By : M.A.Aseem London
4th October 1947 is the actual birthday of the Provisional Republican Government of Kashmir also known as Azad Kashmir Government. The nearest past origin of Republican Government of Kashmir lies in the uprising in Poonch during the year of 1947. The simmering revolt in Poonch erupted into an open resistance in July – August 1947. it sparked off by a series of events and exploded by the British announcement that the two new states, Bharat and Pakistan, in British India were to be created and British imperialism was about to leave India. In January 1947, assembly elections were conducted in Jammu Kashmir. In February, Atlee, the British Prime Minister, announced the British Government’s decision to quit India in the very near future.
The people of Jammu Kashmir suspected that something was going to happen, but no one knew where and how. It happened in Poonch in the spring of 1947. The Raja of Poonch was a tributary to the Maharaja of Kashmir. He was dispossessed of his estates during the Second World War and Maharaja of Kashmir began to collect taxes in Poonch. Both the rulers and the taxes were very harsh and exacting. The people of Poonch defied the law of Maharaja by unleashing a no tax campaign in spring 1947,Among the 7167 Kashmir! soldiers who served in the Second World War 6402 were from Poonch. The people of Poonch complained against the harsh taxes.
There was a tax on every hearth, every window, every wife, every cow, every sheep and every buffalo. Further more, The zaldari tax was imposed to pay the cost of taxation, and Dogra troops were billeted on the people of Poonch to enforce the collection. Maharaja Hari Sing had previously refused to accept these soldiers in his military forces after their demobilization and had sent them back to their farms. At the same time, he had strengthened his garrisons in the areas of Poonch including Mirpur with the Sikhs and Hindu Dogras. The people of Poonch including Mirpur did not take it laying down.No sooner did the appointed day (15th August 1947) arrive than they set themselves for combing the areas for the establishment of a free zone in south-western part of the Kashmir State. On 15th August 1947, the British Paramountcy ceased to exist and the sovereignty of the Kashmir State was legally reverted to the people of Kashmir automatically.
This reversion of sovereignty to the people of Kashmir was in the consequence of the provision 7(1.b) of the Indian Independent Act of 1947. Thus, the people of Kashmir had a legal right of self-determination to shape their own destinies by forming their own government. As a result, the struggle for the liberation and independence of Kashmir accelerated by the uprising in Jammu and Poonch around September-October 1947. it was during this period of struggle that Provisional Republican Government of Kashmir (Azad Kashmir Government) was formed on 4th October 1947. On that day the patriotic members of the Muslim Conference assembled at Paris Hotel in Rawalpindi to form a revolutionary government of Kashmir. After several meetings and long deliberation the draft declaration was eventually finalized.
The cabinet of this government consisted of: Khwaja Ghulam Nabi Gilkar (Anwar)-President.Sardar Mohammad Ibrahim Khan – Prime Minister.Nazir Hussain Shah – Finance Minister.Mr Aleem – Education Minister.Mr. Karkhana – Industry Minister.Mr. Fahim – Agriculture Minister.Muzaffarabad was made as headquarters of the Provisional Republican Government. In this connection another meeting was held at Persian Hotel on 5th October. About 200 Kashmiris participated this meeting and all agreed to the declaration and offered their full support and assistance to the newly born Independent Republican Government of Kashmir.On 4th and 5th October 1947, Radio Pakistan broadcast the declaration of the Provisional Government repeatedly. The declaration was also published in several newspapers.
The Civil and Military Gazette Lahore of 8th October 1947 writes : Provisional Republican Government for Kashmir Muslim Conference Leaders Announcement “A provisional Republican Government has been set up for Kashmir State with headquarters at near Muzaffarabad (Jnjal Hill Trarkhal) in Kashmir territory 20 miles from Pakistan border, according to the telegram received from Rawalpindi on Saturday night. The message which is signed by Mr. Anwar who describes himself as the President of Provisional Republican Government of Kashmir state, with the termination of paramountcy of the British Crown the ruling family of Kashmir have lost whatever rights it claimed under the treaty of Amritsar (1846) under which Kashmir was transferred by the British to Maharaja Ghulab Singh a forefather of the present ruler for a paltry sum of rupees 50 lakhs and that the payment with headquarters at Muzaffarabad.
The people have set up a Provisional Republican Government message further states, if after one a.m. on 4th October 1947, Hari Sing the …(deposed) Maharaja or any person acting under his orders or instructions claims to rule over the state, he shall be punished according to the laws of the Provisional Government Henceforth all laws, orders and instructions promulgated or issued by the Provisional Republican Government of Kashmir State to be respected and obeyed. Mr. Anwar is a prominent member of Kashmir Muslim Conference, the president of MC is Choudhary Ghulam Abbas and the general secretary Agha Shuwkat Ali (who) have been imprisoned for about a year by the (illegal) Kashmir government, (A.P.I).”The opportunist politicians of Kashmir overthrew this Provisional Republican Government of Kashmir on 24th October 1947, after 20 days of its birth, in the name of its ‘reconstitution’.
They succeeded easily because two days after the formation of the Provisional Republican Government, its President Khwaja Ghulam Nabi Gilkar Anwar rushed to Srinagar. His purpose was to form an underground resistance in the support of the Provisional Government, to arrest deposed and illegal ruler Hari Sing, and to warn Shaikh Muhammad Abdullah against the so-called Kashmir’s accession to Bharat. During the first two weeks of October the armed struggle that started by the people from different areas of the state hindered the return of the founder President back to Muzaffarabad. He was eventually arrested in Srinagar and his absence from Muzaffarabad paved the way for the opportunists to succeed in overthrowing Provisional Republican Government of Kashmir and turning it into a puppet government. Today. The opportunist Kashmir! politicians refuse to accept that the Azad Kashmir Government was set up on 4th October 1947.
They continue, shamefully, to celebrate 24th October as the birthday of Azad Kashmir Government whereas the declaration issued with the name of reconstitution of Azad Kashmir Government RECOGNISES the legitimacy of the Provisional Republican Government and the formation of its cabinet. The declaration issued in the name of the reconstitution of the Azad Kashmir Government on 24th October 1947 itself cries out loudly about the true birthday of the Provisional Government that can be seen in ‘The Pakistan Times of Saturday 25th October 1947.It states, ‘The Provisional Azad Government which the people of Kashmir had set up- a few weeks ago, with the object of ending intolerable Dogra tyrannies and securing to the people of the state, including Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, the right of the free self-government has now established its rule over a major portion of the state territory and hopes to liberate the remaining pockets of Dogra rule very soon.
In view of this circumstance, it has been RECONSTITUTED with Mr. Ibrahim Bar-At- law of Poonch as its provisional head, and its headquarters had been moved to Plundri in Poonch. The RECONSTITUTED government was formed on 24th OCTOBER 1947.
its cabinet consisted of Sardar Mohammad Ibrahim Khan – as President, and other ministers Sayed Ali Ahmed, shah Chaudhary Abdullah Khan Bhali, Khwaja Ghulam Din Vani, Sayed Nazir Hussain Shah and Sana Ullah Shamim.”The declaration issued in the name of the ‘reconstitution’ of the Provisional Azad Government itself admits the formation of Azad Kashmir Government on 4th October 1947 by stating three factual indicators. The first indicator, ‘the Provisional Azad Government which the people of Kashmir set up a few weeks ago’ — shows the true birthday of Provisional Republican Government. The term ‘RECONSTITUTION’ is itself an indicator to prove that the Provisional Republican Government on 4th October 1947.
Understandably, the reason for not celebrating 4th October as the true birthday of Azad Kashmir Government lies in the final paragraph of the declaration. It says, ‘the question of accession of the state Jammu and Kashmir to either DOMINION can only be decided by free vote by the people in the form of referendum’. This, without any doubt, can be regarded as no less than a historical raid against the legitimacy of the Provisional Republican Government of Kashmir set up on 4″‘ October 1947 and the basis for changing its political programme.Thus, the course of struggle from 24th October 1947 onward has been diverted from National Independence to accession first to either Dominion and then with the passage of time to Pakistan. After looking at the declaration issued on 24lh October 1947, one should need no other authoritative statement or material to certify that the Provisional Republican Government of Kashmir or Azad Kashmir Government came into being on 4th October 1947.