Home Politics India Sheikh Abdullah, favoured by Jawaharlal Nehru, no longer on police medal

Sheikh Abdullah, favoured by Jawaharlal Nehru, no longer on police medal

While Sheikh Abdullah opposed MA Jinnah's two-nation theory, he practised a similar politics of naming a party after Muslims and yet claiming it was not communal

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Sheikh Abdullah, who led Kashmir towards India, dropped from police medal

Jammu and Kashmir’s police medal for gallantry and meritorious services will no longer have an embossed image of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, whose family Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh under Sonia Gandhi’s dictation considered critical to patch up with Kashmiri Muslims to keep the territory with India. The government has decided to replace the picture with the national emblem.

Named after the the title of Sheikh Abdullah, “Sher-i-Kashmir”, the medal has been renamed as the Jammu and Kashmir Medal.

The move has expectedly drawn sharp criticism from regional parties, the National Conference — the outfit that Sheikh Abdullah founded, and even their long-time rival, the Peoples’ Democratic Party or PDP.

Architect of the Naya Kashmir doctrine that heralded the transformation of the territory from a princely state to a state with privileged autonomy, Sheikh Abdullah agitated against the rule of the Maharaja Hari Singh. He served as the first elected Prime Minister of the Princely State of and was later jailed and exiled. He was dismissed from the position of prime minister on 8 August 1953 and Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was appointed as the new prime minister. The expressions ‘sadar-i-riyasat’ and ‘prime minister’ were replaced with the terms ‘governor’ and ‘chief minister’ in 1965.

Sheikh Abdullah again became the Chief Minister of the state following the 1974 Indira-Sheikh accord and remained in the top slot till his death on 8 September 1982.

The order to replace the the embossed picture of Sheikh Abdullah was issued by Home Department.

“Sher-i-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah embossed on one side of the medal shall be replaced with the National Emblem of Government of India and other side inscribed with the J&K State Emblem shall be inscribed as Jammu and Kashmir,” read the order.

Sheikh Abdullah has been the symbol of Kashmir’s accession to the Union of India and is credited with driving tribal raiders out with the help of his volunteers – women and men – who fought Pakistani raiders and foiled their attempt to capture Kashmir in October 1947.

While Sheikh Abdullah opposed Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s two-nation theory of dividing India on the lines of religion, his politics bore a resemblance with Jinnah’s as he made a party named after Muslims but claimed it was not communal. Kashmir’s first political party, the Kashmir Muslim Conference, with Sheikh Abdullah as president, Chaudhary Ghulam Abbas as general secretary, and Molvi Abdul Rahim as secretary was formed on 16 October 1932. In his presidential address, Sheikh Abdullah categorically stated that the Muslim Conference had come into existence to struggle for the rights of all oppressed sections of the society and not Muslims alone. It was not a party and would struggle for the rights of the oppressed, whether Hindu, Muslim or Sikh, with the same fervor. He reasserted that the struggle of Kashmiris was not a communal struggle.

Political parties in said that removing the the picture of Sheikh Abdullah and renaming the medal will not erase his contributions and historical significance.

“BJP’s Panglossian view of rewriting the history by name-changing may favour their narrow agenda, but it cannot absolve its complicity from annals. You cannot erase the contributions and historical significance of Sher-i-Kashmir by petty name changing gimmicks,” tweeted Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM).

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