Ghulam Abbas – From Young Man Association to Muslim Conference

A young man, from Jammu, born and raised in the Dogra regime. Initially a carefree youth from a considerably known family, with links around the state. Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas aka Raees ul Ahrar fought his first war when he was in the fourth class, leading a team of other children against their immediate seniors at school, the fifth class. Though they ended up being beaten by the stronger elder students and later by their headmaster at school, the same rebellious spirit survived with him till his last.

Chaudhry completed his B.A from Prince of Wales College, Jammu and went on to study law, during the course of this time he was jailed for the first time. He failed his civil law paper in which he was believed to be best in his entire class, where he was offered the post of sub judge before even the result was declared. If one believes in divine intervention, it wouldn’t be hard to say that Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas was destined for much more than just another job under the Dogra rule.

In 1922, while Chaudhry was studying F.A, he was approached by a few friends who expressed their desire to reactivate the defunct Young Man Muslim Association. He agreed, and was one of the youngest members. Their activism started in an environment where a tourist remarked that in whichever road one may cross, he would find cows seated firmly and relaxed at their spots where they wouldn’t even fear cars and their horns. It seemed as if these animals realized their religious status and sacredness. Further, human labour was used for carrying and pulling large loads instead of animals. Such was the view of Aldous Huxley, also mentioned by Chaudhry in his autobiography, Kash ma Kash.

The association started to work on unity among the Muslims, where the members went to mosques where different sects prayed and where they joined them all regularly and routinely. They did social work as well, arranging a proper place for Muslim funerals and which made them further popular among their communities, and kept growing and got extended to other regions. But their greater struggles started in 1931, one of the most tumultuous years in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. From banning of the Eid sermon, discriminating and hateful behavior with Muslim officials and wrongful court decisions instigating the masses to the dreadful and cowardly 13 July shooting on unarmed men, women and children outside Srinagar Central Jail, they had stood with the Muslims as the situation of state evolved and escalated. In these conditions, almost after a decade of the establishment of the Young Man Muslim Association, Chaudhry made his first public speech in 1931 on the banning of the Eid sermon, which the association alongside masses denounced as intervention in religion.

A year later, in 1932, All Jammu Kashmir Muslim Conference was founded; a political party with representatives from all around the state, the party later gave birth to Sheikh Abdullah’s National Conference, who used to be Chaudhry’s close accomplice and the first President of Muslim Conference. Later over the years, Muhammad Ali Jinnah took many tours of Jammu Kashmir where he expressed his confidence and support for Chaudhry, who was also usually Jinnah’s host. Chaudhry also supported Jinnah’s claim for Pakistan, as opposed to Sheikh Abdullah’s National Conference. In 1948, after the division of the subcontinent, Chaudhry migrated to Pakistan. He was the supreme leader of the Muslim Conference, the party controlling the Azad territory of Jammu and Kashmir. He never took any government position in the state, though he was appointed as the Vice President in the refugee aid committee that Jinnah had made as Governor General.

Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas passed away on 18th December 1967. He was buried at Faizabad, Rawalpindi. Every year on this date, his party All Jammu Kashmir Muslim Conference, and several Kashmiris in general gather at the mausoleum to pay tribute to this paramount figure of Kashmiri history.

 

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