By Nazir Jahangir
It was 28th May when the Editor of a leading daily arranged an interview with ex Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Jenab late Syed Mir Qasim. Then the former entrusted this job to me to have the interview with Mir Qasim Sahib. I accepted this task.
I contacted my friend Iqbal Fahim Sahib, who is a noted writer and critic, to accompany me in order to make this interview more useful and evaluating.
It was Sunday. At 11 A.M we entered the gates of Qasim Sahib’s residence situated at Barzalla, Srinagar.
Qasim Sahib was sitting in a chair on the porch of his house. He greeted us warmly. We both, I and Fahim Sahib asked him questions. We too sat down in two chairs for discussion.
Qasim Sahib’s facial expressions on our different questions projected his anxiety and discomfort while to some of enquiries he preferred to be ambiguous.
Q: What book are you currently reading, Sir? We started the interview with this question.
A: These days I am reading a book titled “Rise And Fall Of Great Emperors”. This has been written by Jhon Kennedy.
Q: What did you infer from the premise of this book? We posed next question.
A: This book is replete with the saga of rise and fall of great powers. How the control of great powers diminished and replaced by new players in the International arena. When economic growth and defence expenditure lack proportion and relation between corresponding things imbalances, as a consequence, not only a serious but critical situation gives a rise. It is obligatory upon every nation to rely on its economic growth. If this policy is not followed and spending on military expenditure exceeds the revenues that results in disaster. It hinders the progress and development. Military expenditures must not exceed lest it opens the floodgates and lead to unmanageable problems. It could cause decline in overall development of the country and having even adverse affects on security scenario also.
Q: Could this proposition be construed as a message to our country that it should not aspire becoming a superpower?
A: People should always try to live within their means.
Q: Some circles believe that autobiographies are mostly bundle of lies wherein reality is distorted and real facts are suppressed? What is your take on, Sir?
A: This is true that many a times an author (the protagonist) tries to conceal his share in blunders, shortcomings and hid his flaws of life but I did nothing like that in my autobiography.
Q: Do you believe that late Shaikh Muhammad Abdullah Sahib has mislead the people about some events (we meant in autobiography)?
A: I don’t want to comment anything on that. Nevertheless, this book focuses more on Shaikh Sahib’s own self while history has been given a little space.
Q: Isn’t it a reality that when anyone loses power everything suddenly seems uneven to him and he finds injustices and discrimination all over, while being in power he forgets all his obligations and promises?
A: When a person is out of power many things surface before him which otherwise remain out of sight while in chair. But I am not among those people.
Q: What sort of memorable initiatives or wonderful works of your regime set you apart from others?
A: I abolished “monarchy”.
Q: Do you believe we really enjoy the genuine democracy here and the democratic values are protected?
He said, no.
We asked, Who is to be held responsible for that?
“We all are responsible”, came the reply from him.
In reply to one of our questions he opined that governments in this state should not be formed on the dictates of Delhi but people on the will of people. It should be on their choice to form or topple the government. He strongly criticised the family rule and said if a son of any leader comes to power on his own merits and capacity then there is nothing wrong in that but if he tries to wrest power selling his father’s name that is unwelcome and tantamount to trampling the democratic values and spirit.
Since Mir Qasim Sahib served as Chief Minister of J&K State for a long time so naturally he had open access to classified information, confidential records and sensitive details also. We thought it better to ask him some questions about the displacement of sacred relic from Hazratbal Shrine in 1963.
Across most of the democratic world the classified information is reviewed after 25-30 years and then released to general public but here in this case of displacement of the holy relic all happenings and its recovery is still a mystery. Nothing in this regard was ever made public. There are, however, some exceptions when for some good reasons sensitive information cannot be released. In India it is very rarely if any significant information is declassified. Anyway, we asked a few questions to Qasim Sahib regarding its missing and recovery:
Q: Why “Moyi Muqadas” (holy relic) was taken away? What were the real facts behind its missing and recovery? Who was responsible for its displacement? Theives were never identified and investigation not disclosed?
A: Nothing can be said with absolute certainty in this behalf. Why it was taken away or who is responsible in this case or where from it was recovered? I think this will always remain a mystery. When Mr. G. N. Malik, the CBI Chief, was insisted on to details but he declined to say anything. Even our sustained efforts to know the facts did not yield any result. I and G.M. Sadiq Sahib even threatened to resign but in spite of that real facts were not told us, nor they can never surface. There are many stories about it but not any authentic detail.
When we expressed our curiosity to know some clue about it and wished to inquire his personal guess he had? He replied that a police officer was involved in this case but Qasim Sahib squarely refused to disclose his name.
Nazir Jahanir is a writer and columnist