By Dr. Brij Premi
In India the
progressive movement in literature witnessed a formal start in the year 1931.
Within a short span of a few years, the movement struck its roots in almost all
parts of the country. Notwithstanding the fact that Kashmir was neither a Urdu
language zone, nor was Urdu, the mother tongue of Kashmiris; yet the local
writers adopted and patronized it to ventilate their feelings. In the light of
this fact, it is futile to dig for any specific trend in Urdu literature in
Kashmir during this period. However, when the progressive movement spread its
tentacles throughout the country by surmounting all the barriers of colour,
creed and language; the Kashmiri writers did not remain immune to its affects.
At the same time, events of far-reaching consequences
were emerging on the political front in
Muslim Conference, which was the largest local political party was converted
into the National Conference and its leadership went into the hands of a
broad-minded person like Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.
were also enrolling themselves in it. Instead of communal preference, the
political agenda formulated by it was nationalist one and it drew it's
inspiration from the Indian Freedom Movement. At the same time, Kashmir also
registered its protest against the oppressive and exploitive mechanisms of the
then rulers. Under the leadership of National Conference, a sustained campaign
against subjugation, poverty and social imbalances had begun, the echo of which
was also observed in the then poetry. One could also perceive the traces of
revolt in the poetry of Mehjoor, Azad and Dilsoz around this time.
other things, the progressive writers organisation in its very first Lucknow
declaration asserted: "We desire new Indian literature to focus on hunger,
poverty, social injustice and subjugation, which are the basic problems of
life." It was not a mere coincidence but the need of the hour that a movement
against the 'Jagirdhari' system had begun in
under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. Besides other things, the
issues of hunger, social imbalances, exploitation and subjugation were on the
forefront. At this very time, the literary Urdu circles were witnessing the
emergence of Prem Nath Sadhu Raunak as a budding writer. He later on succeeded
in establishing his credentials in the literary circles of the subcontinent
under the name of Prem Nath Pardesi. Pardesi was the first short story writer
In his initial stages of writing, he due to Tagore's influence would resort to
romanticism. But the potrayal of social reality in Prem Chand's work, the
injustice perpetuated by the exploitive forces, the advent of progressive
movement and the emergence of the local political events convinced Pardesi for
the first time that a better part of his life had gone waste. This he himself
acknowledges : "This transformation was such that it not only opened new Vistas
for me but also gave a new ideology to the nation. I felt that if I did not
align myself with this ideology even now, my short stories are useless and the
future historian will never forgive me. Being in government service, I could not
join the National Conference, but in disguise I could make the public aware
about subjugation, poverty and exploitation through my short stories."
Allahabad No. 8)
only started writing against this exploitation but in association with his few
friends established a literary organisation under the name of "Halqae
Arbab Zauk". This organisation came into existence in early 1940s'. This
organisation had no connection with 'Halqae Arbab Zauk' of
Lahore but there was a hell of difference
in ideologies between the two. The access of the young writers of
limited to the house of Prem Nath Pardesi, where literary meets would take
place. The active members of this organisation included P.N. Pushup, Prem Nath
Dhar, Qaisar Qalandhar, Som Nath Zutshi besides Mirza Arif Beigh and others. It
was here that short stories were read, poetry was recited and discourses were
held. It was the direct outcome of the progressive movement by virtue of which
they had come together. But this process did not last long and the organisation
disintegrated. Inspite of this closure of 'Halqae Arbab Zauk', the literary
roots did not dry-up. During this time, the famous film producer and director
and a noted progressive short story writer Ramanand Sagar, a native of Kashmir
came into close contact with Pardesi. During his brief stay outside the state,
he had formally aligned himself with this movement. He persuaded Pardesi to open
a branch of progressive writers organisation. It is no overstatement to say that
Prem Nath Pardesi and Ramanand Sagar played the same role in consolidating the
progressive movement in
as was done by Sajad Zaheer and his friends in other parts of India. The same
has been acknowledged by Pardesi himself: "Immediately on his arrival after two
years, Ramanand Sagar met me. He asked me to establish a branch of the
progressive writers organisation. Eventually, we both joined hands together to
mobilize the native progressive writers and established an organisation, which
exists even today". These were the same progressive writers, who were associated
with 'Halqae Arbab Zauk'. This is how progressive writers organisation was
launched formally. The organisation operated from Pardesi's house and gradually
its influence extended. The progressive poets and writers from outside
Kashmir, by their participation in the meetings
of the organisation, cheered-up the young talent. This helped in the growth of
the movement. The functioning of this small organisation took the shape of a
full-fledged literary movement in the state of
Kashmir. Those of the basic problems which were
mentioned in the progressive writers first declaration again became the subject
earlier the meetings of the organisation would take place on the first day of
every month at Pardesi's house. But with the spread of its sphere of influence
and the increased interest shown by the literary people, the venue of the
meetings shifted to the halls of Biscoe School and S.P. College. The proceedings
of those meetings were published in 'Navyug', a newspaper edited
by Nand Lal Wattal and subsequently in a weekly 'Nizam', published from
Bombay. At this time, Rajander Singh Bedi, Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, Balraj Sahni,
Devinder Satyarthi and many other progressive writers and poets arrived here and
participated in the meetings of the organisation. Prem Nath Pardesi, Som Nath
Zutshi, Ali Mohammad Lone, Sallahudin Ahmed, Kanwal Nain Parvez, Professor
Mahmood Hashmi, S.N. Kanwal, Qaisar Qalandhar, Mohinder Raina, Hamid Fitrat and
Dr. Nazurul Islam are the notable local writers and poets, who were associated
with this organisation. This organisation remained active till 1948 and proved
quite affective. At this time, Ramanand Sagar wrote many short stories, which
were put to debate in these meetings.
wrote a few of his famous short stories, which had the then regime's
exploitation as the main theme. 'Khutbay', 'Kagaz Ki Jandiyen', 'Juvari'
are the notable short stories, which were read-out in different meetings
of the organisation. In October 1947, Pakistan at the behest of the British
imperialists sent armed infiltrators into Kashmir. These were the days, when the
Dogra rule was on its last legs. The weak forces of Maharaja Hari Singh
capitulated against the onslaught of heavily armed invading forces, who were
experts in guerilla warfare. The Maharaja ran away leaving behind his helpless
subjects in lurch and the government came into the hands of the people, whose
leader was Sher-e-Kashmir, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. The infiltrators were
forced to flee with the help of Indian army and it was a turning point in our
history. The infiltrators by coming close to the city limits of
had snatched peace and harmony of the people. A reign of loot, plunder, death
and destruction was at its peak.
circumstances, besides external defence, maintaining internal peace and
confidence was necessary. As such a small force by the name of National Militia
was formed, whose one wing named as Cultural Front comprised of intellectuals,
writers, poets and enlightened youth. It is pertinent to mention here that most
of those enrolled in the National Conference were progressive mined youth. For
this, 'Naya Kashmir', the manifesto of the National Conference is
a proof in itself. However, Khwaja Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq and Moulana Mohammad
Sayeed, who occupied a place of prominence in the National Conference,
consolidated the cultural front movement. Initially, the front functioned from
the Coronation Hotel (presently
It was here in the rooms of this hotel that the early soul-stirrings songs were
composed, Guns were distributed and training imparted to the intellectuals,
writers and poets, who owned their allegiance to this front. With the guns on
their shoulders, they would guard during nights and compose new songs during the
the first to offer his services to the front. 'Step by step, we will march
ahead and fight on the front', a famous song of him then, was on everybodys'
lips at that time.
'Swali' and 'Mujahid Sherwani', the
dramas written by Pardesi during this time were staged by National Cultural
Front and became instantaneous hits. The cultural front became very popular in a
short span of time. Its theatre wing (which was following 'Ipta'
line), staged Mehmood Hashmi's drama
'Choudan Golien' of Khwaja Ahmed Abass, in addition to Pardesi's dramas.
The theatre wing included Dina Nath Nadim, Mohan Lal Aima, Usha Kashyap,
Khurshid Jallaudin, Sumitra and Santosh Lakhwara, Achala Sachdev, Sheela Bhatia,
Sher Jang, Raj Bans Khanna, Durga Singh, Girdhari Dhar, Pran Kishore and others.
These plays proved fruitful for our stage and the theatre movement. With the
emergence of the extra ordinary political situation, this front was disbanded.
On similar lines, the state Cultural Congress came into being.
of three sections, that of writer's and poets (writer's section), theatre
artists' section, and painters section. The writers section was known by the
name of Progressive Writers Association (P.W.A.), which was headed by
Khwaja Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq. This organisation in addition to being practically
a part of the Progressive Movement, was also working actively as its unit. Being
disciplined to its objectives, it was pursuing its programme vigorously.
number of intellectuals were associated with it, the notable among them being
Peer Abdul Ahad, Ghulam Rasool Renzu, Peer Giasudin, Noor Mohd., Moti Lal Misri,
Pran Nath Jalali, Badri Nath Nishat and Madhusudhan Kausar. The senior writers
and poets included Shair-e-Kashmir Mehjoor, Aasi, Master Zinda Koul and amongst
the younger generation, almost all the prominent writers, poets and artists were
involved with this organisation; the notable among them being Dina Nath Nadim,
Rehman Rahi, Amin Kamil, Mohinder Raina, Noor Mohammad Roshan, Aziz Haroon, Zaib
Majboor, Akhtar Mohiudin, Som Nath Zutshi, Ali Mohd. Lone, Qaisar Qalandhar,
Bansi Nirdosh, Nand Lal Ambardar, Prem Nath Premi, Dina Nath Almast, Deepak Koul
besides Tej Bahadur Bhan etc.
discussions would take place in the weekly meetings of the organisation. The
participants would include not only writers and poets but also the intellectuals
and educationists. It is a fact that the critical and the creative trend was not
extremist in nature but the situation was the same as was prevalent in the
initial stages of the progressive movement everywhere. Through these meetings,
the Kashmiri and Dogri literature drew new inspirations. A realisation dawned
that the revolutionary ideas and changing intellectual perceptions can best be
represented in the local language, and mother tongue only. As such, it found its
outlet in Kashmiri, Dogri and Ladakhi creative writings, which in turn enriched
It is apt to
state that the present distinguished Kashmiri writers and poets, who were
associated with this organisation, used to write in Urdu language earlier. Urdu
was the creative language of Nadim, Rahi, Kamil, Akhtar, Nirdosh, Deepak, Tej,
Som Nath Zutshi and Ali Mohd. Lone. At this time, the legendary Hindi
progressive writer, novelist and a critic Shodan Singh Chouhan was the moving
spirit behind this organisation, who perhaps under the directions of the central
organisation was camping here. Under his guidance, the activities of the
organisation attained new heights. The renowned artist Sheela Bhatia was
associated with the theatre wing. Ali Sardar Jaffari, Dr. Ram Vilas Sharma, Dr.
Salamat Ullah, Zia Ahmed, Kamal Ahmed Sidiqqi (who latter-on worked in the Radio
Station here), frequented the organisation's meetings as and when present here.
In this way, under a fine formulated guide line, not only was the movement run
but the literature too got a flip.
1953 once again witnessed a new political turn in Kashmir. Sheikh Mohammad
Abdullah was arrested. Under the leadership of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad and Khwaja
Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq, the new government undertook various new initiatives.
The name of
State Cultural Congress was changed into State Cultural Conference.
writers and poets from Ladakh and
were more actively associated with it. This movement impressed upon to write in
the local languages in order to garner the local support. It was realised that
the expressions can be conveyed effectively though the mother tongue.
In order to
gain public confidence, the second important consideration was to present the
problems of the people in their own languages.
consequence, it created a wealth of creative literature in Kashmiri, Dogri and
It can be
said with certainty that in the absence of this movement, perhaps our local
languages would have not attained such a tremendous growth. The theatre wing of
the organisation, which was apart of 'Ipta’ increased its
activities greatly. A young poet, Abdul Gani Namtahali and his friends did a
pioneering job in making the commonman well acquainted with the revolutionary
Kashmiri poetry. Namthali was a native of Namthal, Chadura. He was recognised as
a public musician and was known as local 'Paul Robsan'.
As and when
he would sing in his sweet voice in tune with his music, the atmosphere would
reverberate with the revolutionary affect. The author himself was a witness to
such countless mesmerizing performances in the rural belt at that time.
to create a pubic movement through culture, poetry, literature and art is a
historical fact. During this time, the organisation also published a few
booklets, the notable among them being, 'Gaye Ja Kashmir', 'Vuja-Mal'
(lightening) and 'Soan Gaevun' (our songs).
Nadim was a torch-bearer of this movement. Nadim's writings attained phenomenal
dimensions when he shifted to writing in Kashmiri from Urdu. He was a pioneer
among the Kashmiri poets of the time. Fact is that Nadim gave a new dimension to
the Kashmiri poetry. His experimentation with the trends and contents in this
language will always be remembered with appreciation. A major portion of his
poetry exhibiting revolutionary and rebellious trends are in the form of free
verse. He was the first to write the first sonnet and first opera in Kashmiri.
greatly utilized the form of the folk songs in his poetry, which at times was
greatly influenced by the poetry of Chakbast, Ahsan Danish and Josh. But after
his association with the progressive movement, he wrote on novel themes, which
opened new Vistas in Kashmiri literature.
time, Som Nath Zutshi, who earlier worked as Secretary of Progressive Writers
Organisation, shifted from Urdu to Kashmiri language. Basically, he was a Urdu
short story writer. Around this time, he wrote 'Yeli Phol Gash'.
In this way, his short story along with Nadim's first short story 'Jawabi
Card', enjoy a prime place in Kashmiri language. Akhtar Mohiudin too was
associated with the organisation at this time. Akhtar was an acknowledged Urdu
short story writer and his short story 'Pandrich' was an award
winning entry in one of the Urdu short story contest. He also started writing
short stories in Kashmiri. His compilation of short stories 'Sat Sangar'
was the first compilation in Kashmiri language, which won him the
Sahitya Academy Award. Rahi, Kamil, Firaq, Roshan, Ranjoor were outstanding
poets, who due to the diversities of themes and by their experimentation with
the trends carved-out a niche for themselves in the Kashmiri literature. The
organisation also started publishing a periodical 'Kong Posh'
(saffron). In the initial stages, it had two sections: Urdu and Kashmiri. But
later-on during the time of cultural conference 'Kong Posh' was
published separately in both Urdu and Kashmiri languages. Based on progressive
ideas and convictions, one more periodical 'Azad' which was edited
by Badri Nath Nishat and Madhusudhan Kosar, was published.
time, these publications ceased to be published but their contribution in the
enrichment of progressive movement can never be overlooked. A number of
organisations came into existence at that time. 'Halqae Adab Khanyar'
is worth mentioning. Even though, these organisations were not associated at
the administrative level with the Progressive Writers' Organisation, but the
kind of literature presented and the nature of discourses held, had the
objective to develop and expand the progressive ideology.
time, the young artists of the cultural conference and other organisatinos who
made their presence felt included Umesh Koul, Ghulam Nabi Khayal, Chaman Lal
Chaman, Makhan Lal Baeqas, Muzaffar Azim, Farooq Budgami, Shahid Budgami, Moti
Lal Saqi, Brij Premi, Pushkar Nath, Hakim Manzoor, Manzoor Hashmi, Autar Krishan
Rehbar, Tahir Muztar, Shankar Raina, Taj Begum, Nirmala Kusum, Ghulam Nabi Baba,
Rashid Nazki, Ayub Betab, Bahudin Zahid, Badurudin, Shamim Ahmed Shamim, Hari
Krishan Koul, Farooq Nazki and many other artists. A few among them are
presently well-known Urdu and Kashmiri writers and poets, enjoying national
declaration of the Progressive Writers Organisation (of India) asserted "The
objective of our organisation is to free the literature and the fine arts from
the grip of fanatics and make it a representative of people's aspirations, hopes
and struggle so as to pave way for the bright future, for which the humanity is
striving for presently. We Indians claim to be the inheritors of the proud
cultural legacy...We through the organisation will represent those aspirations,
which will show a new and better way of life to our nation."
declaration of All State Cultural Conference also reaffirmed the manifesto of
the first conference of the Progressive Writers' Organisation with a few
amendments: "We declare that our culture, our nation and the public life is dear
to us. We also declare that the cultural heritage left behind by our ancestors
will be preserved by us at any cost. By enriching further these traditions, we
will formulate a better life. We also declare that for promotion of art and
literature, the betterment of public life is necessary. Fine art and literature
have always represented the aspirations and feelings of the people. Only that
art has flourished, which has remained aligned with the concerns of public
life..." (Bi-Monthly Kong Posh Urdu Number 1).
declarations are similar in nature and represent the same line. After 1957-58,
this movement gradually slowed down and lost its original grandeur. This
situation developed in the overall progressive movement of the country. The
progressive movement in
has remained a prominent literary movement. It had taken an integrated and
unified shape in Kashmir and it set new milestones not only for Kashmiri but
also for Dogri and Ladakhi literature. For this very reason, nobody from the
field of literature can overlook the historical and beneficial role of this
*(Translated from original Urdu by Sh. Upender Ambardar)