The Jammu and Kashmir government has no official record as to who is ‘Sher-e-Kashmir’, a title popularly associated with founder of the National Conference Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, a government response to an RTI application has revealed.
The revelation – made by the general administration department of the state government in response to the RTI – has surprised sections of society because of the common knowledge that the title belonged to the renowned politician and statesman.
On October 6, Jammu-based activist Deepak Sharma had filed an RTI with the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Governor’s secretariat seeking information regarding the title ‘Sher –e-Kashmir’ – if it was conferred upon by government to any person in the state.
He had also asked for the name of the person, if any, who was ever conferred with the title.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Sharma said that he filed the RTI because he wanted to know who ‘Sher-e-Kashmir’ was officially.
“There are so many institutes and establishments by the name of Sher-e-Kashmir – there are universities, bridges, conference halls, police training institutes and several other public buildings and schemes,” said Sharma.
He added: “In some of the names, Sheikh Abdullah’s name is attached, but in many cases it’s only Sher-e-Kashmir. I just wanted to know who is this Sher-e-Kashmir officialy,” said Sharma.
The RTI application was transferred to the PIO of the general administration department, who informed Sharma on October 20 that there is no information available on the records of the department on the query.
Sharma made the response public on Friday, the eve of the 110th birth anniversary of Sheikh Abdullah. He called the timing a co-incidence, caused by the misplacement of the response.
“The outcome has left me completely surprised. The title has been used for so many years and yet, according to the response, there is no formal official record,” he added.
On Saturday, when former chief minister and grandson of Sheikh Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, was asked about the RTI response, he said that the National Conference founder was not only the tallest leader of the state but was revered in the entire country.
“No one can have differences with the economic contribution of Sheikh Sahab even though they may differ with his politics. Jammu and Kashmir today has the least poverty and it is only because of these two steps taken by him,” Omar was quoted as saying by PTI.