Justine Hardy – Healing Kashmir

Justine Hardy—the founder of Healing Kashmir, a mental health project in the divided Kashmir region—highlights the importance of addressing the mental health of people in conflict-ravaged areas. “How can you build a leadership out of people who cannot sleep at night?” she asks. Sustainable positive change must come from within, from a people who can think with clarity and take responsibility for their actions. Kashmiris developed what Justine describes as a “pathology of victimhood;” they think that nothing is their fault. The youth are particularly damaged, having never known a peaceful existence. One psychologist estimated that 90% of the population suffers mental damage. Hardy clearly illustrates that in order to build a healthy future for Kashmir, the problem of mental health cannot be ignored.

Perpetrators – Stories of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir

PRESS NOTE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Srinagar, December 06, 2012

INTERNATIONAL PEOPLES’ TRIBUNAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND JUSTICE IN INDIAN-ADMINISTERED KASHMIR [IPTK] / ASSOCIATION OF PARENTS OF DISAPPEARED PERSONS [APDP]

 

 

Press Release:

announce the release of: alleged Perpetrators – Stories of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir at a press conference on Thursday, December 06, 2012, in Srinagar, Kashmir [Report available at: http://www.kashmirprocess.org].

alleged Perpetrators a report by IPTK/APDP examines 214 cases of human rights violations and for the first time, the role of 500 alleged perpetrators in these crimes.

This report, prepared over two years using information gleaned mostly from official State documents in addition to witness testimonies, in cases available with IPTK/APDP, portrays the state of impunity prevalent in Jammu and Kashmir. Where identities of individual perpetrators of crimes are known it seeks a process of accountability for institutional criminality. The State documents used range from police records, judicial and quasi-judicial records and Government documents. IPTK/APDP using the Right to Information legislations sought information on First Information Reports, High Court petition numbers and other documentation.

Out of 214 cases a list emerges of 500 individual perpetrators, which include 235 army personnel, 123 paramilitary personnel, 111 Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel and 31 Government backed militants/associates. Among the alleged perpetrators are two Major Generals and three Brigadiers of the Indian Army, besides nine Colonels, three Lieutenant Colonels, 78 Majors and 25 Captains. Add to this, 37 senior officials of the federal Paramilitary forces, a recently retired Director General of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, as well as a serving Inspector General. The official designations of the alleged perpetrators and the geographical spread of the crimes committed against the people of Jammu and Kashmir indicate a decisive will of the Indian State, carried out by its functionaries as part of a policy. The concept of individual criminal responsibility is well established under international criminal law. From Nuremberg to the United Nations ad hoc tribunals – like the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia – to the most recent, the International Criminal Court [ICC], the focus of international law has gradually moved from laying responsibility for crimes from the general – the State – to the individual – the perpetrator.

Cases presented in this report reveal that there is a policy not to genuinely investigate or prosecute the armed forces for human rights violations. There is an occasional willingness to order compensatory relief, but not to bring the perpetrators to justice. On the contrary, alleged perpetrators of crimes are awarded, rewarded and promoted by the State.

The role of the judiciary in a conflict zone is a vital and, often, the only hope available for ensuring justice. It must serve as an effective check on the executive and be vigilant in ensuring that human rights of individuals are not violated. Despite the occasional passing of strong orders, this report contains numerous examples of the High Court effectively condoning the continuation of violations. The general experience in Jammu and Kashmir has been that judicial and quasi-judicial authorities such as the State Human Rights Commission [SHRC] have allowed themselves to be conscious of the power and will of the executive, thereby rendering themselves subservient to the State. The impunity fostered by the judicial processes have been compounded by the existence of draconian laws such as the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 [AFSPA].

Based on the information before it, IPTK/APDP cannot conclusively pronounce on the guilt of any of the alleged perpetrators, but it is clear that enough evidence exists to warrant further investigations and prosecutions. However, in the absence of any institutional or political will to take the evidence to its natural conclusion – a trial where the crime and the guilt of a perpetrator can be proven beyond reasonable doubt – the Indian State stands indicted.

The Executive Summary of the report is appended below and the full copy of report is attached.

Queries may be directed to:
Khurram Parvez
E-mail: kparvez@kashmirprocess.org

===

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: 
ALLEGED PERPETRATORS – STORIES OF IMPUNITY IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR

This report, prepared over two years using information gleaned mostly from official State documents, portrays the state of impunity prevalent in Jammu and Kashmir. Where identities of individual perpetrators of crimes are known it seeks a process of accountability for institutional criminality.

In the highly militarized space of Jammu and Kashmir, it reveals an entrenched culture of impunity. Cases of human rights violations committed by members of various State forces are analyzed within the context of an occupation, an armed conflict, and a state of structural impunity. These have evolved within State institutions, including the armed forces, and traverse the application and interpretations of special laws, and finally the judicial system itself.

The defining feature of human rights violations here is that in the name of countering militant violence the Indian State authorizes armed forces to carry out every kind of operation, often without adherence to laws and norms. In a majority of cases crimes are not noted or investigated at all. Therefore, any listing or analysis of cases in this report would inevitably be an incomplete one.

However, even the rudimentary statistics contained in it reveal an appalling picture. Out of 214 cases a list emerges of 500 individual perpetrators, which include 235 army personnel, 123 paramilitary personnel, 111 Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel and 31 Government backed militants/associates. The designations of some of these alleged perpetrators points to a deep institutional involvement of the Indian State in the crimes. Among the alleged perpetrators are two Major Generals and three Brigadiers of the Indian Army, besides nine Colonels, three Lieutenant Colonels, 78 Majors and 25 Captains. Add to this, 37 senior officials of the federal Paramilitary forces, a recently retired Director General of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, as well as a serving Inspector General.

This report also seeks to turn the focus on identities of alleged perpetrators of crime and atrocity. Therefore, rather than a general reference to, for example, the Rashtriya Rifles, names and ranks of officers of this counter-insurgency force are mentioned. This stems from the understanding that despite a culture of systemic impunity that exonerates perpetrators, it is individuals who commit violations, and they must first and foremost bear responsibility for their acts. By naming names the report seeks to remove the veil of anonymity and secrecy that has sustained impunity. Only when the specificity of each act of violation is uncovered can institutions be stopped from providing the violators a cover of impunity.

The institutional culture of moral, political and juridical impunity has resulted in enforced and involuntary disappearance of an estimated 8000 persons [as on Nov 2012], besides more than 70,000 deaths, and disclosures of more than 6000 unknown, unmarked and mass graves. The last 22 years have also seen regular extra-judicial killings punctuated by massacres. The Gow Kadal [Srinagar] massacre of around 50 persons on 21 January 1990 and other mass killings discussed in this report are symbolic reminders of the persistent human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.

The concept of individual criminal responsibility is well established under international criminal law. From Nuremberg to the United Nations ad hoc tribunals – like the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia – to the most recent, the International Criminal Court [ICC], the focus of international law has gradually moved from laying responsibility for crimes from the general – the State – to the individual – the perpetrator.

This is not to suggest that the institutions and the State bear no responsibility: in fact, it is clear that it is the Indian State that fosters a climate of impunity in Jammu and Kashmir. As principles of command responsibility have been elaborated and evolved under international criminal law, along with other principles of individual criminal responsibility, such as Joint Criminal Enterprise, it is clear that individual perpetrators of crimes own only a certain part of the final responsibility. This is particularly true in case of organized structures such as the armed forces, where senior officers [and often, the government] also bear responsibility.

But, by focusing on individuals, the anonymity that protects the perpetrators of actual crimes can be eroded. By specifically naming alleged perpetrators, institutional cover is no longer allowed to shield them, thereby allowing for greater transparency and accountability. To facilitate justice, understanding of the specific is critical in order to allow for a greater understanding of the general.

Cases presented in this report reveal that there is an overwhelming reluctance to genuinely investigate or prosecute the armed forces for human rights violations. There is an occasional willingness to order compensatory relief, but not to bring the perpetrators to justice. Without adequate prosecution, and fixing of individual criminal responsibility, monetary compensation is at best a weak palliative measure, and at worst a bribe to buy the silence of the victims.

The role of the judiciary in a conflict zone is a vital and, often, only hope available for ensuring justice. It must serve as an effective check on the executive and be vigilant in ensuring that human rights of individuals are not violated. Despite the occasional passing of strong orders, this report contains numerous examples of the High Court effectively condoning the continuation of violations. The general experience in Jammu and Kashmir has been that the judiciary has allowed itself to be conscious of the power and will of the executive, thereby rendering itself subservient to the State.

Domestic processes of justice also do not appear willing to consider violations within this conflict in the light of relevant international humanitarian law i.e. the Geneva Conventions (1949), the Additional Protocols (1977), or international criminal law, as India has not yet legislated on crimes of Genocide, Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes. Domestic Indian law does not even criminalize “Enforced Disappearance” or “Torture”, which means that it is unable to prosecute perpetrators of such crimes, thus depriving the people of appropriate instruments to force prosecution.

Unwillingness of the Indian State to address human rights issues in Jammu and Kashmir has been most recently displayed by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir Home Department submission to the State Human Rights Commission [on 13 August 2012] about action taken on its recommendations of 19 October 2011 regarding unmarked and mass graves in three districts of North Kashmir. This submission exhibits an unwillingness to correctly appreciate the concerns of its own State institution, the SHRC, and a purported inability to take any action. For example, on the question of conducting Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid [DNA] tests on the bodies interred in the graves, it is stated that with “only 15/16 recognized labs in the Government as well as in the Private Sector, in the entire country” a comprehensive process cannot be undertaken. Instead, a ludicrous and unique solution is put forward: a blood relation of the victim “should be in a position to indicate with fair amount of certainty the exact location of the graveyard and the grave which is now sought to be re-opened”. This unwillingness of the Indian State to critique itself therefore requires focused attention from the international community.

In the context of the Kashmir conflict the IPTK does not consider this report to be a definitive or exhaustive list of alleged perpetrators. It merely seeks to begin a process of accountability. The cases chosen are those where the IPTK has received information. In a State where institutions – such as the police – have proven ineffective, a majority of the violations have in fact not been investigated. Therefore, the names of alleged perpetrators in a majority of cases are officially unknown, though certainly part of living public memory.

This report does not attempt to travel through the chain of command to establish the full list of all possible perpetrators who could be held responsible for specific crimes. Further investigations would be necessary to understand more comprehensively the role of superior authorities involved in these crimes.

What is striking is that the documents in possession of the State itself indict the armed forces and the police by providing reasonable, strong and convincing evidence on the role of the alleged perpetrators in specific crimes.

The IPTK does not however believe that the entirety of the crime, including the role of alleged perpetrators, is captured in any one of the specific cases analyzed. Drawing from principles of Command Responsibility and Joint Criminal Enterprise under international criminal law, it is clear that only further non-partisan investigations would bring to light the entirety of criminality and culpability for each of the crimes documented in this report.

Despite available documents that indict the alleged perpetrators, the response of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, Government of Jammu and Kashmir and the Indian State has been woefully inadequate. From denial of sanction for prosecuting members of armed forces under the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 [AFSPA] to limited prosecutions of members of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and civilian associates of the armed forces, the Indian State and its functionaries appear to have played a direct role in the commission of crimes and subsequent cover ups.

The list of alleged perpetrators, their ranks, units and area of operations strongly suggest that the crimes listed within this report occurred across Jammu and Kashmir, across various armed forces and the police, and at various levels of the hierarchy of each of these government forces.

The cases discussed in this report go contrary to the Indian State narrative of human rights violations as mere “aberrations”. Crimes in Jammu and Kashmir have not been committed despite the Indian State but because of it. The structures of the Indian State, including the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, must be accused of not just standing by while human rights violations have taken place, but carry a far higher culpability. They must be accused of willfully putting in place structures specifically meant to carry out these crimes.

For reasons attributable more to the IPTK and less to the all pervading criminality in the region, districts such as Baramulla, Kupwara and Srinagar receive more focused attention in this report, although the cases are from all over Jammu and Kashmir. The official designations of the alleged perpetrators and the geographical spread of the crimes committed against the people of Jammu and Kashmir indicate a decisive will of the Indian State, carried out by its functionaries as part of a design.

Numerous cases in this report reveal that volumes of evidence exist of crimes committed by specific perpetrators, assisted by a system where impunity is available right from the commission of the crime to the ultimate cover up.

Based on the information before it, the IPTK cannot conclusively pronounce on the guilt of any of the alleged perpetrators, but it is clear that enough evidence exists to warrant further action. However, in the absence of any institutional or political will to take the evidence to its natural conclusion – a trial where the crime and the guilt of a perpetrator can be proven beyond reasonable doubt – the Indian State stands indicted.

You know you are a Kashmiri when…


…When you have worn a ‘pheran’

…When weddings last a week

…When you are used to seeing stray cows on the streets

…When your hands are always stained with RUS

…When you drink tea that is pink and has salt instead of sugar

…When you have squished 20 people into a four seater car or a Maruti

…When you have to PICK a team to support in cricket

…When you have stayed or wanted to stay in a house boat

…When you all you hear your dad talk about is Indian politics

…When you go to the mosque in the winters to sit at the hamaam

…When you have kept waz natheen in the polythene bag

…When your Mother says “tala hamsaiyan wich power tsa gamut” during power cuts

…When your grandmother says “Aaz Kachim Eid Tsa” many weeks after Eid.

…When you sit to scare the dog away

…When you wait for hours at the Barber’s Shop

…When you have said “it’s complicated” when someone asked you where you were
from

…When you have bought “Tanokh Phutij” for the Kashmiri Workers

…When you have been asked by your Grandfather to empty and fill the water in the Jajeer (Hukkah)

…When you have seen a Pandit wearing a Kan Weaj (A Type of Earring)

…When you always say Kashmir is the Paradise on earth to your foreigner friend.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his Jamia Masjid Speech

Quiad-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah attended the annual session of the Muslim Conference in the Jamia Masjid, Srinagar held on the Saturday 17th June, 1944. The president of this historical session was Chaudhary Ghulam Abbas Khan. It is said that roads leading to Jamia Masjid were filled with people. It is estimated that hundreds and thousands of Kashmiri Muslims came to hear the Voice of Quiad-e-Azam reverberate through the walls of the Jamia Masjid.


The Quaid rose to speak from the Jamia at 10 in the night. The audience jubilated and excited to see Quiad speak. Caps and were turbans flying in air. It is learnt that Sheikh Abdullah, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad and Maulana Saeed were watching the proceedings from the third floor of a Party loyalist in the Vicinity; it took 15 minutes for Jinnah to begin his speech amidst the huge sloganeering and cheering. Below is the English translation of the eloquent speech in Urdu:-

“Mr. President, brothers in Islam. I have no words to thank you for the honour accorded to me. I see that about one lakh (100,000) are present in this meeting and among them are people from all sections, young and old, traders, labourers and even women. Gentlemen, the condition of Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir has deteriorated so much that tears come in my eyes. From every angle, theirs is a sad plight.

But when I look at this public meeting, I feel happy and confident that Muslims have now awakened and are united under the flag of the Muslim conference. You have been trying since 1931 and it is because of these efforts that Muslims of all classes and schools of thought are present her today. Don’t think that, it by itself is enough; you have to work hard. You know that I have been staying here since a month and during this period; men of every school of thought came to me. Whoever wished to see me, I met him readily and had discussions with him. From them, I have also heard of your problems, oppression and hardships. I have also found that amongst those who met me 99% supported MC. Mr President I have come to this conclusion after meeting the people here and now it is your duty to care of them and train them properly.

Of course, some Muslims who came to see me were of the view that Muslims should join the NC. They gave certain arguments in support of their view which I heard and considered. You know that I have not come here for the purpose of strengthen someone and weakening someone else. I have also said that your problems are different from the problems of British India but just as you have treated me as a Mussalman. It is my duty as a Muslim to advise you correctly as to which course would be proper and ensure your success.

So far as the NC is concerned, I do not know how it can succeed in its aim. Consequently, I asked their supporters as to how much time has elapsed since it were brought into being and as to whether Hindus, Sikhs and others had joined it. I told them that if in a long period of six years, Hindus and Sikhs have as a whole kept aloof from The NC, who else remains there except Muslims! I was then told that even if Hindus and Sikhs are not there, the doors should remain open for them. I told them that if after remaining open for six years, it has served no purpose, what was the necessity of keeping it open again? In my view it was a mistake, the result of which would be that Muslims would be divided into two camps which would bring about tension between them.

I did my best to make them understand the logic of the argument but I was told that we want to tell the world that there was no communalism in the state and behind the curtain of nationalism we will pursue the programme of the MC and that they were supporters of Pakistan. I say that the I.N.C had adopted the same method in British India. It claimed to represent all Indians and did a lot of false propaganda all over the world. This however, is not a fact as Congress was in reality a Hindu Organisation. He result was that slowly the few Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and the Untouchables who had joined it separated themselves. Whenever the question of the rights of these backward minorities came before the congress, the Hindu majority rejected it for forty years, Congress continued with its deceptive policies. Do you also want to practise this deception? When congress deception could not succeed, how can yours? Therefore, I will advise you in the light of these facts that the conditions prevalent in the State are not different from obtaining those in British India. Therefore you will also face difficulties by adopting this course of action and will never be able to secure the confidence of Hindus and Sikhs. I would go even to the extent of saying that if in this State you adopt the policy and deception practised by the congress, it is you who will suffer in the long run…Please do not think that we bear any enmity towards Hindus and Sikhs or that we do not respect their religion, culture or philosophy. We only want Justice. We tell every nation to organise itself separately so that all of us would join our heads together to arrive at some honourable solution. There is no other way which can lead us to our ultimate goal. I, therefore, advise you that you should declare very clearly and openly that you are Muslims and that you represent all. We are always ready for an honourable agreement while maintaning our separate entity.

Gentlemen, some weeks ago, a Hindu conference was held here. The speech by Kanwar Chand, Kiran Sharda showed clearly that Hindus and Sikhs do not, as claimed demand responsible government. If they really want such a Government, it would be a matter of happiness and I would advise an agreement with them you may set up such government. You must remember that you will have to work very hard to achieve that and you will have to undergo sacrifices. Responsible government is not a cake which the Maharaja will present to you so that you may eat it. You must first organise your nation; you have to improve the educational, economic and social condition of Muslims. The condition obtaining now is that a poor labourer after working for a full month is not able to earn more than rupees 12, or six annas a day. You have to first attend to these things. Almighty has given you everything. Kashmir, which is known as a paradise, the gem in the ring as the world is, and an unparalled country, what such a country does not possess? But what you have you done? Oh Muslims! Awake, stand up and work hard and bring life to this dead nation. Improve your condition in every sphere of life. There is only one way to do it and that is unity, solidarity, a single flag, a single platform and an ideal. If you are able to achieve them, you must succeed.

Mr. President, there is everything in your hands. As soon as you discover yourself, I am sure the Maharaja will gladly grant you responsible government. Times are changing fast. The earth is squeezing. It is only an effort that is needed on your part. If you do that, other nations will treat you with respect. The position of British India is different and that of the state is also different. Even then I assure you that despite the Muslim League policy of non-interventional the affairs of Indian States, the services and support of myself and the Muslim league at your service. In British India our goal is Pakistan which we shall achieve. We are thankful for the support extended in the matter. Although we are determined to achieve our goal by sheer dint of our strength, still I assure you that the Moral sympathies of the entire Muslims World are with us. Egypt, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and the Muslims of the Arab Nations Support the creation Pakistan.

Mr. President, we also pray that God may give you success in the achievement of your goal. You also kindly pray for our success. I am sure that you are treading on the right path. The destination is before you all that is needed is unity, a common platform and a common flag; also needed is an honest and sincere spirit of service. I have no doubt that you will succeed.”

The speech of this great leader is visionary. It is not only historical but relevant even today. The People and the leaders of Kashmir should and must use this priceless advice of the Quiad-e-Azam.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Kashmir 1944

On 10th of May 1944 Muhammad Ali Jinnah left for Srinagar accompanied by Chaudhary Ghulam Abbas Khan, Mirwaiz Yousuf Shah (Muslim Conference), Mirza Afzal Beg and Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad (National Conference). The grandeur of the reception and the thickness of the crowds began slowly and gradually increasing at the fleet of the cars carrying the great leader slowly wended its way towards Srinagar. At Khanabal, he made a brief halt for lunch. Mirwaiz Yousuf Sahab and Bakshi Ghulam Ahmad-inveterate foes since 1931, sat together, for the first time, in the over-powering presence of the Quaid. It was a miracle, the depth and unimaginability of which only Kashmiris can appreciate. Beyond Qazigund, the throngs multiplied and the pageantry of colour and beauty was a spectacle to be cherished by generations of those who had the glory of participation and the pride to say: I SAW HIM. Bare footed and tattered-clothed, the great majority of the welcoming had trekked on foot, many a hill just to catch a glimpse of the Man. Clad in newly-washed clothes as on Enid, the pheran and the red qasbah wearing Kashmiri women, in their thousands had come out on the roads and singing songs of welcome in the Kashmiri Folk. (Koshur Wanvun). While the frail but charismatic figure of the leader passed through the rows, thousands of men and women were unable to control their hearts when the very sight of the Quaid stirred up deep and shackled emotions resulting in tears trickling down their eyes. Many actually wept under the sheer weight of joy. Mounds of flowers were showered. The rush of people was such that it took eleven hours to cover a distance of 80 miles which usually took 2 hours. Many Kashmiris even touched the car as a good omen (Tobruk)

On reaching Srinagar in the even he described the reception as ROYAL WELCOME (Jinnah chose his words extremely careful). The only time he had ever said such of public rallies he was a guest of!

The Aligarh Old Boys Association (Which Comprised of the Alumni of Aligarh University from Kashmir) held a reception in Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s honour at the Amar Singh Club, Srinagar. It was attended by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Mirza Afzal Beg, Khwaja Ghulam Muhammad Sadiq, Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Karra, Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Hamdani, Yousuf Buchh, Pandit Madhusudhan Kak, Shiv Narain Fotedar, Pandit A.N Raina, Pandit G.A Lal and J.N Chakku, all of the Aligarh Passouts.

There was an Exchange of Q&A between the Quaid and Mr. Hamdani (the Questions must have been already worked out by National Conference Leaders which was a norm due to the Iron Discipline of the party). The Conversation:

Mr. Hamdani: Sir, would the overwhelming Hindu majority in the subcontinent allow the establishment of Pakistan?

Quaid-e-Azam: If Mr. De Valera could succeed in separating Ireland, why can’t ten crore Muslims succeed in carving out a Country of their own?

Mr. Hamdani: Sir, If Pakistan comes into being, would it not be economically backward?

Quaid-e-Azam: (dismissing the apprehension with an emphatic NO) Nevertheless, it is better to live in a hut in Pakistan with a sense of security than to live in a bungalow in India under the Shadow of Insecurity.

Hamdani: (emphasising the Muslim-majority character of the Jammu and Kashmir State which meant their power in any democratic set up, Hamdani Asks) Sir in so far as the National Conference and the Muslim Conference are concerned, which of them can better serve the interests of the State Muslims.

Quiad-e-Azam: (Grins and gives a little smile) apparently the National Conference but can you tell how many Hindus and Sikhs are there in the National Conference?

There was no answer but someone from amongst the audience shouted: “Pandit Kashyap Bandu”: someone else added,”Sardar Budh Singh”. There was spontaneous laughter as the embarrassment of Nationalists couldn’t be concealed:

Quaid-e-Azam: (commenting) Had the Hindus and Sikhs made a common cause with you and joined the National Conference, The Maharaja could not resist your demand for responsible Government even for 7 days”

In Other function held at the Same Amar Singh Club held in honour of the Quaid-e-Azam and arranged by Khwaja Ghulam Ahmed Jeweller, leaders of all the minorities were also present. After tea, Quaid-e-Azam while leaving passed from near the Pundit guests. Pandit Shiv Narain Fotedar, (who later became a member of Indian Parliament, said tauntingly “I am the leader of the minorities but I am not the Jinnah of Kashmir”.

Without pausing for a second, forth came the retort:
I wish you good luck.

(reference: Yousuf Saraf “Kashmiris Fight For Freedom)

Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Kashmir 1936

Muhammad Ali Jinnah had arrived in Kashmir during the summer of 1936 (he had made a few visits before) . He must have been happy seeing the change of the political system and the power of Kashmiris movement for Freedom from the Tyranny of the Dogras. As 1931 had been a turning point in the Self belief and Self Determination of the oppressed and subjugated Kashmiris.

There is this legendary case which is still fresh in the old folk of Kashmiris. Many elderly persons talk on the parapets of Kashmir about how Jinnah with his charm and charisma single handedly changed the verdict without even studying the case. The Case was of Hanifa Begum versus the State.

One Mirza Ali, Sub Inspector, and his wife Hanifa Begum were booked under Section 494 Penal Code. He was accused of marrying an already married woman. Jinnah was hesitant to take up the case because he was on holidays but the accused (Mirza Ali) persuaded the Quaid by narrating his contribution to the Freedom Struggle and him being a Staunch Loyalist of Muslim League. It is said that Mirza Ali was instrumental in destroying the vital Sanghram Bridge in order to obstruct the movement of Dogra Soldiers. Quaid Agreed to take up the case but refused to take any Fee. Quaid told him to give him the Case-Papers one day advance of the date fixed for prosecution. As Quaid wanted to spend his holidays and Mirza Ali was puzzled and dumbfounded. It is obvious that Quaid-e-Azam had solved the case the moment he heard the facts about it.

Hanifa’s First Husband had been killed in a police firing in 1931. She had them been married to one Abdul Kabir and subsequently to Mirza Ali. Kabir had filed a complaint after a lapse of three tears. As Islam provides a waiting period of Four Months and ten days or 130 days for a widow to remarry this is known as “Iddat”. Kabir’s defense had plead that the complainant’s marriage had taken place during Iddat and was therefore invalid had been rejected by the sub courts. The trial court had acquitted Mirza Ali for want of knowledge but Convicted Hanifa Begum. It appeared on facts that it was a lost case for Hanifa. But there was huge excitement amongst the people especially in the legal circles as to why Jinnah a Great Barrister taken up such a hopeless and lost case, that too without charging a penny.

The Court was flooded with people from every section. Students skipped classes, Government Employees took up leave, and Shop keepers closed their shops just to know how Jinnah would create a Miracle. Quaid-e-Azam came without any books, a very unusual sight in those days. Hearts sunk and pulse shot up to find him without any case-law. His address was brief and specific. He surprised everyone when he by conceding for the purpose of argument that the relevant date advanced by the prosecution was correct. People were shocked and their heart beats were pumping hard. The court had a gloomy silence. They exchanged bewildered looks, but what he said next made everyone awestruck. The Audience gave a huge roar when Jinnah argued that the period of four months and ten days can be counted in months, only when death occurs on the IST of the lunar month but otherwise it had to be counted as 130 days. By the latter calculation the marriage of the lady with the complainant (Abdul Kabir) was within “Iddat” and hence not a valid one.

What actually happened in the court during arguments is not known but is remembered as a legend that after the Quaid-e-Azam said that counting of months applied only when death takes place on the appearance of the crescent moon and in all the other cases, it was to be 130 days, the Chief Justice asked:

“Mr. Jinnah is there any authority?”

Jinnah: “My lord, I am the authority”,

Jinnah won the case and the rest is History!

© The Kashmirian.