26 years to this day, (March 23, 1990) Abdul Sattar Ranjoor was having an ordinary evening, sitting by the side of his wife at their home in Keegam, Shopian. A young man enters the room, says Salam, extends his hand towards Ranjoor Saheb who extends his hand as well but the young man had other intention. He had a pistol in his hand and shot Ranjoor Saheb at point blank range. He disappeared even before Mrs Ranjoor's shriek pierced the air.
Ironically, Ranjoor Saheb's assassinatIon was blatantly owned by separatist leaders ostensibly fighting for the rights of Kashmiris. The fact is he was killed for his political and ideological beliefs and for being known as a crusader for upholding genuine rights of ordinary Kashmiris, mainly rural folk. They wanted to kill dissent, something RSS/BJP regime is presently trying to do through different means. These very separatist leaders are now trying to claim a secular face and inviting Kashmiri Pandits back, conveniently forgetting how some of them created the situation to force them out in the first place.
Ranjoor Saheb was simply in love with Kashmir and it's people irrespective of their faith and belief. He dedicated his entire life to this cause. From 1938-47 he fought alongside other leaders of National Conference. In particular, he played a crucial role during "Quit Kashmir" movement in 1946-47. While most of the leaders were either arrested or outside the state, he in consultation with Ghulam Mohiuddin Qarra planned various anti government activities in South Kashmir. This included planned burning of Rambi Arra bridge and other Government buildings in Shopian/Pulwama.
Dogra rulers came to know of this plan and charged him together with other leaders, including Mr Qarra. This became the famous "Pulwama Conspiracy Case". Reputed Indian lawyer Mr Asif Ali appeared twice for the accused and then handed over the defence to Mr Jia Lal Kilam. During this time, Ranjoor Saheb operated underground and his house used to be raided and looted regularly by police. He kept fighting irrespective of such odds.
Post 1947, he started developing differences with the policies pursued by the government. Politically, a sizeable section of National Conference initially favoured an Independent J&K and he belonged to this group. Even while Sheikh Mohd Abdullah was negotiating terms and conditions of accession, Ranjoor Saheb wrote a poem openly asking him to fight for an independent state. This poem Kashristanuk Khayal (Idea of Kashmir, the nation) was also published as part of his book Bang-e-Inqilaab in 1953. He had started opposing policies of National Conference openly and was arrested in 1951 on a trumpeted charge of organizing peasants against the state.
When the idea of an Independent J&K became a mirage, he still kept nurturing it in his writings. His poetry is littered with it. While Kashristan reiterates Kashmir's grandeur, Mondus (widowhood) reminds us about the fate of Habba Khatoon whose husband Yusuf Shah Chak was deceitfully exiled to end independence of Kashmir. It ends with a prayer for restoration of her fate. Thaff Thaff dyen (Singing lullaby ) reflects the perennial tinkering with the underlying unresolved political stalemate without any intention to attend to the real issue. He warns of an awakening. His clarity of thought and yearning for an Independence is crystal clear. Interestingly, while he was penning down these jewels, some of the separatist leaders were active in politics but doing precious little about the underlying issues.
His idea of Kashmir was beautiful. He sets out attributes of his Kashmir in Tatte myanne Kasheer e dit e Jaay ( Where Kashmir deserves a place). He wanted followers of all faiths to be just human. It is all about hope and enlightenment with no place for hate and despondency. He wanted a new constitution. Nowuy ayeen aasun gotch (Need new constitution) calls for a welfare society, fair and equitable. He was particularly looking forward to betterment of poor, peasants and workers.
Ranjoor Saheb practiced his thoughts throughout his life. He adopted Marxist ideology to fight for the rights of downtrodden. He organized farmers, educating them through structured study circles. He would go to remote villages to understand their problems and help find solutions. He fought for workers causes. He was always anti-establishment and ready to challenge government for policies detrimental to interest of poor, farmers and workers. His home was also an open house where people could bring their problems. He resolved cases which courts failed to do.
He was secular and anti- communal. He took on fundamentalist of all faiths with equal disdain. He has written a lot against the sectarian and communal views of RSS and Jamaat e Islami. There was a running duel between 2 newspapers, "Hamara Kashmir" edited by him and "Azaan" mouthpiece of Jamaat e Islami. He was against hate politics and polarization on the basis of religious considerations.
Notwithstanding his deep engagement on socio-political front, Ranjoor Saheb has immensely contributed to Kashmiri Literature. He started writing Islamic poetry while he was a teenager. When he was 19, he came in contact with Dr Allama Iqbal while he was in Lahore in 1936. Dr Iqbal asked him to instead focus on social engagement and change his poetry accordingly. He also wanted him to return to Kashmir and join Muslim Conference (later renamed National Conference). Ranjoor Saheb benefited from his guidance till Dr Iqbal's death in April 1938 but his poetry and thought process had changed irretrievably. His influence is quite visible in Ranjoor Saheb's poetry. Later on, Marxist ideology and socio-political experiences further enriched his poetic style. He has also written several articles on various subjects. (All his works are accessible at Ranjoor-kashmiri.com)
The young man who assassinated Ranjoor Saheb probably did not know much about him but his masters certainly knew what they were doing.... snuffing out life out of a true Kashmiri as they saw in him a serious threat to their political objectives.
Jammu, Mar 23 (2013): Communist Party of India (CPI) members and activists was held here today at the Jammu press club to commemorate the 23rd death anniversary of Com Abdul Sattar Ranjoor, the veteran communist leader and the founder party secretary who fell victim to bullets of terrorists on 23rd March in 1990. The meeting was chaired by Com Kamal Dev, the senior communist leader of the state and among others was attended by Abdul Rahim Chief Guest, and Com MohdYousuf Tarigarni, MLA and B L Saraf, Ex Principal District and Sessions Judge as guests of honor. The proceedings of the meeting were conducted by Com Abdul Rehman Tukroo, Ex MLC. Naresh Munshi, Rakesh Kumar, MK Dass, Amarjit Singh, NK Dogra, Mohd Yusuf also attended the meet.
The Chief Guest Rather recalled the role of late soul in consolidating the Kissan Movement in the state in general and valley in particular. He enumerated multiple qualities of head and heart of late soul. Com Tarigami described Ranjoor sahib a fellow traveler and spoke of many situations wherein late leader proved a beacon of light to the state's progressive movement. BL Saraf struck an emotional note while describing the departed leader's role as a friend philosopher and guide. Com Abdul Rehman recalled the pioneer role of late Ranjoor in consolidating the secular and pluralistic life of the state and Kashmir valley in particular. Rakesh Kumar; Mohd Yusif, M K Dass and Amarjit Singh also paid their tributes to late leader. The meeting also observed a two minute silence as a mark of respect to the departed leader. The meeting concluded with a vote of thanks moved by MK Dass.
Abdul Sattar Ranjoor was a beloved poet, an honest politician and a fearless revolutionary. He was also my Dadaji (grandfather)...
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