Sofi Akbar who resisted Sheikh Abdullah: key facts

Sofi Mohammad Akbar, a prominent pr-freedom leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Plebiscite Front—launched while Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah remained imprisoned by the Indian government– opposed the accord between Sheikh and Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi. After the accord, Sofi visited Pakistan in 1977 and floated the Mahaz-e-Azaadi (Freedom Front) to take up the Kashmir issue with a pro-Pakistan line. Akbar passed away, on this day, twenty eight years ago. In Kashmir’s history he is chronicled as the man who resisted Sheikh when very few stood up to him. 

Here are some facts about the anti-India leader, who packed his bags from the National Conference office, after the accord was signed.

Azam Inqalabi, the incumbent chief of Independence Front, notes: ‘This is betrayal, abject capitulation and traitorous act’, this is how Sofi Muhammad Akbar, the 85-year-old resistance veteran, reacted while commenting on the episode of dissolution and disbandment of Plebiscite Front and revival of National Conference on July 5, 1975 by Sheikh Abdullah, Mirza Afzal Beigh and other leaders.

Akbar was born in Sopore in 1889 and his father died in his early age. He was taken care of by his brother Mohammad Abdullah Sofi and completed his basic studies in his native school. For a short time, he also worked as a school teacher but his urge for literature made him to seek knowledge by all means through books of religion and politics which gave him a wide range of understanding of socio-cultural and political matters of Kashmir.

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In 1931, when Kashmir political resistance against the autocratic rulers was on boil, Akbar joined the fray with the cadres of Reading Room Party and as a result of his activities he was arrested and jailed for five months in addition of fine. Again in 1934 he was arrested and fined in addition of spending six months in jail. He did not stop to organize and mobiles the new generation to launch a concerted movement against the autocratic ruler. In 1938 he was re-arrested and was sent to Muzaffarabad Jail where he spent fourteen months.

When in 1939, Muslim Conference was changed into National Conference, Sofi Akbar opposed the decision and resigned in protest but his resignation was not accepted. In 1946, when “Quit Kashmir Movement” began, he spent eighteen months in jail.

On August 9, 1953, Sheikh Abdullah, the then Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was dethroned and arrested by Indian government for his ostensible pro-Kashmir stance. Sheikh and his colleagues including Akbar remained in jail for over a decade. Eventually Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian premier, released them and asked Sheikh to visit Pakistan to persuade General Ayub Khan, Pakistan President, for a tripartite discourse on Kashmir. Sheikh was engaged in political activities in Pakistan when Nehru breathed his last on May 27, 1964.

Akbar had spent about eighteen years in prisons and torture centres, intermittently, during 44 years (from 1931 to 1975). After the 1975 accord, he bid adieu to Mujahid Manzil and remained confined to a room in his dilapidated house at Sopore for meditation and introspection.

In May, 1976, Mohammad Maqbool Butt, the National Liberation Front supremo, after his second repatriation, called on Akbar and discussed the various aspects of Kashmir freedom struggle. The 86-year-old 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 New Delhi and their protégé in Srinagar in the backdrop of Indira-Abdullah accord.

“O Allah, make my freedom efforts instrumental in the accomplishment of the objective of Azaadi; 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.