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Lion of Kashmir was chicken-hearted: Book

Haroon Mirani

Srinagar, August 21, 2007:

Sheikh Abdullah

Former Prime Minister of Indian administered Kashmir, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, often referred to as Sher-i-Kashmir (Lion of Kashmir) was “coward and corrupt, and feared prosecution for his acts” says a recently released book.

The book “Bouquet, A tribute to Unsung Heroes of Kashmir” written by senior Kashmiri journalist and human rights activist Zahir-ud-Din, has profiled dozens of people associated with the Kashmir separatist movement, many of them having been close associates of Abdullah.

The book also claims that Abdullah – the pioneer of struggle against Dogra autocracy in Kashmir – was reluctant to join the movement, and was forced by compulsions to join the ‘Reading Room Party’, which became the foundation of the Kashmir freedom struggle.

Abdullah, who had just arrived from Aligarh Muslim University after completing his M.Sc, did not participate in the ground breaking meeting of veteran separatists on May 8, 1930, the book says.

Abdullah repeatedly refused to join the separatist organisation aimed to overthrow the Dogra Maharajas. But when Abdullah, working as a teacher, was transferred to distant hilly district Muzaffarabad, he agreed to join the Reading Room party, after resigning from government service.

On one occasion when authorities pasted a notice on the door of Jamia Masjid (Grand Mosque) announcing punishment for using religious places for political activities, the Reading Room Party with Abdullah in chair decided to remove it. But Abdullah himself didn’t dare to touch the notice and it was another member who volunteered the act, the book reveals.

In 1931 Sheikh Abdullah, G N Gilkar, Chaudhary Abbas, Mistri Yaqoub and Gowher Rehman were detained at the Koh-e-Maran (Hariparbat) Fort. Abdullah was frightened of darkness and did not enter a dark cell. It was finally veteran Ghulam Nabi Gilkar who led the party members inside.

The book claims that Abdullah was advised by his colleagues to form a government in exile, when he left for Hajj pilgrimage in mid 60s. But Abdullah could not muster courage, as according to the book he was greatly under the influence of first Indian Prime Minster Jawahar Lal Nehru. Incidentally he was arrested after returning to Kashmir.

Regarding Abdullah’s corrupt practices the book says that he had managed to amass disproportionate assets other than known source of income, the details of which were compiled by the Indian Home Ministry.

When Abdullah was shown the file of his assets, he became nervous and after that he started talks with Indian government (Baig-Parthsarthi talks) to keep hold on his property and have immunity from prosecution.

Earlier, when Abdullah was in jail, Miss Sarabhai, on behalf of Indian government, had won over his wife and family members with ministerial chairs, huge funds and other incentives, the book claims.

The book has ripped apart the character of Abdullah through the accounts of his colleagues and other people associated with Kashmir’s freedom struggle.

The book also describes through one of the separatist workers that 1970’s People’s Convention was Abdullah’s way of smoothening U-turn for Indira-Sheikh Accord.

Abdullah disliked opposition and the book lays account to number of such incidents where Abdullah’s men harassed and tortured his opponents.

Abdullah’s favourite weapon of getting rid of his opponent was to subject them to exile to Pakistan administered Kashmir.



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