On 13 July 1931, the people of Srinagar marched to the central jail in solidarity with Abdul Qadeer who was charged with sedition by the Maharaja. During the protests, over 22 Kashmiris were martyred by the Dogra forces. Amidst a lot of wails and screaming, the martyrs were laid to rest after Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah requested for their burial at the Naqshbandi sahab shrine. In that moment, some ordinary Kashmiri hoisted a bloody red shirt on a stick and waved it. This became Kashmir’s first flag of resistance.
The recent media hysteria over the two flags issue inflated by the powerless unionists in Kashmir is a stale recipe that always shows itself. Somehow the Indian Media always finds issues to somehow impose their rabid narrative on Kashmir. Most of these narratives are blatant propaganda equipped with flashy montages and fake accents. The fact check or intelligence of these ‘journalists’ goes for a toss.
Over the past week it has seemed like the two-flags i.e one of the Indian state and another one of Jammu Kashmir is the only bone of contention. With the JK High court ordering the Jammu Kashmir flag to be made mandatory on all government buildings and vehicles. While as wannabe Bill o’ Reillys try to equate this issue parallel to the Azadi and in fact one of them even equated Omar Abdullah to a ‘separatist’. This goes to show that despite the services rendered by the pro India politicians to the Indian state, the mistrust for them among Indian intelligentsia persists.
The Jammu Kashmir flag which is described in the Section 144 of the Jammu Kashmir constitution, the upholders of this constitution are bound to hoist it on their offices and official cars. The flag has three staffs and a plough with red in background, this is basically the National Conference flag adopted in 1939 known as ‘Albe’an’.
The flag takes its inspiration from the communist movement due to Sheikh Abdullah’s communist leanings that also led to the land resettlement bill to uproot feudalism. It was given constitutional sanction by the 1952 constituent assembly that also ratified accession of Jammu Kashmir with India, which was later dismissed by a UN resolution in 1956-57 saying that constituent assembly cannot replace the plebiscite.
On the other side is the prominently featured Azad Kashmir flag which was created in 1947-8 by a large section of people at Muzzafarabad during the first Kashmir war. According to AJK Supreme Court Justice Yusuf Saraf, the flag was inspired from the Pakistani and American revolutionary flag
Symbolically the flag represents many aspects of Azad Jammu and Kashmir:
Three Fourths green background representing the seventy five percent Muslim population of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. One Fourth Orange (Gold) color represents the twenty five percent minorities of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Green stripes represent the Valley of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.The White stripes represent the snow-covered mountains of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.The Crescent is the usual semblance of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
This flag was adopted by Azad Jammu & Kashmir on 24th September 1975. The flag was adopted by the passing of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir State Flag Ordinance, 1975 by the then president, Sardar Mohammad Ibrahim Khan.
Sardar Ibrahim was the first barrister of Kashmir, who led the 50,000 volunteers in Poonch to fight against the Dogras and later the Indian Army. This war against Dogras happened on 17 October 1947, before the Afridis came into Kashmir. That’s a discussion for later on.
It was substituted by the late Sardar Abdul Qayoom Khan in 1970s when he became the head of Azad Kashmir. Later Qayoom’s flag was abrogated and the old flag was brought back on to the top of government buildings and official cars.
Liaquat Ali Khan, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, Choudhary Ghulam Abbas Khan, Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah and host of international leaders have saluted this flag. It is also included in the United Nations record.
In the late 20th century, this flag has been hoisted by various Kashmiri leaders in exile. It was on the desk of the legendary Dr. Ayyub Thakur and JKLF offices around the world.
This flag is spotted in many Pakistani cricket and hockey matches wherever there’s a significant population of Kashmiri diaspora especially England. It’s also waved during pro- Kashmir protests around the globe.
For many years, Kashmiri intellectuals and activists have had many discussions about having a single flag for Jammu Kashmir. There have been yahoo groups, facebook pages and other forums dedicated to creating a flag. Does Kashmir have a flag of its own?
The Jammu Kashmir flag making media bytes has very little significance for ordinary Kashmiris, who see it as a part of Indian state. The flag is the last legacy of the autonomous Kashmir for which Sheikh Abdullah shook hands with India. It is a form of nostalgia for National Conference supporters, a party that has been spearheading the exploitation of the people. The thrust made to signify this flag as a form of ‘separatism’ is a narrative to create confusion among the people.
In fact the rabble-rouser Engineer Rashid even had a flag hoisting ceremony some time ago. Without any awareness of realities of this symbol, many gullible Kashmiris even stood up to the icon of our cruel oppression.
It becomes important that Kashmiris are educated of their own history not through chastisation of delirious Indian media. As far as the flag of Kashmiris is considered, the bloody shirt has seen many a hoisting over the last two decades.
This recent interest in this collaborator approved flag that’s a symbolic acceptance of Indian occupation is all but to befool people especially Kashmiris to invoke in them a false sense of pride and identity with it.
Maybe we can design our own.
Published on Kashmir Reader on January 5th