Parties flay move to replace Sheikh Abdullah’s image on Jammu and Kashmir police medals
: Two years after renaming Jammu and Kashmir’s police medal for gallantry and meritorious service, the government removed the image of the National Conference (NC) founder and former prime minister of J&K, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah from the medal.
The government in January 2020 had removed the word ‘Sher-i-Kashmir’ or ‘Lion of Kashmir’, a reference to Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, from the name of the union territory’s prestigious award.
The latest move has triggered harsh reactions from NC leaders and supporters starting the hashtag ‘#ShereKashmirLivesOn’ on social media.
On Monday, the J&K administration issued an order replacing Abdullah’s image embossed on one side of the police medal for gallantry and meritorious service with the national emblem.
“It is hereby ordered that in modification to the Para 4 of the Jammu & Kashmir Police Medal Scheme, the Sher-i-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah embossed on one side of the medal shall be replaced with ‘The National Emblem of Government of India’,” said an order by the additional chief secretary and principal secretary, home department, RK Goyal.
The other side of the medial inscribed with the J&K state emblem will now be inscribed as “Jammu and Kashmir Police Medal for Gallantry” and “Jammu and Kashmir Police Medal for Meritorious Service” in case of gallantry or meritorious medal, as the case may be.
The move comes almost three years after the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 was revoked and the state bifurcated and downgraded into two union territories.
In January 2020, the government had ordered to replace ‘Sher-i-Kashmir Police Medal for Gallantry and Sher-i-Kashmir police medal for meritorious service’ appearing in the government orders from time to time as ‘Jammu and Kashmir police medal for gallantry and Jammu and Kashmir police medal for meritorious service’.
Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, father of NC president Farooq Abdullah and grandfather of Omar Abdullah, is considered by many the ‘tallest leader’ among the mainstream politicians of Kashmir.
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said that Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah took the bold decision of bringing J&K with the country when the two-nation theory was prevalent.
She said that removing his name or image from the award reflects poorly on the people doing this. “He was such a person who has played an important role in J&K’s history. He served the people of J&K for years and brought good laws here and has a greater role in bringing J&K with the country. And now after 70 years if someone wants to remove his identity what can be said of those persons. It is their mental bankruptcy, nothing else. Sheikh sab won’t be affected. They should have thought that Sheikh sab took the bold decision of joining India being a secular country rather than Pakistan when the two-nation theory was prevalent,” she said.
Chief spokesperson of NC, Tanvir Sadiq said that a prefix can be erased but an idea lives on.
“As John F Kennedy said, ‘A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on. Ideas have endurance without death. Sher-e-Kashmir is not just a prefix that you can erase. Sher-e-Kashmir was, is and will always be the only Sher-e-Kashmir,” he said in a tweet.
CPI(M) leader and spokesperson of the amalgam of J&K’s major political parties, People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, MY Tarigami said that Abdullah’s contributions can’t be erased from history.
“BJP’s Panglossian view of rewriting the history by name-changing may favour their narrow communal agenda but it cannot absolve its complicity from annals. You cannot erase the contributions and historical significance of Sher-i-Kashmir by petty name changing gimmicks,” he said.
Faisal Bhat, youth NC leader from Budgam, said: “Sher-e-Kashmir was the man of the masses, the tallest leader ever in the history of J&K. He fought for the identity and dignity of the people of J&K his entire life. He will forever live in our hearts as our Hero. Erasing his name won’t change history.
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