Syed Junaid Hashmi
Did the constituent assembly declare the poem written by Maulana Masoodi and recited by Sheikh Mohammed Akbar at the request of the president of the assembly Ghulam Mohammed Sadiq in the year 1952, the National Song of the state?
Historical records and research studies conducted by various institutes suggest that it was declared National Song but veterans maintain that it was recited but not declared a National Song. The opening lines of the song are “Lehra aye Kashmir key jhanday, Hal walay dilgeer key jhanday, her dam Lehra, her soo Lehra, Taba Kayaamat paiham Lehra (Let this Flag of Kashmir be unfurled, Whoever plough the land, May it fly forever, in every nook and corner, till the day of judgment, May I hold thee!).
Historical records suggest that when the Poem was being recited by late Sheikh Mohammed Akbar, some members of the legislative assembly were found weeping bitterly. During their speeches, they did describe their attachment to the State Flag and the poem recited upon it which was described as National Song. But while moving the draft for adopting state flag, nothing was stated about the poem written on it.
According to the commentary on the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir written by late Justice R.P.Sethi, the poem recited by late Sheikh Mohammed Akbar was described as National Song. He writes “When the motion for adopting the state flag as defined in section 144 of the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir was adopted, the president of the assembly requested Sheikh Mohammed Akbar, a member of the constituent assembly to recite the poem of the flag in the house. The said member recited the poem which was described as National Song.”
However, the commentary of Late Justice R.P.Sethi has not stated anything about the fate that this song met which was described as National Song after late Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah was arrested. Historical records suggest that after Sheikh was detained, this poem was reduced to merely a song recited on the designated flag of National Conference (NC), despite the fact that it was recited when draft for adopting state flag was accepted.
Member of the constituent assembly and a veteran communist leader Comrade K.D.Sethi says that the poem was recited by Sheikh Mohammed Akbar who represented Tangmarg constituency. “He recited this poem which was written by Maulana Masoodi in the constituent assembly after being told to do so by the president of the assembly, but there was no such proposal to declare it a National song,” said Com.K.D.Sethi.
However, constitutional experts suggest that the song was meant for the state flag and not for the flag of National Conference. “Red flag with plow is party symbol of National Conference, they sing this song whenever they hold huge public gatherings or party meetings which they cannot do, this song was sung with intent to honour the state flag which was adopted on June 7, 1952,” said a veteran national conference leader.
He added that either the song should be declared song of the state and recited whenever the state flag is raised otherwise what erstwhile Praja Parishad(PP) and presently Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) has been demanding should be accepted.
“It is highly unfortunate that even after witnessing worst face of terror, we are reluctant to accept certain realities, our state flag which was described as flag of oppressed and suppressed is being attached to a particular party despite the fact that neither it is raised nor lowered on any official occasion,” said another veteran who resigned from politics and is presently living a life in isolation.
Virtually appearing disgusted with the leadership of state, one time close associate of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah maintained that ceremonial raising or lowering of state flag is of no use. “For me honour of the state flag is incomplete until the song which was recited on this flag is not attached to it, if it cannot be done, then let National Flag represent identity of this state,” added the former stalwart of National Conference.
However, Senior People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Nizamuddin Bhatt said that state constituent assembly should have retained the poem of Maulana Masoodi as National Song. “When state flag was adopted, poem recited on it which was described as National Song represented the aspirations of the people living in the state, it should have been allowed to remain alive which unfortunately did not happen, a particular political party as if it was their personal property,” said Bhat.
He added that whatever is spoken within the walls of legislative assembly becomes a property of the state. “When we plead Self-rule, we necessarily mean that identity of the state remains fully protected in view of the fact that we have a constitution of our own, a song describing greatness of state flag generates a feeling of having a protected constitution with authority resting in the hands of the people of all three regions of the state,” added the senior leader of PDP.
He added that if we have been given special status, we should be given a feeling of blessed separate identity. Contrary to this, Senior National Conference Leader Abdul Rahim Rather says that the song is recited at all such places where National Conference is the host. “We sing it with the same honour and dignity with which it was recited in the constituent assembly, but as far as making it a national song is concerned, issue could be debated but we have to keep in mind that Jammu and kashmir is a multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-ethnic state,” added Rather.
English Translation of the song is:
Let this flag of Kashmir be unfurled,
The flag of our people,
Of young and old alike,
Of the strong and the non-violent,
And of our poor peasants
Whoever ploughs the land.
Let this flag be always flying
Over our valleys and our lakes;
Till the day of judgment
Let it raise its proud head
May this flag forever fly
Over the meadows and the mountain tops
Over pastures green and rushing streams
And Limitless expanse of land;
May it ever fly over the houses of the poor
And adorn mansions of the rich.
Let this flag be ever flying
In the four corners of this land;
Till the day of judgment
Let this our symbol be.
This red flag of Kashmir
This beloved flag of ours
And of our peasants, too;
Which brings succor to the poor
And the down-trodden
And gladdens every heart
May it fly forever
In every nook and corner,
Till the day of judgment,
May I behold thee!
Syed Junaid Hashmi is is a journalist with the “The Kashmir Times”. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article first appeared in Countercurrents