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February 24, 2014

Idealist who loved Kashmir: Revisited

(Continued)

NORMAN —

On April 22, 1958, the Special Correspondent of The Times of London wrote: “one’s impression on returning to the valley of Kashmir for the first time since Sheikh Abdullah was released is that he is still a power to be reckoned with. Alone, his principal colleagues and supporters all in gaol (sic), his every movement under police observation, his very presence is enough to deprive the present Kashmir government of all peace of mind. Yet one cannot imprison a man indefinitely because he is admired and loved; nor presumably maintain in office a government if it is unable to make itself either.”

Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah had been arrested for “his political leaning which runs counter to the government of India in Kashmir. ... Sheikh Abdullah was never known for resorting to or even calling for violence; all that he had called for was that the people of Kashmir should be given their just right and that they should not be oppressed” (Al-Zaman, May 7, 1958). Perhaps Nehru had forgotten his categorization of political arrests as criminal, which buttressed the conviction of those struggling for their political freedom.

Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah did not desist from trying to find a solution to the Kashmir conflict, which would be in accordance with “the freedom struggle of Kashmir and the independence movement of the Indian people” (Abdullah, “The Kashmiri Viewpoint,” 41). He sought to find a practical solution to the deadlock that would enable preservation of peace in the Indian subcontinent, while maintaining the honor of everyone concerned, which should be the goal even today.

Nyla Ali Khan is a faculty member at the University of Oklahoma and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network. She is the author of Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), and Parchment of Kashmir: History, Society, and Polity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was her maternal grandfather.

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