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Articulation of Kashmiri Identity: Role of National Conference

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A meek attempt has been made in the study “Articulation of Kashmiri Identity: Role of National Conference” to examine the Role of National Conference in Kashmir Politics in its historical and contemporary perspective.  Different dynasties and kings ruled it over a period of tune. But it was during the last days of Dogra rule that exploitation and repression was resisted. It was in Dogra rule that the Muslim subjects, who formed bulk of the population, bore the heaviest brunt of the Dogra autocracy which was highly exploitative. The Dogra rule was responsible for disseminating in the minds of its subjects, the seeds of resentment against its very existence. Politically suppressed and economically exploited, the Muslims of the Jammu and Kashmir also suffered educational backwardness. The anti-Muslim attitude of the Dogra Raj further added to their miseries. The pleas and representations of the Muslim community for their betterment largely went unheeded.

In 1931-33, anti-feudal rising broke out in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The events assumed most menacing proportions. A mass movement against the colonial rulers and the Maharaja, a Dogra by race and Hindu by religion had been in progress since 1931. The practice of exploitation was at its peaks. The largest of exploited were Kashmiris by race and Muslims by religion. This movement aims at a definite purpose, i.e., to secure justice for downtrodden and subdued humanity. The focus here was as to how an organized and decisive freedom movement started against an autocratic ruler of Jammu and Kashmir under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. It goes to the credit of Muslim population of the state of  Jammu and Kashmir in general and the father of the Kashmir freedom  movement, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in particular, that when they realized  the dividing game of the Dogra ruler, they squeezed out and threw away  religion and communal touches from the movement and adopted the banner of  all Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (Blood red with plough in the  middle) and not the Islamic banner (green with crescent in the centre) under  which the movement was initially organized. The conversion of Muslim Conference into National Conference, a changeover on broader basis symbolizing the secularization of politics in Kashmir, became an inevitable necessity owing to certain developments within and without the Muslim Conference organization. These developments and the appearance of factious politics among the leaders, the inimical role played by Hindu communities and the Government against the freedom struggle conducted solely by the Muslims and the consequent emergence of radical forces and their role in redirecting the movement which ultimately threw its doors open to non-Muslims.

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