KASHMIR’S UNSUNG HEROES: Muhammad Ismail Sagar – I

Sagar means ocean in Hindi. Oceans hold many mysteries in their bosom. And when they are calm, they are taken for granted, but when they begin to rage, havoc is round the corner.

Muhammad Ismail of Maharaja Bazar was a keen listener. He would not lose his calm over trivial issues, but when he chose to speak, he was never ignored.

It was he who drafted the welcome address when Muhammad Ali Jinnah visited Kashmir. The beauty and substance of the speech made a deep impression on the Quaid-e-Azam who conferred the appellation ‘Sagar’ on the writer.

Muhammad Ismail was a staunch believer in the Two-Nation Theory and strove hard to make Kashmir a part of Pakistan.

He believed that geographically, historically and culturally, Kashmir was best suited to become a part of Pakistan.

Among the first in Kashmir to have raised the slogan of “Pakistan Zindabad,”  Sagar was imprisoned several times for his political activities, and spent as many as eight years in various jails.

Born into a well-off family in the Maharaja Bazaar area of Srinagar, he had lost his father when very young and suddenly become the lone bread-winner of the family.

He opened a shop in his own locality to provide for his mother, sister and younger brother, but his business did not deter him from taking active part in Kashmir’s liberation movement.

He would attend political rallies and functions even as a boy, and later became an important member of the Muslim Conference.

A voracious reader, he would be constantly poring over books and scanning newspapers, a pursuit that made him one of the best political analysts of his times.

He did not like the Congress–Sheikh nexus and voiced his concern time and again. Finally, when the National Conference came into existence in 1939, he withdrew from political activity for some time, but came into the limelight once again when the Muslim Conference was revived.

-to be continued