitasta-Verinag to Lok Bhawan to Tral 10 pointered to one design of launching
upon an onslaught on the Hindus and their places of worship. Boycott of
the Kashmirian Hindus of Lok Bhawan led by the rabid communal elements
as an ominous development was a pointer to the elimination of the Kasnmirian
Hindus, who were projected as the enemies of Islam. No rational Muslim
appeared on the scene to oppose the social boycott of the Hindus, instilling
confidence in them and dispelling the thick pall of fear and gloom.
agencies funding, planning and executing the murders of the Kashmirian
Hindus. A Hindu youth in his thirties was killed by a mercenary, who, when
interrogated, confessed that he was paid money to kill any Hindu coming
his way. Who planned the murders ? Who paid money for such outrageous acts
? Did the rulers take a serious view of it ? Was the entire gang busted
? What the police did was only to hush up the whole case by posing the
murderer as an insane. The reality of the matter was that the regimented
and chauvinistic elements in the state police were in league with criminals
planning and executing the murders of the Kashmirian Hindus. The man at
the helm was himself a religious bigot, obsessed with the construction
of a mosque, lacking in other empathies. It was no longer his concern to
provide safety to the miniscule minority of the Hindus against such onslaught
on their basic right to live and live with safety.
It was under
the very nose of Ghulam Mohammed Shah that the Kashmirian Hindus were looted
and plundered on 15th August, 1984. The anti-nationals observed the Independence
Day as a black day. They moved about the streets of Srinagar in huge processions
waving Pakistani flags and chanting anti-India slogans. Their main objective
was to storm the sports stadium where the ceremonial parade was being held.
In face of police resistance, they had to beat a retreat. While retreating,
they let loose a reign of terror over the Hindu localities in Ganpatyar
and Habakadal in Srinagar. Hindu shops were first looted and then burnt.
The Muslim hordes looted and ravaged the Hindu houses with vengefulness.
A scooter looted from a Hindu house was set ablaze. Nearly a dozen bicycles
looted from the Hindu houses were sadistically thrown into the Jhelum.
Most of the temples in the areas were heavily pelted and scores of Hindu
girls were insulted and molested. l l
Under the political
hegemeny of Ghulam Mohammad Shah, the Hindus of Kashmir were openly looted
and plundered. Their religious p]aces were desecrated, ravaged and burnt.
He weeded out all the remaining traces of secularism in Kashmir. He had
nursed a life- ambition of constructing a mosque even in Rashtrapati Bhawan.12
He did not have a quirk of conscience when he connived at the grabbing
of a huge piece of land belonging to the Hindu Trust of Dharmarth by Molvi
Iftikar Hussain Ansari, a Congress legislator for his business venture,
Ansari Motors, Srinagar.
Frozen Turbulence. 2. Refer
to Mrs. Gandhis comment, Aina Haqiqat, issued by J & K National Conference
(K). 3. Narendra Sahgal, Dharmantarit Kashmir (Hindi). 4 Mufti
Mohammad Sayyid was openly accused of fomenting communal strife in Kashmir
by K.N. Singh, the then Congress I, general secretary. 5. Narendra Sahgal, Dharmantrit Kashmir.
Chavan's report submitted to the Prime Minister of India. 7. Kashmir
Ki Vedana (Hindi); Genocide of Hindus in Kashmir. 8. Indian
Express, 26th April, 1985. 9. Kashnlir
Times, 20th April, 1985 10. Martand,
15th August, 1985 11. Times
of India, August 16, 1984 12. Speech
by G.M. Shah, published by N.C. (K), Srinagar.