Jammu and Kashmir : Taming the Terror
The post-independent journey of Jammu and Kashmir is a story of consistent struggle of Nationalist forces against the separatists and terrorists. RSS has been a guiding force for nationalist voices in the state
August 15, 1947. Bharat was thrilled, and the people were celebrating independence across the country. The people of Jammu Kashmir too were relishing the newfound freedom from centuries of slavery. But, for a particular class steeped in communal mindset it was difficult to accept even this happy occasion. They had wanted Kashmir to be a part of Pakistan simply because it was a Muslim majority state. Inebriated in communal frenzy, they hoisted Pakistani flags on government buildings in Srinagar before sunrise.
The people reacted to this action in hushed tones the next morning, but who would come forward? RSS Swayamsewaks heard this talk as they came out for their shakhas at sunrise. At a meeting after the shakha, Swayamsewaks decided to give a befitting response. The Swayamsewaks came together near Amirakdal exactly at 10 a.m., joined by other patriotic people. Thousands walked the roads of Srinagar that day, chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. Within no time, the Pakistani flags were taken down from the government buildings.
The Kashmir valley had then and even now has Muslim majority. Like today, a gang of nuisance makers existed at that time too – they were few in number but had the capability to take the valley to the hostage. In spite of this, the courage shown by swayamsewaks and other citizens on August 15, 1947 had in its background a grand program of the RSS a few months earlier.
The program took place at DAV College Srinagar in which more than a thousand uniformed swayamsewaks participated. In his address, the then Sarsanghchalak Shri Guruji explained the need for Hindu unity and appealed to all citizens to foil the plans of anti-national elements by staying alert and united. This event filled the nationalist people with enthusiasm. That was the first time the people of Kashmir experienced the capability and the discipline of the RSS. The confidence that arose through it played an important role in countering Pakistan’s aggression in the coming days.
The Sindhu Darshan Festival is a celebration of river Sindhu, also known as the Indus. Troupes from states where the mighty rivers of India run, bring the water of all those rivers in earthen pots and immerse them in the river Indus.
Stormy days: Active RSS workers in Jammu Kashmir could sense the tough times ahead. Information coming from across the border was worrisome. Swayamsevaks had made up their mind to protect Jammu Kashmir state from Pakistan’s evil designs till their last breath.
When the planning for October 22, 1947 attack was taking place in Rawalpindi in the presence of Jinnah himself on October, 13 October 1947, a Swayamsewak was present there in disguise. He sent the information to RSS headquarters Srinagar by night and it was conveyed in time to Brigadier Rajendra Singh and Brigadier Fakir Singh.
On the path of duty: Maharaj Hari Singh himself asked for a support from Snagh and as a natural duty Swayamsevaks agreed to that. J&K Prime Minister Mehar Chand Mahajan asked senior RSS leader Sh. Balraj Madhok for “a team of youth who could go to Baramulla next morning itself and help the military in stopping the enemy from entering Kashmir valley. “How many Swayamsewaks do you want?” Sh. Madhok asked. “150, tomorrow 7 a.m.”
It was 12’O clock midnight then. The shakha organisers (mukhya shikshak) of Rainawadi, Parana city and Amirakdal were awakened from sleep and told to inform their swayamsewaks by 3 a.m. that they have to gather in the RSS office at 6 a.m. with the preparedness of going to the war zone. After an inspiring address by Sh. Madhok, followed by the Sangh prayer, the swayamsewaks left for the Badami Bagh cantonment.
Ready for the cause: The whole of Kashmir was expecting the Bharatiya Army to reach any moment. However, the airstrips were not wide enough for military planes to land. Swayamsewaks undertook this challenging task and completed the airstrips at three places – Srinagar, Jammu and Poonch – by working day and night.
On the path to sacrifice: The first airplane of the Indian Air Force landed in Srinagar on October 27. Within the next ten days, the Bharatiya Army captured the entire area up to Uri. When the Pakistanis had to retreat from Kashmir, they increased their pressure on Jammu. Both Bhimber and Mirpur had fallen into Pakistan’s hands. More than 50,000 citizens were killed mercilessly. Now Kotli was at risk. The possibility of getting military aid appeared dim. An IAF plane airdropped eight boxes of ammunition but these also fell in the territory controlled by enemy. It was not possible to either bring it back from enemy camp or fight without it. The RSS Swayamsewaks came forward to make the impossible possible.
Kotli’s Nagar Karyavah Chandra Prakash ji chose seven Swayamsewaks with him and crawled to where the boxes had fallen. They had to swim through a nallah (runnel) to take the boxes to its destination. The enemy got alerted to this activity and started raining bullets. The team of Swayamsevaks kept inching forward amidst the showering of bullets, pushing the boxes between them. The bullets hit Chandra Prakashji and Ved Prakashji, but the team had no time to look after them. The other Swayamsewaks carried their boxes too and went ahead. They returned after successfully handing over the ammunition to the soldiers. Both the swayamsewaks had passed away. They had to carry their dead bodies on their backs and crawl upwards on the hill. The firing from the other side was intensified. Two more Swayamsewaks were hit and the remaining two colleagues lifted them on their back.
All four Swayamsewaks were cremated on the same pyre on the outskirts of Kotli town. They had lived up to their vow. The soldiers now had enough ammunition to march ahead on the same road from where it was brought. The Pakistani guns were rendered silent by sunrise. The tricolour was flying high on the hill ahead.
Salute to the nation: Kotli was now in full control of the Bharatiya Army. Then came in a report that the aggressors had surrounded 1200 Hindus in Palandhari, which was 20 km away. Kotli could not be left unsecured, hence soldiers in large numbers could not be sent there. It was decided that 30 soldiers, 15 jawans of the Jammu Kashmir police and 100 Swayamsewaks would go to Palandhari for this mission. The enemy got information of this mission. The entire unit fought till their last breath; none of them returned alive.
Service Work: The second stage of the RSS’ work started after creating a successful history of sacrifices. After the ceasefire came into effect, the next challenge was to look after those who had come as migrants and displaced, losing their loved ones and everything else, in Jammu and its vicinity.
Sheikh Abdullah did not allow even the state’s own people (those who migrated from Pakistan occupied areas) to stay in Kashmir and pushed them towards Jammu. It is a travesty that Jammu has remained a land of these displaced people even today. RSS asked help from the society for the urgent necessities of these people and started working on priority issues like their food, shelter, security and medical help. The Swayamsewaks yoked themselves to the service of these migrants and displaced, without thinking about themselves, just as they stood firm like a wall before the enemy during Pakistan’s aggression.
Praja Parishad and its agitation: Disturbed by Pakistan’s atrocities on his subjects, Maharaja Hari Singh signed on the letter of accession, only after accepting the illogical demand of handing over power to Sheikh Abdullah and. The Praja Parishad was formed under the leadership of Sh. Premnath Dogra, a consensus figure who was once the Deputy Commissioner of Muzaffarabad.
The Praja Parishad spread its wing all over the state in no time. Sheikh expelled Sh. Madhok and his family from Jammu and put Pt. Premnath Dogra in jail. The opposition was growing, and so was Sheikh’s brutality. On his instance, the administration was inflicting endless atrocities on Praja Parishad’s workers and supporters. The atmosphere of uncertainty and distrust was growing in the state. The Praja Parishad was forced to move towards a decisive agitation.
Agitation reached Delhi: The agitation was at its peak in Jammu. Agitators were facing canes and bullets every day. Processions supporting the agitation started in Delhi too and a series of protests went on. The police brutally caned protestors at Hauz Qazi, injuring over 60. The Jan Sangh announced an eight-member fact-finding team to be sent to Jammu for which the permission was denied by the Centre.
Praja Parishad is credited with providing a platform for the people of Jammu Kashmir who wanted to associate their identity with Bharat, to unite. National leader and Jan Sangh president Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukerjee, who led the agitation died in suspicious circumstances just on the eve of June 23 in the jail. Dr. Mukerjee’s sacrifice bore fruit and the permit system was abolished. Many provisions of Constitution of Bharat were enforced in the state.
A Silent Penance: For the next three decades, the central government carried out political experiments in the state of Jammu Kashmir. Through these experiments, Congress maintained its place in the state’s politics by overlooking anti-national activities and sometimes even by protecting them. As Pakistan changed its strategy after the defeat in Bangladesh, so did the separatists. Sheikh Abdullah even started saying that Jammu Kashmir’s accession to Bharat was final. Impressed by this, Sheikh was again made the Chief Minister. For the RSS, this was a period of silent activity.
Against Terrorism: By 1989, the administration had become totally helpless before the terrorists. Announcements of Nizam-e-Mustafa were being made from mosques. Hindus were told to leave the Valley. Many prominent karyakartas of BJP and RSS like Tikalal Tapalu and Premnath Bhatt were brutally killed by terrorists.
In this background, all religious and social organisations in Jammu Kashmir were called together on the instance of RSS and Jammu Kashmir Sahayta Samiti was formed for registration and rehabilitation of the displaced. Swayamsewaks from all over the country went from home to home, collecting food, money, clothes and medicines on the appeal of the Samiti, and distributed them among the displaced.
Kashmir March: More than 11,000 students from across the country reached Jammu on the call of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad. The ABVP declared it would hoist the Tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. The state administration stopped these nationalist youngsters from marching ahead.
Jammu Kashmir Bachao Abhiyan: Women’s organisation Rashtra Sevika Samiti organised nationwide Jammu Kashmir Bachao Abhiyan from March 29-31, 1991. The aim was to generate awareness regarding the situation in Jammu Kashmir. The Samiti conducted a grand awareness yatra and a public rally in Jammu on March 31.
Ekta Yatra: The Bharatiya Janata Party announced the Ekta Yatra to take the J&K issue to every citizen. This rathyatra started from Kanyakumari on 11 December 1991 under the leadership of BJP’s then national president Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi. Resonating chants of Bharat Mata Ki Jai through villages and towns across Bharat, this yatra crossed all hurdles and reached Srinagar on January 26, 1992 where the Tricolour was hoisted as per announcement.
Jammu’s Rebuttal: There is a common perception that Kashmir valley is the only victim of terrorism. The reality is the poison of terrorism started from Kashmir soon spread over in many districts of Jammu. The only difference was while the sequence of incidents in the valley did not give time to respond. Hindus there suddenly had to vacate their houses and did not get time to react. On the other hand in Jammu, Hindus of Kishtwad, Doda, Ramban, Rajouri and Poonch faced atrocities of the terrorists still retained their hold in the region.
Ex-Serviceman’s Rally: Former armed forces personnel are there in large numbers in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. To raise the force of these ex-servicemen against terrorists, Poorv Sainik Sewa Parishad organised a massive rally in December 1992 at Char Chinar in Kishtwad. They demanded for getting their guns back, which was accepted by the administration. Ex-servicemen declared open war against terrorism.
Amarnath Andolan: The number of devotees was soaring day by day. The camp situated at Balatal was insufficient to accommodate them. The government decided to hand over a small forest land to Shree Amarnath Shrine Board. Separatists opposed this decision and government immediately reversed the decision. There was a strong rection in Jammu and whole nation supported it. All nationalist forces formed a ‘Sangharsh Samiti’ in Jammu. The unprecedented agitation continued for 61 days and nationalist forces got the decisive victory.
Sindhu Darshan: The glorious civilization of Bharat evolved on the banks of Sindhu River. Since 1997, Sindhu Darshan programme has been organised to underline the cultural connect of J & K and to establish communication of Ladakh with the rest of Bharat. On the Banks of Sindhu in Leh, at the place called Shey , this event is organised. Government of Bharat released a postal stamp on the same in 1999, and in the year 2000 the then Prime Minister Vajpayye gave it a grand stature.
Ekal Vidyalaya: The educational facilities are really bad in the interiors of J & K due to the difficult terrain. The government schools are not up to the mark. Many schools are burnt by the terrorists and teachers have stopped going to the schools. To bridge this gap, Sewa Bharati, Vidya Bharati and VHP created a structure of Ekal Vidyalayas. Behind n10-20 students in a village, a teacher is appointed not only to impart primary education but also the values of Bharatiyata. There are more than 3200 Ekal Schools in the state.
Besides this more than 50 Vidya Bharati run schools are there providing facilities for primary, secondary and higher secondary education. There is a residential school in a remote area like Leh which is the only hope for the students for bright future.
Flood Relief: J & K had to face a massive natural disaster in the form of floods. While villages were flooded with water due to heavy rains in Jammu, in Kashmir Valley Jhelum River started flowing over the danger mark. Due to encroachments, natural water flows were blocked. All localities including in Srinagar were under water.
Without wasting any time, RSS came into action to help the victims. More than 500 activists and 200 doctors reached Jammu to serve the affected people. The camps were in function for more than 2 months.
Towards total integration
The last two decades have tested the mettle of nationalist forces in Jammu Kashmir, but they have finally triumphed. Today, terrorism and separatism are fighting their last battle of survival. There was a time when most people and even the government thought Kashmir was slipping out of hand. Some even opined that the state should be
trifurcated so that at least Jammu and Ladakh can be secured. Many advocated converting the Line of Control into international border. The nationalist forces in Jammu Kashmir have rejected all this negativity and proved their strength by their perseverance.
The only question today is how to regain the Bharatiya territory across the LoC. How to allay the confusion created on the issue of Jammu Kashmir due to international diplomacy?
How to unmask the falsehoods established through the silence of the central government for six decades and bring the truth before the people?
The issue of Jammu Kashmir has entered a new phase wherein the truth has to be established on the basis of facts and logic. The RSS has accepted even this challenge and a continuous effort is on to bring the truth before the people through research-based, systematic and scientific studies. The way the issue of Jammu Kashmir has come into focus during the last few years itself proves the effectiveness of these efforts.
The writer is a Akhil Bharatiya Sah-Sampark Pramukh
Presented By: Ashutosh Bhatnagar