Who remembers the Srinagar riots of 1931?

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Mahesh Kaul16 Apr 2013

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Who remembers the Srinagar riots of 1931?The communal riots that engulfed Srinagar (Kashmir) on July 13,1931 were not spontaneous but the culmination of the prolonged intrigues by the British to violate the Treaty of Amritsar, which they had signed with Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1846, the founder of the political and geographical entity called the State of Jammu and Kashmir. However, their aim was to control the Northern Frontiers of India to keep an eye on the Russian advances and ethnic tribes that inhabited these regions.

They also understood the importance of the Jammu and Kashmir in terms of guarding their rule in India.

They were also aware of the fact that Himalayas defined the civilisational and cultural moorings of the Indian Nation and the State of Jammu and Kashmir, which holds the key to the Sanskritisation of India. They wanted the control over the Himalayas not to serve them but to subvert the authority of the ruler of the State as the seeds of the Anglo-Muslim alliance were already sown to implement the policy of divide and rule. This unfortunately was made operative on ground in 1931 in Kashmir.

Shailender Singh Jamwal’s compilation of the ‘Barjor Dalal’ report of the Srinagar Riot Enquiry Committee-1931 with the writer’s prologue and epilogue is a welcome publication. The reason being that when ruling elite of the State is challenging, the accession of the State with the Indian nation, without understanding the Constitutional reality that it was the British India which was the part of the partition plan and not the princely states.

Moreover, the sovereignty lied with the ruler and not the subjects. This publication will add to the already available archival material on the State and its evolution as a political entity.

The Srinagar riot of July 13, 1931 was the desired outcome of the intrigues in which the British indulged from 1847 but Maharaj Gulab Singh was the astute statesman to swim over the unwanted tides. Even his successor, Maharaja Ranbir Singh managed to act as the statesman to outwit the British ploys to give them any foothold in the State to control its political set up. But Britishers were keeping a keen eye on the affairs of the State and during Maharaja Pratap Singh’s reign, they managed to subvert the political and administrative authority of the Maharaja.

By the time, Maharaj Hari Singh, the progressive ruler of the State ascended the throne on September 23,1925, after the demise of his uncle, Maharaja Pratap Singh-the unwanted developments had reached the critical mass.

British exploited the fact that the State had a Hindu Maharaja ruling the Muslims.

It was a God sent opportunity for them to divert the attention from the effects of the economic turmoil in the rest of India due to the economic depression in Europe as Indian economy was linked to it. They raised the bogey that the economic empowerment of the Muslims was blocked by the Hindu Maharaja to keep them in perpetual slavery.

The report examines the eye witness accounts and different shades of opinion to analyse as to what went wrong that changed the social and political dynamics of the State forever.

Maharaja had been astute enough to promulgate the hereditary State subject definition. This legal enactment was introduced to checkmate the intrusion of the Britishers to interfere in the State and restricting their entry. The former Maharaja was also well aware of the their mischief to subvert the political stability of the State as it was during his time in 1924 that Silk factory workers in Srinagar raised the banner of revolt.

Maharaja Hari Singh was not the favourite of the British rulers as he was well aware of the deployments’ world over. He had made his mind clear about his intentions about the role the princely states should play to uphold the Indian nation. This did not go down well with imperialist British.

The report extensively discusses that how British instigated the Muslim populace of Punjab and therefore, All India Kashmir Muslim Conference came into existence in 1928. It members had nothing to do with Kashmir but the element of pan-Islamism was instigated. Though the Conference started pleading the case for the Muslim education in the State but “it’s real object was to secure for the Muslims of British India, especially of the Punjab, the right to be appointed in the State services so long, at least as the Muslims of the State remained unqualified.”

Both the provinces of the State were kept under boil by the British. In Jammu, Youngmen’s Muslim Association was set up, it acted on the lines of Muslim Reading Room party of Fateh Kadal, Srinagar. The brain behind the disruptive activities of these formations was Wakefield, the officer of the political department of the Government of British India.

The visit of the Muslim Association to Kashmir and interaction with the Reading Room Party was made to infuse a sense of coherence to instigate bigger trouble for the Maharaja in 1931.

The trial of Abdul Qadir, a non-state subject cook of the British officer and his seditious speech that set the communal frenzy in motion in Srinagar has been clearly discussed in the book.

One thing that makes this publication important is that it exposes the denial of communal ruling elite regarding the atrocities on minorities of Kashmir that grabbed the power in 1947 by making the Maharaja abdicate the State under pressure from V P Menon under the advice of Vallabhai Patel.

The communal riots have been well documented in this report and help to see the present State of political turmoil in perspective. Shailender Singh Jamwal has aptly summed up the state of Hindu minorities in Jammu and Kashmir on July 13, 1931 who observe this day as the black day. He writes,”The people of Kashmir and their political organisations barring Kashmiri Pandits observe this day as martyr’s Day because Dogra troops resorted to firing in Kashmir in which ten people lost their lives. While many in Jammu, including Kashmiri Pandits observe this day as a Black Day as their business establishments in Kashmir were plundered by the members of the majority community; moreover, their dignity,honour and lives were endangered. Since then, both the major communities of the State have been living a poles apart. This event has divided the people of the State on religious, regional and ideological basis and does not allow them to sink their differences.”

The report in the form of a book, i.e. ‘Barjor Dalal’s report of the Srinagar Riot Enquiry Committee-1931′ is a must read for the scholars and the  policymakers, so that the redressal of the problems of the people of the State is made possible keeping in view the long-term benefits of the Indian Nation and its territorial integrity.

Publisher M/S Saksham Books International,Jammu has done a good job in presenting the material in readable form. Quality is good but a few printing errors need to be rectified in the next edition that have crept in.

(c) NiTi Digital. Reproduction and/or reposting of this content is strictly prohibited under copyright laws.

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  • Anil Sharma

    The article exposes the Muslim communalism in jammu and Kashmir that has reduced the minorities especially Hindus to second class citizens there.

  • Seema Raina

    insightful and revealing,keep it up niticentral

  • Srikant Desai

    The review has thrown light on the unknown side of the Muslim communalisn in Kashmir.This article should open the eyes of the central governmnet which terms Muslim communalism as secularism in j and K.The important thing about this article is that it has taken the discourse in right direction and taken the wind out of the sails of the kashmiri Muslim separatists and communalists.Mahesh Kaul needs to be applauded

  • Ranjan Gupta

    informative article for understanding the dynamics of the politics of Jammu and Kashmir

  • NIharika Slathia

    the review article is a must read for those who are crying over the roof tops about the human rihgts of the kashmiri separatists and realise that the non muslim minorities including Kashmiri pandits and dogras are living as hostages of the kashmiri muslim communal politics not from 1947 but atleast from 1931 and no heed has been paid to their human rights violation.Indian secular polity has failed to protect the hindu minorities in jammu and kashmir.Mahesh Kaul has given has explined the root cause of the kashmir issue and that is the kashmiri muslim communalism.

  • Rajalakshmi

    The wily British have not given up calling the shots within India till date.

    What is congress party but a front to carry out the same divide & rule.
    Our curriculum , jurisprudence , unhealthy spread of churchianity- nothing is truly reflective of HINDUS’ Vedic Ethos.

    In the recent India Business Report aired on BBC they equated Sri.Narendra Modi with rahul baba outrageously claiming both have nothing much to offer on “specifics”.

    India under BJP should strengthen its ties with ISRAEL & CHINA. Than trusting UK. We should not get swayed by sops like David Cameroon’s visit or their handshakes with Narendra Modi.

    Nobody talks about class consciousness among the British.And various kinds of subtle discriminations existing in western countries. But for the umpteenth time BBC & western countries would focus on “casteism & dalitism” among Indians. NDTV , CNN IBN etc exist only their mouthpieces.

    This is the reason I insist we should get smarter deporting Meira Kumar’s Jagjivan Ram’s daughter , Spectrum Raja & many such allegedly oppressed “dalits” & various “castes” to UK , USA, Portugal , Spain , Vatican asking them to uplift & empower them as ministers in their own respective countries.

    Thus we can prevent them from occupying our land , resources & exploiting them further. We also prevent them from flying to India carrying vaccines & cartons of Bibles. Once our burden is lightened the ubiquitous churches in OUR HINDUS’ Bharath can be demolished to do extensive cultivation , afforestation & precious pasture land for cows’ grazing. Dairy farming is very important for us as much as agriculture & horticulture to attain self sufficiency. Put a decisive end to cow slaughter & export of beef. No need to wait for consensus & worry about food preferences of bangladeshis to various non vegetarians of this world. That is not HINDUS’
    burden. This one very crucial step among many allied ones would ensure health does not become a casualty among us Indians making us grovel before the same selfish manipulative british & western countries as hopeless suckers.

    Deve Gowdas , Bharadwaj the governor of Karnataka, Anand Sharmas & several congressis including sonia gandhi dynasty , crypto christians like samuel rajasekara reddys etc – ALL should be MADE to QUIT Bharath for UK. As they are all anti VEDIC . And pro cow slaughter. DMK also quits as they are anti Ram & pro sethusamudram blah blah.

    Let UK carry their burden. They DO NOT BELONG in HINDUS’ Bharath.

  • Manik Chawla

    well written article bringing to the fore the communal faultlines in jammu and kashmir.Indian governement needs to understand that jammu and Kashmir is a communal problem .Thus Hindu minorities need to empowered and protected in jammu and kashmir constitutionally and legally .Otherwise the day is not far when the left out Hindus and exiled kashmiri pandits will be a thing of the past.

  • mangesh

    It appears BJP has brought Narendra Modi to the front a bit too early and invited punches from their own ally in addition to those expected from congressmen and communists.
    With allies like Nitesh Kumar who needs enemies. He and Congressmen appear to be in sync on this matter against BJP.
    Modi should have been brought to Delhi around Dassera 2013 like Lord Ram returning to Ayodhya.
    With no one to speak about the first cause issues like Kashmir valley killings and the eventual fleeing of Kashmiri Hindus from their own homeland or about the karsevaks and young mothers with their children charred to death at Godhra—— and the contant reminder for the past few days of the 2002 riots and muslim deaths in Gujarat, could have precipitated the recent bomb blasts in Bangalore.
    A suggestion or strategy to come out of this very unfortunate predicament created by unworthy allies like Nitesh Kumar,is as follows:
    1. BJP should name an alternative PM candidate- Say Sushmaji (support cause of women in high places), or any one other suitable candidate. Unfortunate as it is, this may be necessary as Nitesh Kumar and Congress have been using our sensationalist media every day in their tirade against Modi and sowing seeds of doubts in minds of people.
    2.This will elate Nitesh Kumar and he will think of it as his victory.. 3. Next they should punish and dump him for his betrayal.
    4. If victory comes to BJP then perhaps Modi could be brought in as PM for the latter half of the term.
    Just some strategic thinking, friends.

  • Mohit Sambyal

    Book review is informative and worth introspection if minorities in Jammu and Kashmir are to be saved from the Kashmiri Muslim communalism.

  • Ankita Kulkarni

    really sad to learn that Hindu minorities are being persecuted in Kashmir for so long.Will the Indian government wake up.

  • Shreya Mehta

    The need is to understand the wrong policies of the central government that have reduced the Hindu minorities in J and K as dhimmis to appease the Muslim separatists and term muslim commnalism as secularism.the sooner this policy of subjecting the Hindu minorities in jammu and kashmir to the servitude of muslim communalism is changed,the better for the dignity of all nationalists in J andk.

  • Roshan Lal Dhar

    Good article written with conviction and foresight. Kashmiri Muslim communal ism exposed

  • Vikramjeet Bhalwal

    those who talk about Gujarat riots should be asked what they have to say about the crimes committed against kashmiri panditsin jammu and kashmir in 1931 and 1990? well done ,Mahesh Kaul for bringing about the truth of Hindu persecution in J and K and its genesis

  • Surinder Chawla

    really shocking to note that the plight of Kashmiri pandits is something which started not in 1990 but it has roots in 1931 riots.What a shame that the successive govts have lived in denial.Indians need to be extend their help to kashmiri pandits in totality.

  • Ruhi Kapoor

    it is a matter of shame that the secular politicians of India are silent on the plight of the Hindu minorities of J and K whether Dogras or kashmiri Pandits but keep on raising the bogey of Gujarat riots of 2002.Artilce by Mahesh Kaul should act as opinion maker to save the nationalist minorities in J and K.

  • Ishan Pandita

    Timely and informative article to understand the persecution of Hindu minorities in J and k besides the reality of Kashmiri Muslim communalism has been exposed.

  • Gurdev Singh

    kashmiri Muslim communalism has hampered the flow of seculaism in jammu and kashmir.The writer has given truthful background of the kashmiri muslim communalism and persecution of minorities in J and k.

  • Dr. Neeru Kharoo

    Well written n very informative.

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