Srinagar, Oct 01: GN Gilkar founded Azad Kashmir on October 4, 1947, and the same day delivered his first presidential address. Gilkar said: “With the end of the British rule, Maharaja Hari Singh’s claim to rule the state (by virtue of the Sale Deed of Amritsar) has also come to an end. Kashmir was sold to Hari Singh’s grandfather Gulab Singh for 7.5 million Rupees. Now the people have formed an ad hoc government with its headquarters at Tradkhal. From October 4, if Hari Singh or any other person claims to govern the state, he shall be punished in accordance with the laws framed by the ad hoc government. The people should follow the laws made by the ad hoc government from now onwards.” This speech was reported by all Pakistani newspapers on October 5, 1947.
People by and large do not give due credit to Gilkar for showing exemplary courage on October 4, 1947. He stayed at Tradkhal for two days only. On October 6 he left for Srinagar. Historians believe that he was sent by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah on a special mission to Kashmir. They also say that Gilkar met the Sher-e-Kashmir and the meeting lasted three hours. It is also believed that some important decisions were taken during the meeting. However, this is far from reality. He was not on a secret mission.
Gilkar ridiculed Sheikh Abdullah: “Al Taweelu Ahmakun Ila Omar(all tall men are fools except Hazrat Omar).” The Sher-e-Kashmir’s response merits special mention. He said: “I will build an iron wall between Kashmir and Pakistan. You will die licking it like Yajooj Majooj.”
Fortunately some of the people who witnessed the historic events are still alive and can be contacted. Gilkar’s trusted worker and namesake, lives at Qamarwari. In an interview with me, he lifted the veil from Gilkar’s activities on his arrival in Srinagar.
According to him, Gilkar contacted his workers on his arrival in Srinagar. All of them asked him why he had left Tradkhal. “I am needed here. I am a soldier and have to remain present here. I did my job at Tradkhal,” he told them.
This was the time when Gilkar believed that Kashmiris must opt for Pakistan. He had come here to make people of Kashmir understand the importance of joining Pakistan. Some posters were published to convey the message. As Gilkar and his workers were busy spreading the message, young Gilkar was arrested in November along with a bundle of posters. He was lodged in the Safa Kadal Police Station. A few days later, Gilkar senior was also arrested and taken to the same police station. A National Conference goon came rushing in and slapped Gilkar. The prisoners were then taken to the Kothi Bagh Police Station which was a declared a sub-jail. A few days later, they were shifted to the Central Jail in Srinagar.
It was here that Gilkar junior said that the Sher-e-Kashmir had met Gilkar and tried to persuade him to join his government. The senior, however, ridiculed him: “Al Taweelu Ahmakun Ila Omar (all tall men are fools except Hazrat Omar).” The Sher-e-Kashmir’s response merits special mention here. He said: “I will build an iron wall between Kashmir and Pakistan. You will die licking it like Yajooj Majooj.” Earlier, Bakhshi Ghulam Muhammad also met Gilkar in the jail, but he was polite and gave due respect to Gilkar Sahib.
Gilkar was released on January 19, 1949 and pushed back to Pakistan. Immediately, after reaching Pakistan, Gilkar launched a newspaper, Hamara Kashmir, and highlighted the problems of the Kashmiri Muhajireen. He also became a strong advocate of independent Kashmir.
He contested presidential elections against K H Khurshid but lost. For his straightforwardness, Gilkar was imprisoned several times for criticizing the Kashmir policy of the Government of Pakistan, but he continued his struggle. Gilkar lived from hand to mouth in his run-down Rawalpindi house. In this house Gilkar authored a master plan for beautification of Srinagar in 1970. It was published in an issue of Aayeena the same year.
Gilkar was straight and blunt. He criticised Pakistan for its Kashmir policy. He lived from hand to mouth in Pakistan but did not compromise his stand and honour. Once, Gilkar was invited to grace a function held to celebrate the Independence Day of Pakistan at Mirpur. In his address, Gilkar said, “August 14 and 15 are auspicious days for the people ofPakistan and India, but for Kashmiris these days are most inauspicious. Our slavery started from here.”
Syed Rasool of Rainawari, also present at the function, saw many an eyebrow rise. Syed fortunately is still alive and lives in Nishat.
According to Syed, Gilkar one day asked his wife to cook saag (a Kashmiri vegetable). On that day he desperately wanted to talk to a Kashmiri in his mother tongue. Gilkar breathed his last next morning (July 18, 1973) at Rawalpindi. Kashmiris heard about the tragic news over Radio Pakistan. Next day ghaibana namaz-e-jenaza (funeral prayer in absentia) was offered at the Pathar Masjid here. Thousands of people participated in the funeral prayer which was led by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. On July 20, a condolence meeting was held at Gilkar’s ancestral house at Fateh Kadal, Srinagar. Representatives of all political organizations participated in the condolence meeting and paid glowing tributes to Gilkar.
Courtesy: Kashmir Reader