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Unsung Saviour Of Kashmir : Maqbool Sherwani
|by R C Ganjoo|
Every year, on its Infantry Day, the Indian Army commemorates saviour of Kashmir Mohd Maqbool Sherwani. It has also constructed a Memorial Hall in his name in Baramulla town. But that is all. None else observes a day for this saviour whom the tribals captured on November 7, 1947 and virtually crucified.
Highlighting Maqbool’s daring deed , his first cousin Ghulam Mohd Sherwani, General Secretary, District Congress Committee, Baramulla, says, "Way back in 1947, the young Mohd Maqbool Sherwani was just 19 but he single-handedly frustrated the advance of thousands of raiders (Kabailis) from Baramulla, thus giving valuable time to the Indian Army to land in Srinagar and push back raiders. The raiders put him on a wooden cross, nailed him and fired upon 10-15 times. He remained like that for two to three days. His body was brought down only when the Army reached the place.”
Ghulam Mohd says that when the raiders were heading for Srinagar, Maqbool Sherwani misguided the infiltrators on to wrong routes and made them lose four precious days so that the Indian army could reach Srinagar for its defence. When Maqbool was captured by raiders, the Amir of raiders softly told Maqbool “You are a promising young man. We will forgive you if you yourself join us. As proof positive of your change of heart, you must tell us the secret position of the militia (state force) and Indian troops in Shalteng and also show us the shortest route to the Srinagar aerodrome". “No, that shall not be", was the firm reply of the saviour Sherwani. The Amir wrote "Sherwani is the traitor; his punishment is death" on a piece of paper in Urdu and pasted it on his forehead . The Amir ordered his his men, "Tie his ears and his drooping head and arms straight to the posts so that every passer-by can see him.. Fire …" .
On 8th of November, 1947, raiders were driven out of Baramulla. One of the first acts of the freed people was to reclaim the dead body of Sherwani and to bury it in the graveyard of Juma Masjid of the town with full military honours.
Since his childhood Maqbool was a dedicated activist of Sheikh Mohd Abdullah. He was martyred before he could marry Zeba with whom he was engaged. When Mohammad Ali Jinnah visited Kashmir and spoke at Baramulla on his 'two-nation' theory Sherwani forced him to come down from the platform and this stopped his speech. Ever since the founding of the All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference in 1939 by Sheikh Abdullah, Maqbool Sherwani had been a staunch supporter
of the national cause of the forty lakhs of Kashmiris who demanded freedom from the Dogra monarchy. “ But today the Sherwanis are being looked upon as “traitors’’ and branded as “Indian agents.. The successive governments have ignored them ," says Ghulam Mohd.
Amir ordered his men, "Tie his ears and his drooping head and arms straight to the posts so that every passer-by can see him.. Fire …" . On 8th of November, 1947, raiders were driven out of Baramulla. One of the first acts of the freed people was to reclaim the dead body of Sherwani and to bury it in the graveyard of Juma Masjid of the town with full military honours.
Memorial hall in in the name of Maqbool Sherwani constructed by the army.
About Sheikh Mohd Abdullah, he says that he was a self centered person who never cared for his loyalist workers after getting power . That tradition still continues in the National Conference. “ When my brother was assassinated, Maqbool’s father Mohd Abdullah Sherwani met Sheikh Mohd Abdullah and asked for a livelihood for his other son. Sheikh Mohd Abdullah did not care," he says.
Ghulam Mohd is the only person from the Maqbool Sherwani’s family who joined politics in 1958 when he was serving in the education department. Later, he became an active member of Indian National Congress in 1975. Asked about the Kashmir problem, he said there would be no end to the ongoing dialogues process being held between India and Pakistan and Kashmir would remain depressed.
He said, “those who visited Pakistan or PoK in private discussion told me that they have no love for Pakistan”. Commenting upon the political scenario of the state, he said, "Coalition governments in J&K state never worked. When Mir Qasim was Congress chief minister, the party was being considered pro-people party and it flourished but after his removal the party slipped into lobbyism. The central leadership of Congress is responsible for encouraging lobbyism between Gulam Nabi Azad, Union Health Minister, and Prof. Saifudin Souze (State President of Congress)."
He said that he met Congress President Sonia Gandhi in 2009 with a memorandum of the grievances of workers and requested her to set the state committee in order, but 'till now nothing has happened.’ About the Congress-National Conference alliance, he said, "both are cutting each other’s roots. The coalition between the two has never ever percolated down to grass-roots ."
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