Glimpses of the time that’s gone….Karvan guzar gaya ghoobar dekhtey rahey..
If my memory is not at fault, it was most probably in 1970 -71 during the AMU Student’s Union Tehreek for the preservation of ‘Aqleeyati wa Iqamati Kirdar’ (minority character) of Aligarh Muslim University that I came closer to the top Muslim leadership of India, individually and as a group. The time-lapse of almost 50 years has obfuscated a lot but I can vividly recall that three days gathering was organized at the grounds of ‘Mehendiyan Graveyard’ and Ranjit Hotel (an ITDC venture) near Asif Ali Road, New Delhi.
The student leader late Javed Habeeb Saheb had suggested to Janab Ahsan Rizwi sahib of ‘Radiance’ to include my name in the reception group that was supposed to take care of the personal needs like telephone, telex, transport, press access, and instant tea/coffee needs of the top leadership of Ummah. Some of those leaders were already staying at their state guest houses, top hotels, and Jamaat’s accommodation at Old Delhi. Janab Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah sahib, Ebraheem Suleman Seth sahib, Justice Basheer Ahmad Sayeed sahib, Justice Kalbe Abbas Sahib, Dr. Fareedy sahib, Salahuddin Owaisi sahib, and Yusuf Siddiqui sahib are the few names that were etched on my memory screen. Most of those leaders are departed to heaven and their children are now leading the Muslim Ummah in India.
It was a three days long session. We used to have ‘Darbar Khas’ at the auditorium of Ranjit Hotel where only guests were allowed and ‘Darbar Aam’ was held at the grounds of the graveyard.
One day a group of prominent leaders of the Sikh community and other minorities came to meet Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Saheb. As a member of the hospitality team, I was lucky to hear their discussions. They were all telling Sheikh Saheb that he was the tallest leader among all the leaders of minority committees of India with inimitable clout. They were inviting him to come out of his comfort zone of Kashmir and lead all minorities of India. They insisted that he was the right person at the right place and at the right time to help the Indian minorities in all walks of life. They were assuring him of their full support. Even an immature mind like mine was shocked when Sheikh Sahib politely refused to entertain their appeal. His excuse was – there was a lot of work left to be done in Kashmir. He was preoccupied. With all the sophistication at his command, Sheikh Saheb did let the offer go.
I’m thankful to God that Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah sahib is no more to see what had happened to his Kashmir………………….Naim