In the annals of history, nations and peoples are often blessed with leaders, guides and activists who play singular roles providing leadership that transcends inspiration and casts a lasting impact on these societies. The people Kashmir were blessed with such leaders and guides in the form of Mirwaiz Muhammad Farooq & Khawaja Abdul Gani Lone.
May 21 will remain embedded in the history of Kashmir and in the hearts and minds of Kashmiris as the day of supreme sacrifice. It was on this day in 1990 and 2002; Mirwaiz Sahib and Lone Sahib were assassinated respectively.
Besides being a leader of the people, Mirwaiz Sahib was equally a religious guide, spiritual leader (Mirwaiz) and Imam of the Grand Mosque of Kashmir, Jamia Masjid.
Lone Sahib was a great personality blessed with great talents, not only as a politician but as a deep thinker. We can best honor their martyrdom by continuing to carry the flag of Kashmiri right to self-determination without fear and fatigue.
Both these leaders were imprisoned scores of times for the sole “crime” of speaking out the truth, never compromising their principles and calling for justice.
The nation of Kashmir is honored to pay homage to these giants who gave that last full measure of devotion in unflagging pursuit of a just and noble cause.
When in 1990 the winds of change blew across the world, destroying dictatorships and occupations, the people of Kashmir also renewed their struggle. It was people like Mirwaiz Sahib & Lone Sahib who not only rekindled the issue afresh but also gave it new vigor and meaning.
Both these leaders were a talented and articulate statesman who were assassinated for their leadership role in educating their people in their struggle for self‑determination. They reminded the world about the pledge that was agreed upon by India and Pakistan, championed by the democratic powers, including the United States and endorsed by the UN Security Council – the pledge of right to self-determination.
I had the good fortune of having a detailed meeting with the late Mirwaiz Sahib in 1980. But had the honor of meeting Lone Sahib on multiple occasions during his visit to Washington, D.C. for medical purposes. We discussed the issues of mutual concern and more importantly the ways for the resolution of the Kashmir issue. I could discern within both these leaders, a selfless desire to serve and emancipate their people from under the Indian occupation.
By far the most vivid recollection I have of Lone Sahib was his speech at the United Nations during an OIC – Foreign Minister Annual Meeting on September 27, 1999. The participants were fascinated by his presentation.
Lone Sahib said, “I am grateful for the opportunity to address the Organization of the Islamic Conference as the voice of the All Parties Hurriyet Conference, the genuine embodiment of the aspirations of the Kashmiri people, every bit as much as Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress represented the silenced majority of the South African people during the long years of apartheid.” He added, “Indeed, to speak of humanitarian tragedies and injustice without mentioning Kashmir is like reciting the Holocaust without mentioning Auschwitz or the Palestinian‑Israeli cruelties without mentioning Shaba and Shatila refugee camp slaughters.”
Lone Sahib shock the conscience of the OIC leadership by asking: “Is the lesson of Kashmir to be that a nuclear power with an attractive economic market can defy international law, human rights, and morality with impunity? What would that do to the cause of non‑proliferation? What would that do for the cause of humanity? What would that do for securing adherence to the international norms, universal values and above all to the United Nations Security Council resolutions?”
The people of Kashmir will never forget the selfless contribution and the tireless efforts of these martyrs. Their efforts will remain forever a milestone in the history of the freedom struggle of Kashmir.
If we remain true to the lofty vision of Mirwaiz Sahib & Lone Sahib, steadfast in the unity and leadership of the political resistance, and unstinting in personal sacrifice, then Kashmiri right to self-determination will trump occupation and subjugation in our lifetime. That is the goal of every single Kashmir soul. May we accomplish that in our lifetime!
Meanwhile, let us all rededicate ourselves to the vision of our martyrs and continue our struggle in unity with full faith in Allah to whom belongs victory and defeat, success and failure.