July 31, 1988: The day ‘armed struggle’ began

It was on July 31 1988, twenty fivers ago that armed struggle against ‘Indian rule’ started in Jammu and Kashmir. The group of four militant leaders from Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front better known as ‘Hajy Group’ reportedly planted two bombs, one at Golf Course, and another at Telegraph Office here to send a ‘firm and clear message to the government of India that Kashmiri youth are ready to face them’.


“These bombs were planted with an intention to give loud and clear message to government of India that Kashmiri youth are ready to face them. These bombs were not planted to harm anyone. These blasts jolted the establishment and attracted attention of international community towards the long-pending issue,” JKLF leader Javid Ahmed Mir said.


‘Hajy’ regarded as the first group to start armed struggle in Kashmir comprised of Ishfaq Majeed Wani, Shiekh Abdul Hamid, Mohammad Yasin Malik and Javid Ahmed Mir. All the four persons had set up ‘Tallah Party in 1980 and later on they founded Islamic Students League in 1984 which gradually turned into Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front.


Apart from the members of Haji Group, Mushtaq-ul-Islam, Showkat Bakshi, Shakil Bakshi, Irshad Ahmed were important members of Islamic Students League. “Sentiments against Indian rule always existed here but people were not giving vent to them. Islamic Students League played a key role in making people aware about the ramifications of Indian rule in Kashmir,” one of the former militant commanders said.
Former Commander who acted as the publicity chief of JKLF then said that it was only after the blast that rocked Srinagar city that government came to know that hundreds of youth have arrived in Valley with weapons to take on India.


“Youth were forced to pick up the gun. All the important members of JKLF were the supporters of Muslim United Front and this party came off with flying colours during 1987 Assembly Elections. But, elections were rigged and all the members especially those who later on became militant commanders were tortured in police stations for none of their fault,” one of the prominent academicians, said.


He added that ‘armed struggle’ attracted the attention of world community after so many decades.


“The two main political parties of the state forced these youth to cross LoC and take arms training. These youth had earlier shown full faith in democratic set up of India and had supported the candidates of Muslim United Front. Syed Salahudin, Malik, Mir and others were interrogated in police stations on the behest of political leaders. No political space was given to them and rest is history,” he said.


Recalling the days of torture and injustice, Mir said that soon after the elections were rigged in 1987, police raided the houses of Islamic Students League members on the directions of then MLA Batamaloo. “Police during a nocturnal raid dragged the mother of JKLF leader Shiekh Abdul Hamid from her house and detained her at Police Station Sher Gari. We were booked under Public Safety Acts and tortured in detention centres,” Mir said. He added that Mohammad Yasin Malik was deliberately provided poisonous food in the jail due to which he lost one heart valve.


Chairman JKLF Mohammad Yasin Malik said that Kashmiri people are peace loving and they never believed in violence. “We were forced to believe that non-violent movement is not an option for we people,” he said, adding, even today no political space is being provided to those leaders who struggle peacefully.


The popularity and activities of the Hajy Group ‘were instrumental in bringing thousands of people on roads seeking right to self determination’. “The struggle is going on and people yearn for the resolution of Kashmir issue,” one of the resistance leaders said.


JKlF chairman, Malik, said, “Today we are observing a day that is significant and important and a game changer as for as the history of Jammu Kashmir is concerned. On this very day Kashmiri youth by starting a new era of resistance washed off the stains of cowardice and non performance from the fore heads of Kashmiris. JKLF is proud of having a distinction of starting this new era of resistance and it was Ishfaq Majeed Wani, Sheikh Abdul Hameed and many other young people who started this new journey of resistance that changed the course of our 5000 year old history.”


Malik said that the people’s movement started in 1988 and still continues though with some what different means and modus operandi and will “continue till the achievement of the goal.”


He said that the struggle started in 1988 was instrumental in bringing a peoples revolution in 1990 when lakhs of Kashmiris took to streets with one slogan of Azadi. “This revolution continued till 2008 when people of Jammu Kashmir on the persuasion of world community made a historic transformation from violence to non violence and started a historic non violent struggle for freedom. Now it is the duty of world community to safeguard this non violent struggle and play its active role in resolving the Jammu Kashmir dispute,” he said.