‘I dream of tomorrow
When the world will be beautiful!
O how bright the day, how green
Flowers paradisal, earth aching
And dancing fountains of love
in his breast!
The world will be beautitul!
A rare confluence of happy stars!
The world will be beautiful!
These lines are from Comrade Dina Nath Nadim’s poem, “Hope from Tomorrow”. They exude the very essence of the speech that Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah gave while handing over the reigns of the National Conference to Dr Farooq Abdullah on 21st August 1981 in Srinagar.
Giving an impassioned account of his fifty years of life dedicated to public service, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah said, “I have been working; a major part of my life was spent in this struggle. Comrades, these are the times when politics has become a means of achieving personal ambition rather than a way of service to the people. Treachery and trickery and hypocrisy characterise the successful politician today. Things were in sharp contrast in the past when service to the people was thought to be worship of God. I was schooled that way. The fear of God, love for humanity and compassion for the poor are values that are hard to come by. Before we launched our moment for restoration of the rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir, Iqbal at the beginning of this century visited Kashmir, when ignorance, illiteracy and poverty were in every home. He prayed to Allah to ignite the flame of revolution and it was in my lifetime that my mind changed to a fire of sacrifice and struggle envisioned by him. I vowed not to rest until I had realised the dream of ameliorating the plight of my people. My feelings were expressed by the German philosopher, Hermann, who wrote: ‘The spirit of nationalism lies dormant in the soul of man, it dreams of new visions, undergoes emotional upheavals and ultimately bursts forth in the form of revolution.’
“In our struggle we had to go through all the trials and tribulations. We offered great sacrifices and achieved splendid victories. We kept our struggle going at all costs, our morale was high and goals bright. We have no regrets for whatever price we had to pay. My heart is covered with a myriad of scars except those of contrition. I dared all I could, that is the story of the vigour of my youth. I have always accepted the challenges of life. I have used the energy of my people with tender care and devoted the best part of my life for their honour. The aim of our movement will be fulfilled only when we rise above the regional, sectarian and parochial considerations and strive to raise the standard of life of the common man, improve the living standards of the masses and realise the dream of “Naya Kashmir”, which is based on justice, equal opportunity, mutual love ,Communal harmony and respect, where exploitation is banished and justice will prevail; where economic betterment of people is accompanied by spiritual advancement. Such a welfare state is the goal of all our strivings. We have come a long way on that road towards our goal. Now I am entrusting the Presidentship to Dr Farooq, fervently hoping that he will prove himself worthy of fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of our people irrespective of their caste and creed and I pray that Allah will give him the strength and the ability to come up to the expectations of the people. In 1930 Pandit Motilal Nehru, while handing over the Presidentship of the Indian National Congress to Jawaharlal Nehru, his son, said: What the father leaves unfinished could be accomplished by the son.”
Sheikh’s impassioned speech was a synoptic reinforcement of Hafiz Sherazi’s verses from The Gulistan: “Human beings are parts of each other, in creation are indeed of one essence. If one part is afflicted with pain, other parts uneasy will remain. If you have no sympathy for human pain, the name of human you cannot retain.”
—The writer is a PhD scholar at Kashmir University