Maulana Mohammad Abbas Ansari: Pioneer of Muslim unity and strong proponent of peaceful settlement of Kashmir dispute

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Raies Mir

Founder and chairman of Ittihadul Musilmeen, and senior APHC leader Maulana Mohammad Abbas Ansari (86), passed away after prolonged illness at his residence in Khankhai Subah Nawakadal in Srinagar on October 25, 2022. Thousands attended his funeral and was buried in Babamazaar Zadibal in Srinagar.

The mourners carrying posters and coffin of Kashmir’s veteran leader on the regulated stretch of Old Srinagar were some sentimental schoolboys who raised faint cries of faith and shed tears in silence for the man whose demise was personal to many of them.

Ansari, who was also a noted Islamic scholar, gained his education from the Oriental College, Srinagar. He also went to Najaf, Iraq, for studies where he spent eight years.

Maulana Abbas founded Anjuman-e- Ittehadul Muslimeen after his return from decade-long stay in Iraq in 1962. He rose to a star position during the Moi-Muqaddas movement of Kashmir of the mid sixties.

In 1987 Molvi Abbas became founding convener of Muslim United Front ( MUF) which changed the political landscape of Jammu and Kashmir.

He was the last surviving politician of the Plebiscite Front era. He rose to Kashmir’s political scene during the Holy Relic Movement in December 1963. Ansari remains one of the prominent Kashmiri figures, who advocated Shia-Sunni unity in the valley,

Ansari met Sheikh Abdullah in New Delhi and appealed to him not to sign the Indira-Sheikh Accord and not give up on the Plebiscite Front since many Kashmiris had lost lives between 1947-1974. Sheikh Abdullah signed the accord anyway.

Maulana Mohammad Abbas Ansari appeared on the political scene of Kashmir in December 1963 amidst the Holy Relic Movement when people clandestinely lifted the Holy Relic of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) from Hazratbal Shrine of Srinagar. The “Holy Relic Action Committee” was formed as a response to that incident and Abbas was named coordinator . The group dissolved after the return of the Relic

Along with political leaders including Mohammad Farooq and Sofi Mohammad Akbar, he formed a political party named “Peoples Action Committee” in March 1964 to seek the right of self-determination for the people of Kashmir.

Abbas Ansari opposed holding the state political convention in 1967 and 1968 and staged a walk out from the convention in protest against the policies of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. He was arrested several times in 1965 War under the National Security Act.

During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Abbas again advocated for self-determination for the people of Kashmir was then arrested for demanding and leading people against for Azaadi from Indian hegemony.

After the Indian PM Indira Gandhi-Sheikh Abdullah accord of February 1975, the Plebiscite Front ended and Sheikh Abdullah revived his National Conference. Ansari met Sheikh Abdullah in Kotla Lane, New Delhi and appealed to him to not let down cause of Jihad. He told the Sheikh that Kashmiris had sacrificed a lot from 1947 to 1974 for right to self-determination and their sacrifices could not be exchanged for the Chief Minister ship. Sheikh Abdullah, however, signed the accord with Indira Gandhi and became the Chief Minister of the State. He opposed this accord and described it as unacceptable to the people of the state and reiterated plebiscite. Consequent upon the signing of the accord, Abbas brought all the people of identical ideology on a single political platform and declared creation of Peoples United Front. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, called for a strike on 28 February to protest against the accord.

In a January 1967 letter to Mr. U. Thant, then the Secretary General of the U.N., Abbas requested that the U.N. intervene over Kashmir. In 1974, Abass Ansari called upon the leaders of India, Pakistan and world bodies to join hands in granting Kashmiris their birthright.

The period from 1975 to 1985 witnessed the continuous struggle of Abbas against New Delhi and its government in Kashmir. Abbas Ansari was opposition leader. During this period he always stood for the right of self-determination and launched a campaign against the liquor trade in Kashmir. The Government opposed these activities and Abbas Ansari was again detained and charged with mutiny and conspiracy against the Indian government. His trial occurred in a closed room in the central jail in Srinagar.

In 1986, as Moulana Ansari saw that in the south of Kashmir, Ghulam Rasool Qadri, a local cleric of a religious group, Jamiat e Ahli Hadith led a protest against the stone pelting on Dr. Nisar for leading a protest against the suspension of officials who had refused to fire at the protesters in the wake of a riot like a situation that had emerged as Babri Masjid’s gates were opened for Hindu worshippers.

Within no time, Moulana Abbas Ansari got in touch with Dr. Qazi Nisar and initiated talks and then a series of negotiations with him through Ghulam Rasool Wani. Abbas Ansari in his autobiography, ‘Khar e Gulistan’ speaks of various meetings he held with Dr. Qazi Nisar in south Kashmir Islamabad.

For his advocacy of the political rights of Kashmiris, he was jailed several times in his life under the black laws National Security Act (NSA) and the Public Safety Act (PSA). He spent years behind bars for his relentless political campaign and penned his autobiography—“Khare Gulistan”—as a political prisoner. He has penned scores of books on spiritual aspects of Islam.

Maulana Muhammad Abbas Ansari wasn’t merely a political or spiritual leader, but a luminary whose thrust on education uplifted masses and produced some finest professionals. said Mustafa Ali, a teacher from Budgam

Maulana’s most important role was his foundation of a chain of schools named Madina Public Schools, said a socio-cultural researcher Ilyas Rizvi.“Those schools have illuminated hundreds of candles in those pockets of Kashmir where poverty and backwardness has kept people in darkness,” he said.

“These schools have changed the educational landscape of vast areas of North and Central Kashmir. The contemporary history of Kashmir is incomplete without a chapter on him.”

“The history of Kashmir is incomplete without Maulana Abbas Ansari,” said Imdad Saqi, a senior journalist.

He was one of the members of the Muslim United Front (MUF), an organization that would bring together various factions and would strengthen in Unity.

“Maulana Abbas was the pioneer of Muslim unity in Kashmir who tirelessly worked for the cause of Kashmiri people. He played a crucial role at various stages of Kashmir history in the past six decades and his role in contemporary times has been crucial and important. I feel short of words to describe his stature.”

“Abbas sahib has been a champion of Muslim unity. Despite many ups and downs in his life, he preached the message of Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] and his Ahlulbait [A.S]. His contribution to Kashmir will be remembered for all times to come,” said Maulana Mir Mustafa.

Abbas was arrested on 13 April 1990 under the black law Public Safety Act and lodged in Srinagar’s Badami Bagh cantonment interrogation centre. After a month of interrogation he was put in Jammu central jail from where he was exiled to Jodhpur in western India. From Jodhpur, Abbas Ansari was shifted to the Tihar Prisons, New Delhi and finally to the heavily guarded Mehrolli BSF camp, some 25 kilometers from New Delhi.

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