Pran Nath Jalali spoke to met at his home in New Delhi on 30 March 2007 about his youthful political activity in Kashmir in the 1940s - including his allegiance to Communism and involvement in the National Conference and in the Quit Kashmir movement, which led to him being jailed. He also spoke about his memories of the Kashmir militia - of which he was political officer - raised in late 1947 when Srinagar was under threat of being overrun by armed tribal fighters from Pakistan.
A full transcript of this conversation with Mr Jalali is posted below.
I interviewed Pran Nath Jalali for a second time on 11 April 2007 going over a similar range of topics. The audio of that second interview is posted below, and a transcript further down this page.
Pran Nath Jalali: transcript
Interviewed by AW at Mr Jalali’s home in Panscheel Park, New Delhi, 30 March 2007
Mr Jalali is a Kashmiri speaking Pandit – a journalist, a freedom fighter, friendly and open in manner, though unwell and with a hacking cough. When I visited him, Ajit Bhattacharjea was also there, showing him a draft of the latter’s political biography of Sheikh Abdullah. Jalali was active in the CPI from 1941-49. He later lived in Czechoslovakia, returning to India in the mid-50s, and working as a journalist, most notably for the Press Trust of India in Srinagar. He says that the JKLF sent a hit team from the UK in a serious attempt on his life in 1983. He fled Srinagar in 1989 when he heard that another attack on him was imminent. Although he has returned occasionally, he hadn’t been to the valley for two years – mainly because of ill health. He lent me a copy of a c1948 publication ‘Kashmir Defends Democracy’, with a remarkable design of a cover featuring armed Kashmiri women. He said the main figure depicted in drawing lying with a rifle was ‘Zuni’. He knew the names of quite a few of the women featured in the photograph and said four or five were still alive. A few, not all that many, of the women had been Communist sympathisers. He said that on the same page as the photo of Sherwani, he [ie Sherwani] was also the middle of the three militia men aiming rifle. Jalali also showed me copies of NC militia documents from 1947-48 – quite a bundle, including one which he said was the first such document dating from early November 1947. He said the originals of these documents had been ‘looted’ (presumably after he left Srinagar hurriedly in 89). Jalali appeared to be a political officer in the militia.
Pran Nath Jalali … I was born in 1928 on December 28. … The normal background of a Kashmiri boy. I started from a school called Church Missionary School which was one of the best … in Srinagar. If you are a missionary boy you are something different from the rest, in terms of your commitments, social commitments, other things. And I still feel proud of being, having my principal, Mr Eric Biscoe, and the old Biscoe also.
AND YR FATHER WAS WORKING …
In the postal services. He was in the post office.
AND YOU WERE A KASHMIRI SPEAKING BOY?
Very much Kashmiri speaking. … The only thing that I have … my achievement is to be a boy from Missionary School. And that you will find something distinct in Kashmir. …
SO YOU WERE BORN IN LATE 1928 BUT YOU WERE JUST MENTIONING THAT YOU BECAME INVOLVED WITH THE COMMUNIST MOVEMENT IN THE EARLY 1940s. YOU WERE VERY YOUNG.
41, 41 to be precise. Then in 42 officially I got attached to Communist Party – I mean, I ran away from my home to join the first study circle, they called it, which was held in Kashmir on a lake, Dal lake … . It was in a boat called ‘doonga’ [?] . We had the first schooling on Communist ideology in that doonga. And the teacher was from Lahore, a revolutionary who had met Lenin.
WHO WAS THAT?
Faizlali Qurban [?], who later defected – I mean he defected in the sense he took to, well, I think he did the right thing, he joined the official labour union.
WHO ELSE WAS THERE ON THAT BOAT?
We were about, I think fourteen of us. Mostly students.
No. There were Pandits, there were Muslims. And you will be surprised – two of them were brothers and Bakshi Ghulam Adbullah [?? perhaps said or meant Mohammad] became Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir after 53 and had a very leading role in the whole freedom struggle. And actually it was Bakshi and Ghulam Sadiq who sponsored this school. And, well, there’s a story behind it, why they did it – that ‘s a different thing. But they were the people. And you will be surprised that the secretary of the first Communist unit in Kashmir was Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad. The first confrerence of Communist unit was held in his residence in Khanhkaya sokta [ph]. But that association of Bakshi lasted for a few months so he disassociated himself completely from the Communist movement.
AND WHEN DID BABA BEDI COME ON THE SCENE?
Bedi came somewhere 43, 44.
Yeah. Communist. He was in fact deputed by Punjab party, Punjab Communist party, to look after the communists in Jammu and Kashmir.
IN 44 HOW MANY COMMUNISTS WERE THERE SAY IN SRINAGAR?
Well, 44 – good number.
20, 30 who were sort of giving their whole time to the party activities. But there were a good number of sympathisers, mainly among students, and they had made inroads into the trade union movement. For instance, there was very powerful trade union called silk factory workers union, and then there was another – and by 45, 46 they controlled all trade union movement, which was the most important sector of National Conference movement in Jammu and Kashmir.
SO COMMUNISTS WERE WORKING WITHIN THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE?
Within the National Conference. They did not raise their hand that here we are, communists. Except that everybody knew that there were comm – even Sheikh sahib knew. He didn’t like it but he, it was not just innate [?].
SO IT WAS ENTRYISM?
BUT IT WAS COMMUNISTS AS A MATTER OF POLICY – WORKING WITHIN THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE BUT NOT PUBLICLY DISCLOSING THEIR COMMUNIST ALLEGIANCE.
No. Publicly of course the communist allegiance was there. There was no ban as such. But we were conscious not to rub Sheikh sahib on the wrong side because he was very sensitive about any parallel political activity.
WHEN YOU WERE A TEENAGER AND ACTIVE IN THE COMMUNIST MOVEMENT, WHAT WAS YOUR VIEW OF SHEIKH SAHIB?
Well there are two things. When I joined there was already this controversy with the left about the role of Sheikh –in a general way which was popularised by – Prem Nath Bazaz was the first left leaning intellectual in the National Conference – was that Sheikh was an authoritarian, an incorrigible authoritarian, and there can be no compromise with him. But our view was different. Sheikh was authoritarian. In an area with the type of backwardness you have here, especially confronting a Muslim mullah-led movement, he had to adopt that type of approach. Which was not communal. Which was – I mean, his idiom was Islamic. If he used to address a public meeting, from A to Z it was an Islamic idiom. He would recall the Koranic precepts, then about the history of Islam … but all with en emphasis on that humanity is one, Koran says it’s one, there is no difference between Hindu and Muslim. It was that type of approach. Then it was oriented towards raising the life of downtrodden, especially the peasantry.
DID YOU HEAR HIM SPEAK OFTEN?
Yes – any, every speech, each speech he made I had to be present. Because I had a, you see, I was a good singer I should say so before he would start a meeting, he would invite me to sing a patriotic song and meetings would begin with that thing.
CAN YOU REMEMBER THE SONG?
Song – now I can’t, I’m too old … well if you like I can sing – this is in Kashmiri (then 15” of singing – 8’32”). This is calling on the bulbul … come, let us create a new spring, and you go on speaking unhesitatingly.
A NATIONAL CONFERENCE SONG?
It is a song from one of our national poet, Mahjoor [?], but adopted by National Conference. It was a very popular song because it talked of awakening – how important it is to express yourself.
THE NAYA KASHMIR MANIFESTO AND THE TURN TO THE LEFT – WAS THAT COMMUNISTS?
THE COMMUNISTS DID IT?
They did it – it was Punjab Communist Party who drafted the thing.
It was actually a group of people, but mainly B.P.L. Bedi. Because there was not much drafting to be done except to write the introduction. It was almost a carbon copy of one of the , you see, these Soviet republics, central Asian republics – if you see that, compare it to that, you will see there’s a lot of resemblance. In terms of charters, of workers’ charter, women’s cnarter, and all. That way it suited – there was no controversy. The only thing was the introduction which was written on behalf of Sheikh, and Sheikh’s -. where he praised ?????
SO WHO WROTE THE INTRODUCTION?
Introduction. Bedi. Bedi – it was done under the supervision of Dr Adhikari who was the ideologue of Communist Party of India. But the drafting was done by Bedi. Actually it was present – because National Conference wanted to present a memorandum to maharaja. And maharaja had just come from the war theatre to Srinagar. Ss it was his first tour of the city. He was hesitating – but National Conference had given him assurance that we will support your visit and he got very good popular reception. Then he passed through the headquarters of National Conference in ????????? and it was presented to him by Sheikh as a charter for what he would do, Maharaja Hari Singh. He received that, that’s all. That became – one good thing, that it became a rallying cry later, especially the one charter regarding peasants where it said that land would belong to those who till it. And it was that way an anti-feudal programme. The rest of the things were – there were no industries worth the name in Kashmir so there was no question of having a workers’ charter, anything like that.
AND THE SYMBOL OF THE PLOUGH ON THE RED BACKGROUND –
You see, this plough on red background was finalised at a conference when the Muslim Conference got converted into National – That was 1938. And incidentally the whole thing, this symbol, was finally decided by a Hindu delegate. Because there was one allegation by Jan Sangh, by pradu parishad [?]in Jammu, that this flag is a separate Islamic kind of thing and yet they had no objection to bowing before the maharaja’s flag which mentioned very boldly … that he is the spear of the British empire. They extolled that flag, but this they wouldn’t like. This flag was finalised, there were a number of suggestions about the flag – colour, what should be – finally it was decided that it should have red background and this plough symbolising the – not unlike the Communist party flag … predominatly it was a peasant state. ..
THE QUIT KASHMIR CAMPAIGN – WERE YOU INVOLVED IN THAT?
Yes, in fact I was one of the – there was a war council set up that was to lead the movement after Sheikh’s arrest. 22 members. I was there on behalf of the students, I and another – a student colleague of mine. … I was one of the first to court arrest, in fact the first. Because the orders were from the government that anyone who dares to address a public meeting in defiance of these order will be shot at and his property confiscated. So there was a threat of collapse of movement because not many came forward. So we had to make a decision what to do. So I was asked to lead the thing. And strangely enough I addressed a public meeting at a Muslim shrine … Hazratbal shrine. And I remember when I was – we used to call those who at the court [?] us dictators. So when I got up there were troops ready around the thing. But they didn’t fire – I was arrested.
HOW LONG DID YOU SPEND IN DETENTION?
That was in May I got arrested – and next September
47. 46 I was first sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment and fine. Then I was given an order to be detained for the rest of the period. About September next year I was released. In the general amnesty.
AT THE SAME TIME AS SHEIKH SAHIB?
Same time. In fact, I think the day after Sheikh was released. (15’38)
WHAT WAS THE MOOD LIKE IN SRINAGAR WHEN THE SHEIKH GOT OUT OF JAIL
Oh, it was upsurge, jubilation at his release. But there was an air of concern all around because of the happenings elsewhere, in Pakistan. The country was - there was a fratricidal war but somehow Kashmir escaped that bit. That was the one good feather in the hat of Skeikh Abdullah – it was because of Sheikh’s presence. And 47, then things changed quickly. There was a threat of communal polarisation. So in response to that situation Sheikh called for a, first, peace brogade.
THIS WAS AFTER HIS RELEASE FROM PRISON?
Prison. After his release from prison, he made a very important, significant speech and that was the official position of the National Conference. That is he called for – he called upon Pakistan to come to a conference table and support our freedom struggle. And after the attainment of freedom, let the people of Jammu and Kashmir decide which way to go, Pakistan or India. The slogan was that freedom first, accession later. But Pakistan did not accept that claim.
TELL ME HOW YOU ENROLLED IN THE VOLUNTEER MOVEMENT
Well, you see, as I told you, there was a rapid change in moods, other things, and there was apprehension – so then there was the attack. And we had information about this preparation right from June. In fact, we were the first to know because of our links across. And incidentally the first person who spoke against the raid was the person who had organised these forces across, in Azad Kashmir. He was the head of this Muslim, what they call that, I forgot that, this was the main armed force –
THE MUSLIM LEAGUE NATIONAL GUARDS?
National Guards, yes. And he was from Bagh, called Captain Akram – he was a good friend of, I had lived in Poonch from about 12, so I knew the whole of Poonch and especially Bagh. He was very close to me. He was also arrested with the Muslims who he had brought from Poonch. So it was through him we got to know, because he was connected with the Communist party. Just a vague – he had taken part in Royal Indian Mutiny, the Indian navy mutiny, and found shelter in the Communsist party headquarter. He had just watched P.C. Joshi’s lifestyle and that had impressed him also. So he thought he was also a Communist.
DID YOU KNOW SARDAR ABDUL QAYYUM KHAN IN POONCH?
There were two Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khans –
THERE WAS THE ONE WHO WAS THE CHIEF MINISTER OF THE FROTNEIR PROVINCE
BUT THERE WAS THE ONE WHO WAS ONE OF THE LEADERS OF THE POONCH REVOLT –
No, I didn’t – I knew Qayyum Khan in a different capacity. I spent quite some time in Poonch, and especially Bagh, and Qayyum Khan was one of the Muslim Conference functionaries, not very much known. But as 47, 46, ??? control for Pakistan was played by this Qayyum Khan . He was - people don’t remember that he was deputy leader of Congress legislature party in the centre. And he spent most of the time in Srinagar away from Congress politics, that is he didn’t court arrest during Quit India movement. And finally he defected to the other side. But he was working probably the link, one of the important links in the chain of intrigue. (20’12)
WHICH QAYYUM KHAN IS THIS EXACTLY?
The one who became Frontier –
THE ONE WHO BECAME FORNTIER CHIEF MINISTER?
Chief Minister. He was the one who was organising these raiders and all. And incidentally Qayyum Khan was a Kashmiri by descent. He was a landlord also ???
HOW DID YOU JOIN THE VOLUNTEER MOVEMENT?
Well, I didn’t join, I in fact organised the volunteer movement. We – I tell you what happened. When the attack there was – what to do about it. So we discussed the matter with Sheikh. And he was extremely worried and he said well – because he knew what was the final objective and we knew they wanted to take over Srinagar. In fact, right when we were in the prison, we knew the intrigue. There was some sort of agreement between R.C. Kak, who worked on the, Resident’s perception of Kashmir. He was very much - I have his documents, letters, which clearly indicate that he wanted to annihilate the National Conference movement. That was perhaps his assignment - he thought it was some sort of Russian sponsored movement. Which was probably an excuse to suppress the movement. But he didn’t succeed because of Gandhi. I mean he - . So we had given – I had told you about call for building a voluntary corps, called peace brigade, to maintain communal peace. But now this was not enough. So he said what to do. He gave the call – he was to address a Eid meeting. And we discused his speech with him – unless you make it a two sided thing, that is you said freedom first – so freedom must come in concrete shape so alone defence becomes under our volunteers, force. So he said what to do – give a final call for preparation, ask people to fight the battle with arms. So until then it was a non violent movement and all and he gave a call for arms, that asked from where you have any arms and fight, yours is a double battle, one is against autocracy and you have to defend the country against the raiders. That electrified the atmosphere. We gave a call for 20,000 volunteers. The very first night and next morning, by then we had about 10,000 recruits – people who had enlisted. So the first group of scouts who did the reconn work, went right up to Baramulla and came back, spread in the villages. We had people ready who did it. Some of them were ex ????, soldiers, and that attempt in fact – first batch that got killed was about seven persons who were killed by mistake. That’s what our investigation showed, that there was no intent of it – in Srinagar itself.
I’VE READ THE ACCOUNTS OF THIS. THIS WAS IN A CLASH WITH THE SIKH REGIMENT.
A PATROL OF VOLUNTEERS -
There was no clash –
THEY WERE MISTAKEN FOR RAIDERS
Raiders. Actually, the mistake was on our part. They wanted to go and meet – some of them were from the same Sikh battalion. And so they wanted to meet their old – thinking that they would just walk in. But they had their password and things, so when they reached there they thought there was – and they killed them. And left the bodies there. There was a group of Pak spies and activists who were pro-Pak – there was a good number. They took up these bodies as to demonstrate, look this is Indian army’s atrocities. And they took the procession … from Rambagh down. So I was asked to handle the thing – so I said nothing doing, no arms should be used. We must halt the procession – because there was – and all of them were very important people, I mean, workers, well known workers. One was from a family whose three sons had been killed in the National Conference movement – and this was his third son getting killed. So they came to our headquarters but happily enough no clash took place there. And after about 100 metres or so, at Maisuma, we were able to persuade them to hand over the bodies. And those bodies were – we got an assurance from, General Kulwant Singh was in charge of the campaign against Pakistan and raiders, that there will be proper investigation and people will be punished. But in haste we buried all of them, including Pandits, two of them. And in fact, I have been crying hoarse – nobody now talks about the sacrifices made by militia. About 42 of them died in fighting –
42? SO THEY ACTUALLY TOOK UP ARMS, THEY FOUGHT?
Yeah, yeah – in different places. One of them was almost – in fact, I – you see, when the liberation of Baramulla took place, I led – there were no reserves with the Indian army – people who discussed who – Nehru let down and there was no orders for an offensive beyond Uri One reason is Indian army had no reserves. And so I took – there was a report that there was fresh information from south, from Tithwal area. And I took two companies and one police company also –
THIS IS AFTER THE INDIAN ARMLY HAD ENTERED BARAMULLA
Yeah after they had liberated Baramulla. And so we did encounter some - but there was no big infiltration. We got about 32 raiders. Some of them were killed in the skirmishes. We didn’t have very big encounter with the enemy. But one sector, that is Higam [?] sector, we found that there was a big group, about 250 of them, who were encamped there.
IN WHICH SECTOR?
Higam, it’s known,in this very sector, south of – that is Lolab side.
SO YOU USED A RIFLE, YOU HELD A RIFLE?
What we did was, you see there were four of us – myself, there was one, three more. Two of them are dead. One became a minister – Noor Mohammad. A third was who became deputy chief of staff of Indian army, I forget the names. Then the fourth got killed in Tithwal – he had joined the regular force later when we resigned. This was Pushkar Zaroo [?]. And we took – we were four of us to go to investigate whether this report was correct. Because this police company came running away that a huge force has entered Higam. So I got them back to the barracks – they created panic. And there was no sign that they had done any fighting anywhere. One – at the head of the police force was one who was of my grandfather’s size [?], so I took out his belt and put him in the lock-up. And we went to investigate and we found that the report was correct, but there was no attack as the police company had reported,
AND YOU HAD WEAPONS?
Yes. We had weapons. Rifles. All of us had.
HAD YOU EVER BEEN TRAINED TO USE A RIFLE?
Very quick training – we learned while fighting mostly. Three basic things, that is – attack and encounter. What they call in army attack and encounter – second, how to throw a grenade – how to march. Basic, small things. And we went to Higam to investigate, but when we heard the report that this thing – this was about 10 miles away were they were encamping. So what we did was we took the villagers along with us – while crossing those ten villages we took all the villagers, some of them we forced, and asked them to raise slogans for freedom. We gave the impression to them that a huge army backed by people is coming – we didn’t let them know. And we went on negotiating with them, and by three o’clock the person who was negotiating was their own man but we had ????? He was a very well known smuggler who used to operate right up to the frontier. (30’30) But he behaved well – he kept his word. And he finally got their surrender. So they agreed to surrender. They surrendered their weapons – we let them off. But we got their weapons and ammunition. It was very sizeable – 250 rifles, some 3 machine guns, hundreds of grenades and things like that. And we only as a mark of - we said oe of you has to come with us, so we got their deputy commander, I forget his name. This was – the one who lead them was Major Amanullah.
THESE WERE MAINLY PATHANS?
No, we call them Kar Pathans [?] They are Pathans, but semi-Pathans. Some of them – you know, on the border you find these Pathans, Kashmiri Pathans. So that’s how they were billeted there.
Yes, mostly from Hazara – they’re not the regular, not part of the regular force that had invaded. But they went back.
WHEN YOU GOT INTO BARAMULLA, HOW MANY DAYS WAS THAT AFTER THE LIBERATION?
The next day, very next day.
HOW DID YOU TRAVEL?
By bus. We had our own, with the militia, two buses – that was somehow we had retained them. And by then Indian army had got its own vehicles. But we travelled in a bus.
WHAT WAS BARAMULLA LIKE?
Oh, it was a desolate, burnt, half-burnt – no, not a soul – Baramulla used to be a bustling town, very beautiful town, especially because of the St Joseph College, it was very well known. And the trading centre - fruit used to be exported from there. So all that had changed. There was all - anywhere. If found there was two – they had victimised, identified two victims. One was known as balwallah kaffir then another was simple kaffir Balwallah kaffir suffered most ,that is sardars, Sikhs. And I remember we were told – maybe that was an exaggeration – that about 300 girls and so women, Sikh women and other Hindu women, committed suicide by jumping into the Jhelum from the bridge, Baramulla bridge. There were many such pathetic reports. Incidentally, I must during this – our operations in the south when we were pursuing this fresh infiltrators. We went to a place – our headquarters were at Handwara and we went out one night, a village some 10 or 12 kilometeres from Handwara town. Late in the night two people came to persuade us to take away Sikhs whom they had protected. We went there after ascertaining that it was not a trap, we went with this old man thinking that it would be a group of 10 or 20 Sikhs. Imagine 500 families of Sikhs – women, children – and they had sent them deep into the mountains, they were keeping a relay, sending food everything, but not a soul disclosed that these Sikh families were there. I still remember that scene. They were coming – we took them back – and their ponies, everything – the way these Sikh women, old men, were kissing the feet of villagers, crying openly that how to express their gratefulness to them for having protected them - the women and children. We also had – both the things were there – some who had collaborated with the enemy and killed people and also looted property. Looted property was sizeable – and in Handwara sector, we collected quite a bit and got it back. And wherever the looted people were living, we returned it to them. There some families had come all the way from Hazara, from Hindu families – before, just during the partition massacres, to seek shelter in Kashmir, Hindu families. Some of them had got again trapped in Handwara – there were trembling with this vision [?] thinking that – But they were overtaken by this and couldn’t leave. So we rescued them. I remember about five families. One family with three girls, two boys, but their parents had been killed. The kids were protected, saved, by local Muslims – and we rescued them from one Muslim family.
AND IN BARAMULLA WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO THE HINDU AND SIKH WOMEN THERE?
You know, you have seen that hospital where that thing took place – but down below, a few hundred yards away there was on the right side of the road, there was a police station, which was used as a police station. And we went there – it was no longer a police station. It was stinking – sceptic things. The women who had been slit right in the middle – I mean, animal, birds and animals. The had raped them – then after the rape they would slit their bodies.
SIKH WOMEN? OR PANDIT WOMEN?
Both. Pandit women – there were Pandit – at that place there were Pandit women, and some of them were quite young girls. But almost dying. We were able to rescue them, take them to Srinagar.
HOW MANY DO YOU THINK WERE IN THE POLICE STATION?
About 20, 22, 23 – more than.
YOU SAW THEM YOURSELF?
Oh yes, in fact we saw to it that they were put in the bus. There were sent back – I remember two army vehicles. And I remember we took some in our own bus back to Srinagar. There were in the hospital. I don’t know what happened – but obviously some of them did survive, or most of them.
AND DID YOU GO TO THE HOSPITAL AND CONVENT?
Yeah – this Baramulla, hosp, oh yeah, yeah. It was a grim, very horrifying sight – and the way they had killed the nuns. It was brutish. I mean, you can kill your enemies, but there is a way of killing them. They were ruthless – not only ruthless,t hey were just brutal. Helpless women – and the women who had served who had served in a way to bring them back to health, and they were no – they should have been no provocation to anyone – and when we talked to them, they would have served these kabailis, I mean raiders, if they had been injured – And one of them said that we tried to find out initially, we thought that they had come for treatment. But then the whole thing happened. We also saw, you know, hospital beds, and there was a college nearby. They had assembled all these beds, they were iron and steel beds - they were used to roast cows. Because that was their feed. These toilet utensils they had used to eat their food.
Yeah. There was still some rice lying, boiled rice lying, in one of them.
WHO WENT WITH YOU? WAS BABA BEDI WITH YOU?
Mrs Bedi, yes
Freda was there. Freda was everywhere - wonderful woman.
WHAT WAS YOUR OWN FEELING WHEN YOU SAW BARAMULLA?
Anger. I felt sort of you know when I first saw, I said how could man do all this. It was no only the hospital because the hospital got into the news because of the atrocities. But when we went into the city, inner city, across the river – much worse things had happened. And especially the main victims were women. Everywhere the same tale – they had cut off ears, cut off noses, cut off wrists, just because they were in a hurry to take away the gold thing, they were wearing gold and all. They took samovars, you know you brought the tea, contraptions . … missing. But worse was with the women and kids, children.
DID THEY ALSO ATTACK MUSLIM WOMEN?
Yeah – Muslim women. In fact the interesting thing is the family who had all along been great supporters of Jinnah, I don’t want to name the family, everybody knows about it –
IS THIS THE KUKROO FAMILY?
Yeah, yeah. They were very happy so see that Pakistan had sent liberators. But the first week of these liberators were Kukroo family - because they invited their commanders and others for a huge dinner. And after the dinner they entered their zenana, that is the women’s section, and they did worse things –in fact until today they don’t talk about it. They looted, they raped their women I should say, in fact, and that’s how – In fact, that was the start of their campaign. Kukroos suffered at their hands. But they still retained their pro-Pak – because they couldn’t do otherwise. And Kukroos were always in the forefront of – it was the one family that stood by Pakistan. When Jinnah came in 44, that was the only family that came out to receive Jinnah when he was leaving. Jinnah went under an escort – state escort – and in Baramulla he was given a, what would you call it. He was garlanded with shoes and the popular discord - there were slogans against him. (43’10)
DID YOU KNOW MAQBOOL SHERWANI?
Oh yes, yeah. We were together in prison incidentally, in the same barrack. Maqbool was very good, very stout. And he was not liked by these feudal families, the Kukroos and others, they hated him. One reason that they saw to it that he was killed is the reason that he was against these families, against landed property.
HE SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN A BIT OF A RECKLESS GUY, BIT OF A ROGUE
Adventurer. No, not a rogue. He was a very nice person. You – In fact there was a list of 22 volunteers which we framed that evening to go behind the enemy lines. He was one of them. But being an adventurer and a bit showy, that here I am going - he held public meetings village to village, and rode into the enemy on a motorbike. That motorbike undid him. The rest of them did work, operate, where they liked – they were till the end of the campaign. And that was very useful, the network they built up for the campaign,
WAS MAQBOOL SHERWANI THE ONLY ONE TO DIE?
Um, yeah. He was the only one from that group. But other people died. They died in the first rush, the first onrush of raiders. In Muzaffarabad, there was Master Abdul Aziz. There was one boy who was in the customs department, and he had been from our group in student – he was a student. But that type, that commitment, was there with him while he was working in the customs department, and he gave shelter to Hindus, a group of Hindus, and he was killed. Because he had given shelter.
BUT THE VOLUNTEERS AND THEN THE MILITIA, THEY WERE STRONGEST IN SRINAGAR?
Stronger in Srinagar.
DID YOU HAVE MANY MEMBERS OUTSIDE?
Yeah, in all the tehsils. We – in fact the first encounter that took place in which Major Somnath died, there was parallel in this what that’s place name, the airport. In action was our company, headed by R.C. Raina and Ghulam Ahmad Malik. And one is dead – R.C. Raina became the P.A. to Sheikh later. And they did well – better than the Indian army. Because they knew the local conditions. What they did was they asked villagers – they got help from villagers and inundated the whole area with water. So it was very difficult – because the type of soil you have on that area, is muddy. So putting more water, it was, you see, any force to make an advance – But Indian army company did not take at that moment our help in that ??? . In fact they had been briefed by somebody who gave them the address of an officer who was in the police, Kashmiri police, but whose family was well known pro-Pak. So we had warned them that be careful about that but they didn’t accept – Because the propaganda was that here’s a communist army. And we had no such programme or no such instructions to indulge in communist revolution.
BUT WERE MANY OF THE LEADING PEOPLE IN THE MILITIA COMMUNISTS?
Almost all. All the leading – No, there were quite a sizeable group of people who were not communists, indeed one of them was an important commander, Major Abdul. He was an anti-comm – but at the personal level, very good relations. Because we didn’t introduce anything of communism or communist education. Except that literacy programme was a must. We had two types of command, what was known as political command and the military command. Political command did not mean communist education, but it meant literacy plus the history of freedom struggle in Jammu and Kashmir, the issues of Jammu and Kashmir and so on.
WHEN YOU WERE IN SRINAGAR, DID YOU FEEL THAT THE CITY MIGHT FALL?
No. Not at all. Well, I might tell you there was a controversy which was very unfortunate between the army command, that is Bogey Sen - decided to withdraw. And his assessment was that enemy was converging on the airport and they will take over the airport and then there is no supply route in. So then he decided that the army should withdraw to Pampore. That was on a day when all over the city there was, everybody was marching: hamla amra khabba dar ham Kashmir hai tayar [?] and it would have been such a grave tragedy leaving people at the mercy of this – that they allowed raiders to enter, it would have been a mass massacre. Especially of the minorities – the minorities were happy, there were marriages taking place because of the Muslims around them. And every mohalla had a unit of the peace guard, that is home guard. What is more important is a bal sena, children’s – they were doing much more good work with kids than anyone else. And – so we said nothing doing. Our assessment was different. And our assessment was correct. Because we felt that the enemy was, you see, coming from three sides - one was the downtown area then from the main road and the airport side. Bogey said no they will converge on – Our assessment was, which was based on a very solid intelligence, that they will converge on the main road and make a thrust. How we got this information wa,s do you know – if you have been to Srinagar, we have a thing called baas [?] there is a doonga, there is shikara, there is doonga a bigger size boat, then there is a bigger size boat called baas which was used as goods carriers. Huge thing. They’re ample size to – you can accommodate even 200 people, 100 people easily. There is a cover, good cover. So these boats used to be moored near Shalateng, that’s the extreme end, and they were on this side of the river, that is on city side. But our report came that suddenly they had chaged their position to the other side – that is the side from where the enemy was coming. And we said we’ve got the intelligence that they had been bribed or given money to change over – and that guests will come, and they have to get the guests to this side. So we found out these guests were none other than there - and we got no less than 32 people arrested that night in an operation and from there we found that this was ???? So what we did was we put our militia members on guard through those day and night duty after every 100 metres a unit, you see, and be on guard - on the riverfront from the ????? side down up to below Shalateng. And lo and behold what we did was, the same thing happened they converged not towards the airport, finally they converged on the main road thinking that these baas boats will be ready so that they go into them and come to the other side quietly - of the city. Meanwhile, we had ordered all these boats to shift back to the – so they had boats … They were not available to them. That proved decisive. And finally we protested with, the whole night I remember, and the matter was even went right up to Jawaharlal Nehru .. General Kulwant Singh did not agree finally – he said no, nothing doing.
HOW LONG DID THE MILITIA STAY IN EXISTENCE FOR?
Militia began in October – and 48, that is all.
AND THERE WERE WOMEN?
There was a separate women’s brigade – I’ll show you some of the literature from that side. And we had about 20,000 members on the official list [?]. But actually those who were operating were more than 10,000. And women did good commendable work on the side of relief and other help. They did a lot of work. – In fact, one of them is here who is now a retired person. She became principal – Mahmooda, she’s still living, she’s in Jammu, who was the head of the organisation. One of - the other girl who, woman who was heading this women’s brigade was Sadiq’s sister – she’s also dead. And there’s yet another, Usha, who’s now in Bombay. Quite a few. There was one group of sisters called Laquerra [???] sisters, they did a lot. Then there was one working woman, ordinary, ordinary in the sense she was a milkmaid, a famous woman called Zuni. She was a livewire [?] – mobilising women. Everywhere she was. And a terror for – That was fascinating days. In fact I have been crying hoarse that this is one force which should be treated as freedom fighters and their families should be taken care of. … I intend to organise an exhibition of documents of that period to tell the people that there was something like this. And also the martyrs, who all they were, where did they die, how did they die.
WHEN DID YOU SEE SHEIKH ABDULLAH AFTER THE RAIDERS WERE IN RETREAT?
Almost, that was almost a daily - Not daily exactly, but it was just a mile or a quarter of a mile distance. They had their headquarters in Regina Hotel, you’ve see the Nedou’s hotel, it was just adjoining, adjacent to it. That was the headquarters of the Emerency Administration where Sheikh used to be. Our headquarter was first in a hotel called – you see Palladium cinema, adjoining it is a hotel and guest house, that used to be called Kashmiri guest house. That was our headquarter first. Then we shifted to exhibition grounds when -
I THOUGHT THE PALLADIUM WAS YOUR HEADQUARTERS
Yes, yes, Palladium – no, there were two wings. One was, as I told you, was peace maintenance, that was Home Guard. The other was national militia, which was an armed wing. Home Guard was also virtually armed but they had mostly dandas. But we had rifle, we had armoury, huge armoury. We had regular army type. …
WERE YOU AROUND WHEN SHEIKH ABDULLAH WAS SWORN IN AS HEAD OF THE EMERGECNY ADMNISTRATION? (57’25)
Yeah. In fact we had much to do in choosing who should be what in the administration, emergency administration. Of course, we couldn’t tell Sheikh that you have to be this – but rest of things, there was one, incidentally, defence minister or a defence in charge, which was significant because you don’t have a separate defence minister or administrator. We had a defence administrator - Ghulam Sadir was one.
WERE THESE COMMUNISTS?
Sadiq was, yes – pro-communist.
AND THE COMMUNISTS WERE QUITE CLEARLY PRO-INDIA AT THIS STAGE
Yeah – there was no question. On this issue actually the Communist Party of India was I should say clear – in fact it was more because of one P.C. Joshi, who was the general secretary. Then came the other page, that’s B.J. (sic) Rana - . P.C. Joshi sent a letter – I still remember it was a two page letter typed on this paper, very thin paper. And it was a mandate for the communists – and I remember the title was all for the defence of motherland. So it was a mandate that every communist must take to arms and defend – But Pakistan communist party had a different approach. I mean they were equally to liberate Kashmir. In fact there was one Latif Afghani who was in Srinagar till 44-5-46 – this was an Afghan family who had been banihed from Kabul when Britishers - And he was one of the – forgot the name for them – he had become a communist. And he – they had shifted from Madras to Srinagar. So he had joined one of these groups on this raider groups in the hope of saving us once the raiders had – so he sent a message that don’t worry, I will see to it that you are saved. So that was one, but officially, the Pakistani communist party, of course not that they were supportive of raiders, but, or they went with Akbar Khan and others -
SO YOU ARE SAYING THAT THERE WAS AT LEAST ONE COMMUNIST AMONG THE RAIDERS?
Yeah, yeah – Latif Afghani. But equally we had the leader on out side. In fact, te first appeal made to raiders not to proceed with their attack was from the Radio Kashmir – Radio Kashmir was set up then during that period – was from the head of the Muslim National Guard, that is Captain, I talked to you about Captain Umar [?] – who told them this is, fruitless – there is no enemy on this side – indeed here is a freedom struggle and you withdraw. Plus he talked of the western support which turned into …
HOW DID PEOPLE IN SRINAGAR FEEL WHEN THE MAHARAJA LEFT?
Well, this is personally – you know what happened was after the whole emergency was over – after the raiders were thrown out and down up to Uri, then Maharaja who was, virtually his regime was dead, he tried to reassert – with Mr Mahajan as his Prime Minister. And he wanted to dissolve – he in fact did, he dissolved the emergency administration, reasserted his – and then said that I’ll take one or two popular ministers. He was going back to the diarchy period and nothing had changed from him. He ran away from Kashmir – whatever people might say, he ran away during dead of night. And so did these RSS types, one Balraj Madhok [?] who ran in a mule truck, ran away along with – And today he talks that I did this. I wish that this - Anyway – and when he tried to reassert, that was reversing the whole thing. It came as a rude shock, and Sheikh was very much upset. There were negotiations on that this should not happen. So militia – we declared,in fact people don’t talk of this, that unless Maharaja Hari Singh abdicates and gives power fully into the hands of people’s representatives, militia would not go back to barracks. So we held demonstrations all over the valley, wherever our units were. They went out with arms and demonstrated, with the slogan, Maharaja Hari Singh das bahadar qaumi fuaj hai tayar [?] that meant, Maharja Hari Singh you would, and the national militia is ready otherwise. I think it had its effect. But we were arrested, the leaders of the militia, and court martialled. And ten of us were sentenced in fact. But that went on – it was whole one night affair. And those who had come from – all of us had to converge on Srinagar, and when they came they came marching with these slogans, so that created a strange atmosphere. And that was – Indian army was there, and by that time Indian army, the move was there to absorb the militia into the army – so that hastened the –
WHEN WAS THAT THEN? (64’10)
That was I think 48.
WAS THE MILITIA ABSORBED INTO THE ARMY?
I won’t remember the exact dates –
BUT IT HAPPENED AT SOME STAGE THAT THE MILITIA WAS ABSORBED?
Yeah, yeah. And we were asked then to make the choice – to get into the army, regular army, or leave. So that is how this court martial thing didn’t work. But we refused because the oath that we will remain loyal to maharaja, it was still the maharaja’s army. We said no. In fact, one by one those who did not take that oath – the official oath – were asked to quit, leave. So that’s how we left that – That came, its popular role as such came to an end, from our viewpoint –
AND YOU EVENTUALLY THEN MOVED INTO JOURNALISM AS A CAREER
No, I went back to National Conference, I was a full time political activist. I went back to trade union work. In fact, there was a mushroom growth of trade union because of the huge expectations. Even those who were grass hoopers, you see, who cut grass, they formed a union. Any body who was a working person formed a union. And I remember our first test was, in Baramulla there was a match factory … - this was owned by a person who was close to Nehru ((account of visit to factory and very poor health conditions of hands of child labour there, minister in charge was Ghulam Sadiq, and TUs demanded govt take over of unit or general strike – after a month was taken over and things improved.)) So that is how the clash with National Conference’s leadership came into, us and Sheikh. And that was the period the disillusionment started. What happened was – it’s bunkum that there was pro-Pak feeling but pro-Pak feeling did … You see, with our absence in the militia, the organisations, especially National Conference in the city which was previously under our control – I mean, network of cadre was provided by us, so there was by and large, it was a very good self sacrificing image of a political worker that people in the city had about the National Conference. But after our absence, the traditional worker came and he became the ruler. So any dissent in the locality, he would … that you are a Pakistani spy and some of them used to have warrant of arrest in their pockets. And then they would call them that you have, you are working for Pakistan, and this became a rule everywhere. There was corruption, divorces. They did everything possible – and there was widespread resentment. We protested against this, in fact we then confined to the trade unions, and there trade unions were also parallel organisations, units, in the localities, mohallas. … We formed groups of them became parallel units against the corrupt National Conference. So there was a direct clash with Sheikh, because Sheikh had to depend on them. And there was one instance when there was an almost a condition of famine, that was 48, I remember there was, the average Kashmiri was accustomed to eating rice at the rate of rupees 5 … suddenly he finds it soaring up, the price, to 60 rupees. The average artisan, labourers, they couldn’t afford all this. ((veg supply monopolised by a brother of home minister, and supplying to army.)) All this combined plus repression plus this, this the local worker National Con worker turning himself into a dictator at the local level, a corrupt one, there were even reports of rapes, forcible divorces, arranging one marriage with the other divorce … there was an upheaval of resentment. And Sheikh was aware of it, but he wouldn’t say – because Bakshi was connected with this network. And he thought that the communists would get the upper hand if he corrected it. We had a last meeting with him, he invited me – because there was this Baramulla thing – to cut a long story short, so there was finally a negotiation, a sort of dialogue, talks. He called us for discussion, to decide – and incidentally B.P.L. Bedi was present ((vast amounts of paddy rice taken out of at dead of night and sold at high prices by Sheikh’s elder brother, Bakshi’s elder brother, and Baig’s elder brother – notorious scandal, and PNJ brought it out in a newspaper – angered Sheikh - Bedi ‘was a good friend a very close friend of Sheikh, he supported us’ - urged Sheikh to sacrifice Bakshi – decided to form an opposition party – ‘three of us’ came to Delhi but failed to see Delhi, and Comm leaders ‘busy with their own revolution those days’ – PNJ arrested, ohers went back to Srinagar, and ‘fizzled out’ – distanced from comm party in 49 – ‘I came to the conclusion there were not interested in building up a movement there, and the type of movement they wanted I wasn’t interested’ – three years in Czechoslovakia, China, got disillusioned – came back from China in 57, 56, got married, stayed for a while in Delhi, decided to work as a journalist – criticisms of communism and of Stalin’s collectivisation and killings))
IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT YOUR VIEWS HAVE CHANGED, ARE YOU PROUD OF WHAT YOU DID AS COMMUNIST WHEN YOU WERE A YOUNG MAN IN SRINAGAR?
Yeah – it was not so much to do with communism. I was led to communism because of my firm conviction that, even today also, that there’s no escape from working for the poor to uplift them – of course, now there are a number of other ways. It was a question of getting free, freedom from the British … And communism probably in those days was the best. (80’25)
ENDS - CHECKED
Pran Nath Jalali - 2: TRANSCRIPT
Interviewed for a second time by AW at Mr Jalali’s home in Panscheel Park, New Delhi, 11 April 2007
ON INDIA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY, WHERE WERE YOU?
I was in prison – in the jail, in Srinagar central jail.
DID YOU KNOW IT WAS INDEPENDENCE DAY?
Yeah. Actually, we had a small celebration in the jail. All the prisoners celebrated the – in a way busy day, because there were processions on outside the jail. The people – And Muslim Conf, you see Pakistan had just overnight been there, so Muslim Conference people, that is pro-Pak people, were trying to have demonstrations in support of the nation of Pakistan. And the National Conference people didn’t welcome the idea – so there were clashes. And the problem was to stop the clashes, because there were in some places very fierce clashes. And you know, this entire population of supporters of Pakistan Muslim League is known as ‘bakram’ area. So they were all confined – they were not permitted to come out, they had all the demonstrations whatever they wanted in that area. So that day I remember very clearly – I mean the day next.
WHAT SORT OF CELEBRATIONS DID YOU HAVE INSIDE THE JAIL?
We had early in the morning a small gathering where we had prayers, both Hindus and Muslims at first separately, and then there was a joint prayer. And there was a prayer demanding long life for Mahatma Gandhi – because Mahatma Gandhi was to come to Srinagar and he was to tour – no, he had been there. So, that was – there were great expectations that something will be there, some very positive outcome of his visit. And the things started moving in that direction immediately after that. There were lesser restrictions on releasing detenues, on parole, and things like that – that type of thing. And then we had during the day a meeting where speakers spoke – one of them was Maulana Muhammad Sheikh Masoodi – he was a very elderly type and devoted Muslim but one of earliest nationalists who was throughout with Sheikh and was the general secretary of the National Conference. So he spoke, he presided – I spoke on behalf of the students and youth – and there was another, I remember, young person, a very good speaker though from a very backward area, Kargil. That boy – I don’t remember his name, he spoke very well – sharp. Also in the evening we had some mittai, sweets. That’s it.
DID YOU SING VANDE MATARAM OR ANY SONGS?
No. Vande Mataram was not so popular in Kashmir. The songs – usually there was a lot of Mahjoor our national poet, and one particular song … . There there was Iqbal’s song, ‘Sare Jahaan Se Accha’ (( aside about Iqbal and his comments on Treaty of Amritsar))
WINDING BACK TO THE EARLY 1940s, YOU TALKED ABOUT THAT FIRST MEETING ON THE DOONGA IN DAL LAKE. BUT HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED – HOW WERE YOU RECRUITED – HOW WERE YOU APPROACHED?
That’s a very interesting story. I in fact didn’t know a thing about Marx, Marxism. The only thing I knew about was Lenin, and that too very sketchy, in the sense I had read – we had an essay on Lenin written by Winston Churchill, and it was one part of our text. So it was so venomously written, I must say even for Churchill, I began to sympathise with the man because it was natural to hate British – so that’s how. And there were other things – so I had no idea what this Communism was all about. I had heard of Russia, but - I got into it just by chance. We wanted to do something dramatic, something impact-wise which has a big bang. So the only thing was to copy what Bhagat Singh did. We had small secret organisation, a student organisation, Anushilan group. And the thing was to prepare bombs. But how to prepare the bombs – none of us knew. So that’s how I got drawn in. A gentleman came there is a person, revolutionary from Punjab has come who would to teach us how to make bombs. That’s how I got into it. But instead of making, learning how to make bombs, he started talking about evolution first, then French Revolution – I thought that he was being very clever at this cover to sort of – that he would some day come out with this vision [?]. Nothing happened by the end … - He talked about his own personal life ((Qurban’s account of his experiences in khilafat movement as a boy, then in Afghanistan, crossed into Soviet Union)) That’s how I got into it – not me only, there were about twelve of us. Some of them are still living. One of them is Dr Nasir who is a very famous physician who was principal of the medical college in Srinagar. There were others also. But later we had some women who joined us. (10’18)
WHO WERE THE WOMEN?
One was - there was a family called Lakwara [??] family, there were about three sisters, they joined us. They were good artists, singers. Then there was one important lady who finally became the principal of the only women’s college in Srinagar – Mahmooda Ali Shah [??].
SHE WAS A COMMUNIST?
She was a communist.
AND WHEN YOU STARTED GOING TO THE MEETINGS, WERE THEY ALL ON THE DOONGA OR WAS IT JUST THE FIRST MEETING?
No, this was the first meeting. … After that we used to meet different places. There was no particular place. Mostly today in my home, second – but we had most of the meetings in Bakshi Ghulam Ahmad’s house. Bakshi Ghulam Ahmad had also by then joined the Communist Party. In fact I remember – yeah, the first conference of the communist party was held at its residence. There was his ???? at that place . And people from the centre, the central party, people who conducted it – was one Badliwallah [?] from Bombay. Then there was Dr Ashraf. K.M. Ashraf – who is no longer, dead also. But Bakshi remained for a temporary period then both Bakshi and his two brothers, one of his brothers, they maintained a distance and finally –
DID YOU HAVE A PARTY CARD?
There was never a party card for Kashmiri Communists. Because communist party did not officially encourage party formation or giving cards. But we were accepted as party members. Not all of us – only a few of us.
SO YOU WERE A CPI MEMBER?
Yes. I was CPI member till 48, 49, when I resigned. Then I went for treatment to Czechoslovakia, and saw almost all the, visited the socialist countries. I went twice, thrice to USSR, went to China. In China, I was almost detained by them. … I was there for about three months, met Mao Zedong … But I had by then got completely disillusioned. ((recollections re Czechoslovakia, and arrests of alleged CIA agents, and abuse of power by ruling parties, and awareness of Stalin’s purges)) (18’50)
WHEN YOU WERE IN KASHMIR AND THE BEDIS CAME, WHAT KIND OF MAN WAS BABA BEDI? AT THAT TIME WHEN TOU FIRST MET HIM, WHAT DID HE LOOK LIKE? WHAT WAS HIS PERSONALITY?
You know, what I liked about him is he was very, what do you call it, very funny character, very happy go lucky type, not – I never saw him brooding, serious. You could go and approach him any time and you were welcome and he had a big smile on his face. He then started – lectured on communism, he talks about the other things, other more interesting things. That’s it – and full of energy, you were always welcome. He would offer you a tea. He lived in a frugal manner – he used to take local Kashmiri churroo for his tea, and offer it to anybody else. … And so was Mrs Bedi – she had adapted completely to living in poor surroundings.
DID SHE SPEAK URDU?
Ah yeah, she spoke Urdu.
AND VERY STRIKING LOOKING
Oh yeah, she was very striking. I think I probably have a photograph somewhere. Mrs Bedi. She was a wonderful lady. Very modest and she was very well known throughout the valley in Kashmir. Every summer they would come, early visitors if you call them visitors, and Mrs Bedi used to deliver lectures on USSR, they used to be very well attended, every Saturday or Friday, weekly lectures. There were very popular lectures … strangely enough, they were held in a hall which belonged to Church Mission Society. ..
((re Sobha Singh , designed of ‘Kashmir Defends Democracy’, artist and painter – a local sardar from Srinagar, not in the party))
((another Jalali worked for maharaja’s family – Saraf got it wrong))
((talked thro names of women recognise from photo on ‘KDD’ cover – noted on cover)) (24’00)
While discussing photos, PNJ said he had been the Political Commander of the National Militia. There was initially just a Political Commander and a Military Commander, Shamji (S.A. Shah) – the decision to create ranks was taken, from documents he consulted, in March 1948 (tho this could be promotions rather than instituting of ranks)), and the process of merging the National Militia into the Indian army began at about the same time. Had a list of all the ranks warded in March 1948 – document issues in the name of G.M. Sadiq ‘in charge Jammu and Kashmir Militia’, with Sher Jung as the Colonel. No women listed – their militia unit had by then been disbanded. Mehta photo outside Palladium showed the Bal Sena, NC linked, and one of several formations under the overall control of the militia. Active 1947-48. Mehta photo of Nehru – woman is (after prompting) Begum Zainab, Sadiq’s sister. Probably taken near the airport or at Sher-e-Kashmir park. Two Militia officers in berets – one more to the left as viewed is Colonel Sher Jung, commanding officer and a non-comm revolutionary from Delhi, and on the right as viewed, Major R.M. Afzal Khan, commander of the main militia company. Inspecting women’s wing of the militia. Taken 47.
[re National Militia]
THERE WAS A POLITICAL COMMAND AND A MILITARY COMMAND?
Command – but later on since there were others who were professional soldiers who had come from army, … they wanted regular ranks, officers, so we conceded their demand. But those who were there for political reasons, like all the communists, most of them communists – though even communists wanted ranks – they decided no ranks to be accepted. … But when ranking was done, there were commanders, officers, there was adjutantn generals, like in the regular army. … That happened after the raiders were thrown out. … Initially it was all equal.
SO WHO WAS THE MILITARY COMMANDER?
At that moment – militaty commander was one Shamji … Muslim … who died recently, yes from Srinagar. He was the brother of Mahmooda. … He was not a communist – but he was sympathetic. But you know he was a devout Muslim. …
((discussion re Nehru photo – and of people featured – Sher Jung ‘sicne he was an expert in military tactics, we made him commander’, Begum Zainab ‘one of the commanders’ of the women’s militia)
Talking thro women veterans still alive: Miss Mahmooda Ahmad Ali Shah in Jammu; Mrs Deviki Dhar, a Pandit, in Delhi across the Yamuna; Mrs Usha Khanna, Pandit, in Mumbai; Mrs Krishna Zad]oo, now Misri, a Pandit, near Faridabad. Mahmooda and Krishna both onetime principals of Srinagar women’s college. Also lent me photos of coverage in the communist ‘People’s Age’, apparently Nov and Dec 1948
((PNJ talking thro copies of docs re militia and awarding of ranks, with effect from 28 March 1948 – reading out names. ‘except for two persons they were not from the communists … and they were not very important communists’))
((showing other photos – D.P. Dhar, Pushkar Zadoo))