KASHMIR’S UNSUNG HEROES: Molvi Abd-ur-Rahim Vakil

Molvi Abd-ur-Rahim Vakil had not qualified formally as a cleric but was regarded as such due to his learning and flair, having inherited many qualities, and the title, from his formidable father, Molvi Abdullah Vakil, who had been a deep influence.

Sent to Lucknow for a law degree, Abd-ur-Rahim returned to Kashmir in his first summer vacation after failing the examination, and shortly afterwards was persuaded to join the Reading Room Party of which his brother and cousin were already a part.

He was soon to prove an asset.

When the Party made its move to come into the public, Molvi Abd-ur-Rahim worked hard to make its mass awareness campaign a big success.

He was the first person outside the clerical circle to have dared to address people from the pulpit at the Hazratbal shrine.

Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was the second.

Abd-ur-Rahim’s maiden speech at the shrine, in which he quoted several verses from the Holy Qur’an and translated them into Kashmiri, was received with considerable appreciation.

He was a natural orator, and having heard top Congress leaders speak, more politically aware than his colleagues

His next speech made even a greater impact.

The leadership had been trying to launch its freedom campaign from the Khanaqah-e-Mu’alla and the Jamia Masjid as well. Though the Khanaqah did not prove a problem, entering the Jamia required some hard work.

The leaders approached Ghulam Ahmad Ashai, who somehow persuaded Mirwaiz Yusuf Shah to allow them to address people at the Jamia.

Then on, Abd-ur-Rahim and Sheikh Abdullah were regular speakers at both venues.

Authorities, however, did not stand by and watch unconcerned. Many leaders were arrested, Abd-ur-Rahim among them.

After being freed, he joined the Muslim Conference, and was elected the party’s general secretary at its first annual session.

He also founded its official organ, the Sadaqat, and served as its editor for quite some time.

His bold write-ups and editorials infused new life into the freedom movement

Abd-ur-Rahim later joined government service, a step the leadership, including Sheikh Abdullah, did not like.

But despite this new role, he continued to work for the Kashmir cause.

Later, he migrated to Pakistan and met Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in 1964 when the latter visited the country to seek an amicable solution to the Kashmir problem.

Molvi Abd-ur-Rahim passed away in Abbottabad.