The National Conference on Saturday sought review of the Jammu and Kashmir government’s decision to drop Sheikh’s Mohammad Abdullah’s birth anniversary from the list of the Union Territory’s official holiday calendar of 2020.
The party said the contribution of Abdullah in the democratic awakening of his people cannot be undermined, as it stands “acclaimed nationally and internationally.”
“Sheikh Sahib was a visionary mass leader and statesman who rejected two-nation theory of Mohammed Ali Jinnah over secularism of the Father of Nation Mahatma Gandhi”, Provincial President of the NC, Devender Singh Rana, said addressing a press conference at Sher-e-Kashmir Bhavan in Jammu.
He was flanked by senior party leaders including former ministers Ajay Kumar Sadhotra and Surjeet Singh Slathia besides Rattan Lal Gupta, Th Rachpal Singh, Babu Ram Pal and Trilochan Singh Wazir.
Rana said the towering personality of Sher-e-Kashmir cannot be confined in the myopic prism of regional politics, as he fought for democracy when the entire nation was struggling to break the shackles of British under Mahatma Gandhi. Being contemporary of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, Frontier Gandhi Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Maualana Abul Kalam Azad and many other national leaders, Sheikh Sahib fought for the marginalized people of Jammu and Kashmir, irrespective of region, religion, caste or creed. His exemplary role during the horrendous days of Partition was acknowledged by the suffering masses of the entire sub-continent which got reflection in the sentiments of the Mahatma, who had observed ‘light of ray emanated from the soil of Kashmir’, he added.
Enumerating the observations of luminaries like former President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy about inspiring leadership of Sher-e-Kashmir, describing him as Sher-e-Bharat, the Provincial President said similar sentiments echoed again in the December 1990 Monograph of Lok Sabha Secretariat with eminent parliamentarians of the era sharing their sentiments about political philosophy of Sheikh Sahib in voluminous compendium. He quoted Pt Jawaharlal Nehru saying, Sheikh Abdullah is Jammu and Kashmir and Jammu and Kashmir is Sheikh Abdullah. Similarly, Atal Behari Vajpayee described Sher-e-Kashmir as identity of J&K while L K Advani said, “For decades, Kashmir’s politics has come to be identified with the personality of the Sheikh”.
“The generations of parliamentarians and politicians should browse the documentation of veterans of independent India about front ranking leaders of the country and show their respect towards them”, Rana said, adding this will raise their stature instead of rendering them political dwarfs in the chequred political history of India. He also referred to the pioneering role of Sheikh Sahib in introducing Land Reforms Act, one of the most progressive legislations of independent India, devolution of power under Single Line Administration and empowerment of Panchayati Raj System. He said Sheikh Sahib was man of the era, who inspired compatriots for his unflinching faith in democracy and secularism.
“Secularism was not just a concept but way of life and political philosophy for him, which he lived in 1947 by protecting the people of his land and thereafter till his death”, Rana added.
To a question, the Provincial President said that while National Conference expects political sagacity to prevail upon those at the helm by reviewing the decision about birth anniversary of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, it firmly believes that nothing can undermine the persona of Sher-e-Kashmir, who lives in the hearts of millions in and outside Jammu and Kashmir. Sheikh Sahib was a mass leader and his contribution will continue to inspire the generations, he said, adding that no historian can afford to ignore him while penning the history of Jammu and Kashmir.
Rana said that inept decision of the government will not demoralize the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who are feeling themselves at edge, but instead firm up their resolve to live up to the political philosophy bequeathed by the leader of the era. He said his cherished message of peace, harmony, and inclusiveness will continue to guide the generations to work towards making Jammu and Kashmir a better place to live in.
To volley of questions over the measures taken during the past few months including continued detention of mainstream leaders including Dr Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, the Provincial President hoped for end to the stalemate, saying the Centre should reach out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in a big way, keeping in view the enormity of alienation. He also called for relaunching genuine political activity and release of all mainstream leaders including the three former chief ministers.
Prominent among those present in the press conference included Dr Chaman Lal, Dharamveer Singh Jamwal, Vijay Lochan and Abdul Gani Teli.