When Sofi Akbar gazed at Ka’ba

“This is betrayal, abject capitulation and traitorous act”, this is how Sofi Muhammad Akbar, the 85-year-old resistance veteran and doyen, reacted while commenting on the tragic episode of dissolution and disbandment of Plebiscite Front and revival of National Conference on July 5, 1975 by Sheikh M. Abdullah, Mirza M. Afzal Beigh and other defeatist leaders. Advocate Gh. Nabi Hagroo and advocate Ab. Rasheed Shah, the PF leaders, were equally vocal in condemning the episode. Sofi Muhammad Akbar, the political hermit, was an ideal ambivert who used to remain engrossed in metaphysical exercise to develop communion with Allah in jails and assert as a high profile resistance leader whenever he would get a chance to address a rally of freedom zealots and activists in the towns and villages of Kashmir. Sofi Akbar, the committed adherent of Kashmir freedom movement, was arrested several times by Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh. He remained languishing in jails for about four years, intermittently, during the Dogra rule. On August 9, 1953 Sheikh M. Abdullah, the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was dethroned and arrested by Indian government for his ostensible Pro-Kashmir stance. Sheikh Abdullah and his colleagues including Sofi Akbar and Mirza Afzal Beigh remained languishing in jail for over a decade. Eventually Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian Premier, while expressing remorse and compunction, tried to make amends for his follies. He released Sheikh Abdullah and his colleagues from jail and asked Sheikh to visit Pakistan to co-opt General Ayub Khan, Pak President, for a tripartite discourse on Kashmir. Sheikh Abdullah was engaged in political activities in Pakistan when Pt. Nehru breathed his last on May 27, 1964. Pt. Nehru was eagerly awaiting General Ayub. Nehru wanted to seek a peaceful and practicable settlement of Kashmir issue.
Emergence of Bangladesh as a sovereign country in 1971 Indo-Pak war turned out to be blessing in disguise for the adept and deft military strategists of Pakistan. East Pakistan, the post – 1971 geo-political developments in the vicinity of Pakistan testify, was strategically a liability and not an asset for Pakistan. General Zia-ul-Haq, the ideal strategist, provided a defence shield to Pakistan by fortifying the armed resistance of Afghan Mujahedeen during Soviet intervention in December 1979. The 10-year protracted guerrilla war eventually culminated in the dismemberment of Soviet Union and emergence of five Muslim states as sovereign countries in central Asia. Gen. Pervez Musharraf, like his predecessor strategist Zia-ul-Haq, adroitly facilitated the entrenchment US and NATO forces in Afghanistan when 9/11 episode invited the wrath of USA and its NATO allies. So Bangladesh guaranteed the decisive defence manoeuvre of Pakistan on Afghan front during the past 34 years. The defeatism and escapism of Plebiscite Front leaders could not allow them to visualize all that followed the 1971 Indo-Pak war. So their surrender and capitulation was unwarranted and unjustified. Pakistan, after the segregation of East Pakistan, found itself literally liberated from the shackles and fetters of strategic restraint in defence manoeuvre on its northern front.

Intuitive comprehension, political acumen and stoicism of prudent and prescient Sofi Akbar sustained his hope and optimism when his contemporary demoralized leaders were seeking an excuse to skulk, funk and flit. Shimla Agreement of July 2, 1972 added to the defeatist disposition and proclivity of these vacillating and wavering myopes. Sofi Akbar had unflinching faith in God Almighty. He had reposed trust in Him. Sofi Sahab had spent about eighteen years in prisons and torture centres, intermittently, during 44 years (from 1931 to 1975). He would remain glued to the Holy Qur’an in moments of solitude in prison cells. And Qur’an taught him to remain steadfast in the path of resistance at all costs. Sofi Saheb, as a lover of the doctrine of “tow’batan nasooh” (absolute penance and expiation), found it quintessentially imperative and obligatory for himself to assert as a committed freedom veteran to give a rebuff and rebuttal to Sheikh Abdullah and his acquiescent coterie. Thus he vehemently and vociferously rejected and denounced the Indira-Abdullah accord of 1974 and the subsequent treacherous and traitorous act of dissolution of Plebiscite Front on July 5, 1975. He said adieu to Mujahid Manzil for good and remained confined to a room in his dilapidated house at Sopore for meditation and introspection. In May 1976 Maqbool Butt, the NLF supremo, after his second repatriation, called on Sofi Akbar and discussed the various aspects of Kashmir freedom struggle. The 86-year-old resistance veteran Sofi Akbar discerned an ideal versatile revolutionary in Maqbool Butt, the guerrilla strategist who, at the age of 40, could prophesy how challenging and exacting the situation would be to take on the Delhi liege lords and their prot?g? in Srinagar in the backdrop of Indira-Abdullah accord of 1974 and Shimla Agreement of 1972.

Arrest of Maqbool Butt and his proud colleagues Hameed and Riyaz on June 7, 1976 created a void. Sofi Muhammad Akbar, in the new daunting emergent situation, felt traumatized and anguished. The awe-inspiring situation coaxed and cajoled the Al-Fatah leaders including late Gh. Rasool Zehgeer, Advocate Basheer Ahmad Butt (present JKLF senior stalwart) and Maqbool Malik (martyr) to interact with Sofi Akbar; and a strategy to checkmate the onslaught of India in Kashmir was discussed and perused ingeniously. India, the constrictor, was engaged in a nefarious game plan to contrive imperialistic modes of repression aimed at breaking the will of Kashmiris to resist. In such a situation, therefore, Sofi Muhammad Akbar, as a resolute resistance veteran, decided to launch JK Mahaz-e-Azadi on May 7, 1977.

“O Allah, make my freedom efforts instrumental in the accomplishment of the objective of Azadi; and crown my efforts with success”, this is how Sofi Muhammad Akbar prayed while circumambulating Ka’ba and gazing at its grandeur during the moments of Hajj in 1971. His dream regarding the indefatigable resistance got transmogrified into a reality when his successor Azam Inqilabi, in 1988, resigned as the chief of Mahaz-e-Azadi to spearhead armed resistance under the banner of Operation Balakote, the militant outfit which in 1990-91 became a constituent unit of United Jehad Council of which I was the founder at Muzaffarabad. I, as chief of UJC, tried my utmost to cobble the hearts of Mujahedeen together. Eventually Syed Salah-ud-din, as the more assertive warrior, succeeded to the chair (of UJC chief). I, as a prudent strategist advised my contemporary pro-independence friends like Dr. Ghulam Qadir Wani and Amanullah Khan to deign, stoop and condescend to facilitate the effective role of pro-Pakistan militants in the campaign to checkmate the trends of infighting. And martyrdom of Maqbool Malik on July 30, 1992 at Kothar (Anantnag) provided an incentive to me to do something objectively viable on the political front. Thus I left Pakistan on Oct. 29, 1992 and, after attending and addressing meetings of Kashmiri expatriates in Saudi Arabia for a month, arrived in London on Dec. 12, 1992 to launch Save Kashmir movement. Hurriyat Conference, which was launched on March 8, 1993 under the patronage of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, played a historic role in politicizing the insurgency and uprising of Kashmiri youth when the word politics was an anathema to them. It is true that all the humanists recognize the achievements of Hurriyat Conference, the potent pacifist political resistance force, notwithstanding the unwholesome trends of internal bickering and factionalism. Well, a joint co-ordination committee can suggest means and methods for orchestrating harmonious relations between various factions and groups of the resistance movement. This is what the present situation suggests.

The whole Kashmiri nation feels indebted to late resistance patriarch Sofi Muhammad Akbar for his historic role in guaranteeing the continuity of resistance movement. Sofi Akbar was an embodiment of righteousness, selflessness, probity, piety and patriotic resolve and commitment. He passed away on Dec. 14, 1987 at the age of 98. Almost all the prominent Kashmiri leaders including Syed Ali Geelani Saheb, Mirwaiz Moulvi Farooq Saheb and Abdul Gani Lone Saheb attended the funeral congregation at Sopore. Advocate Bashir Ahmad Butt Saheb and senior Mahaz-e-Azadi activists facilitated the funeral rites. Progeny and posterity will remember Sofi Akbar with love and respect. We pay homage to Sofi Muhammad Akbar for his exemplary and historical role as uncompromising resistance veteran. I, as the successor to Sofi Akbar, had the privilege and honour to receive his Asaa, as the proud bequest, in a condolence meeting in his cottage at Sopore. The Asaa-e-Sofi adorns my scriptorium in Inqilabi Manzil at Nageen. 

Author is Chief-Patron JK Mahaz-e-Azadi
Srinagar, Kashmir. Email: mahazmediacell@gmail.com