KASHMIR’S UNSUNG HEROES: Khwaja Abdul Ghani Renthoo

From a well-off Nawa Kadal family, Abdul Ghani had studied law in England when few in Kashmir passed school. His father, Haji Sanaullah Renthoo, had been particular in giving him a sound education.

On returning, he gave up the prospect of a highly successful career and, instead of joining the Bar, chose to work for the people of Kashmir whose plight had left him shaken.

He had been greatly influenced by Iqbal’s Baang-e-Dara, and would go from one locality to another to make people understand its message.

An excellent footballer himself, he would often be seen among fellow sportsmen at the Eidgah grounds, talking Iqbal and his ideas.

Despite stiff family opposition, he took the decisive – and harsh – step of joining the Muslim Conference, and earned the wrath of authorities.

He was arrested, tortured, and finally sent to the Central Jail in Srinagar for quite some time.

Later, he and his wife were deported.         .

According to his family, Renthoo and Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas were pushed into Pakistan territory together.

But prior to that, he had had an encounter with Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.

“You have pushed Kashmiris to the wall,” Renthoo, according to his family, told the Sheikh.  “A time will come when Kashmiris will take up arms to achieve their rights.”

Even in Pakistan, Renthoo opted not to join the legal profession, despite the status and recognition it brought, and stuck to his commitment to liberate Kashmir, often helping fellow Kashmiris with legal counsel.

He also declined a berth in the Azad Kashmir cabinet.

The family made ends meet through a school Renthoo’s wife had opened in Abbottabad. She never complained about their hardships, and stood by her husband and the Kashmir cause throughout his life.

Renthoo visited his native land only once – when Sheikh Abdullah ruled the State as Chief Minister.

When he arrived in Srinagar, the streets were near-empty as people had been told to stay indoors because of a solar eclipse.

He boarded an auto-rickshaw and headed for the Jamalatta home he had been forced to leave decades ago.

When he saw his brother, they fell into each other’s arms and wept bitterly.

The stay was all too brief – just five days..

But before leaving, he met Sheikh Abdullah.

No one knows what they talked about.

Abdul Ghani Renthoo passed away in Abbottabad in 1986.  He is survived by a son and daughter.

His elder son passed away a few years ago.