CHAPTER SIXTEEN

Ghulam Mohammad Shah

- Loot of February 1986

Farooq Abdullah lost his power when his brother-in-law, Ghulam Mohammad Shah, 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.

Ghulam Mohammad 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.

Uncouth in 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

The fanatic 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.

What shocked 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.

The cumulative 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.

The government 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.

The looters 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.

Nearly five 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.

Ghulam Mohammad 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 was ripe.

The policy 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.

The Muslims 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.

There were 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.

Notes and References

l. Jagmohan, 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.
 6. Y.B. 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.
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