Kashmir freedom struggle: poem Iqbal wrote in Nishat

Two years before the Lahore Resolution (Qarardad-e-Pakistan) was passed, the philosopher-poet Allama Iqbal who dreamt of a separate nation for Muslims of South Asia, departed from this world. While his role in the formation of Pakistan is well know, did you know he played a part in the Kashmir peoples’ struggle for freedom.

Here are some facts you must know:

  • A leading political activist Dr. Mumtaz Hassan noted one day when he was sitting with Iqbal and discussing political struggle in Kashmir, the poet mentioned about a Persian poem ‘Saqi Nama’ in Payam-e-Mashriq, which he had written in Nishat Bagh in Kashmir (1920). Iqbal told him: ‘In one of the verses, I had mentioned about silk factories and workers working there in. I am amazed Kashmir political struggle started with rebellion by workers of a Silk factory in 1924.’

In same poem, Iqbal prayed to God to ‘Bring revolution in the hearts of Kashmir people so that they can live with honor in this world’ ( Rozgar-e-Fiqar page 358). Read Iqbal’s Saqinama

  • He was the spirit behind mobilizing the public opinion in support of the people of Kashmir and organizing Kashmir Day on August 14, 1931. Muslim across India came in support of Kashmir people when Iqbal issued an appeal, which few others also signed. The appeal read:

“After attacking repeatedly the enemy has deluded itself into believing that Muslims are a dead nation. To refute this misbelief it is your obligation to make the Kashmir Day a resounding success. By actions Muslims must demonstrate that they were not going to be willing victims of their enemies, injustice and repression.”

  • The July 13, 1931 massacre in Kashmir deeply touched Iqbal. It had bruised his heart. He raised donations for victims of violence, and sent these to Kashmir leaders. In addition, he persuaded some-well-known lawyers to visit Kashmir with a view to provide legal aid to jailed Kashmir people. The authorities expelled these leaders and some including Iqbal were banned from entering into Kashmir.
  • Writes Dr. Hafiz Malik that due to Iqbal’s efforts the Glancy Commission was appointed by the British government, which recommended variety of constitutional reforms in Jammu and Kashmir after conducting a thorough investigation of the massacre.
  • Iqbal’s stirring speech on 14 August 1931, on Kashmir Day about Muslims in India and Punjab not having been deeply interested in the affairs of Kashmir- even Punjabis of Kashmir origin being ignoramus about plight of their brethren had woken up the Muslims in India more particularly in Punjab.
  • Iqbal equated Kashmir Movement with the Khilafat movement of 1920 that reflected the Islamic impulse in practical terms. To help the people of Kashmir, on 30 June 1933, he and Malik Barkat Ali secretary of newly reconstituted All India Kashmir Committee issued an appeal to help the people of Kashmir and raise funds. In this long highly empathetic appeal Iqbal said:

“If Kashmir people were alive and enjoyed the life of an energized nations their innovative skills could help in improving the economic conditions of India. It may be stated that people of Kashmir are the best part of the Muslims in India, and that part is in pain and anguish then it is impossible for other members of nation to sleep in peace.”

  • The period of September 1931- February 1932 was exceptionally busy in Iqbal’s life but the cause of Kashmir was so dear to the philosopher-poet that he missed no opportunity to talk about Kashmir. His presidential address on being elected President of the All India Muslim Conference on March 21, 1932 held at Lahore indicates how deeply he felt concerned about Kashmir.

“I appeal to Muslims of Kashmir to beware of the forces that are working against them and to unite their ranks. The time for two or three Muslim political parties in Kashmir has not yet come. The supreme need of the moment is a single party representing all Muslims in the state.”

He warned these leaders:

“If perfect unanimity of political opinion is not secured in Kashmir, all efforts to advance the interests of the people of the state will prove ineffective.”