First Muslim who Commanded State Unit of RSS

It was from Jammu and Kashmir, the first Muslim in India to join voluntarily Jan Sangh to raise the voice of – Ek Vidhaan, Ek Nishaan Ek Pradhan, against special status accorded to J&K under Article 370, and integrating the state with the rest of the country.

But his presence in Jan Sangh was being noticed bizarre by his rivals within when Sheikh Abdul Rehman was unanimously elected president of state unit of Jan Sangh in 1972.

Sheikh Abdul Rehman, 88 was also elected to assembly in 1972 from Hindu dominating constituency (Jammu North), which used to be represented earlier by Pt. Prem Nath Dogra, staunch Hindu stalwart leader of Dogra Hindus of All Jammu and Kashmir Praja Parishad, founded by RSS. The Rehman's joining Jan Sangh at top position was perhaps not liked by party colleagues who hatched intrigues against him from the very beginning as a result he quit Jan Sangh in 1974. According to him the confrontation with Jan Sangh sparked when he refused to accommodate Prof. Chaman Lal Gupta as General Secretary of Jan Sangh who had lost against Th. Swaran Singh. Of 46 delegates votes Swaran Singh had bagged 36 votes against Prof Chaman Lal Gupta who had only 10.. " I was communicated that Prof Chaman Lal Gupta be declared as successful candidate for the post of General Secretary as its has been decided by the Nagpur HQ" said Rehman. But Rehman refused to obey Nagpur dictum and replied that he has followed the constitution of RSS strictly. On this Nagpur, immediately sent Krishan Lal Sharma In charge-Jammu and Kashmir along with Yagdutt to Jammu and dissolved the state unit of Jan Sangh. Rehman refused to accept the decision because onlythe All India Working committee or the Executive committee are vested with the powers constitutionally to dissolve the unit . Later on, in a working committee meeting in Delhi, Rehmanarguments were taken well by Baldev Prakash, Mangal Sen and others in first half of the meeting,headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee the then Vice President. But surprisingly,in second half all the working committee members who had favoured Rehman's argumentssupported the decision of dissolution of state unit. It was humiliation for Rehman and he walked out of the meeting in protest. And later resigned from Jan Sangh in 1974

According to Rehman, witness to partition, the wave of communal frenzy in 1947 spread up to his home town Bhadarwah, but Doda Kishtwar remained safe. Of 96 Sheikh Clan 13 of Abdul Rehman's family members were killed only three survived - his uncle late Abdul Aziz Sheikh and younger brother Ghulam Mustafa. Rehman himself had received injuries on his arms but he pretended as dead along the bodies. His younger brother survived unhurt because he was ducked by his mother. The circumstances pushed Rehmanto darkness with no means of livelihood to survive and he had to drop his education at class 10.

The wounds of communal riots were still green for Rehman when a new page in his life turned. He was contacted by an esteemed advocate Swamiraj Kotwal from his town who convinced him that he should forget past and look at for future. Kotwal was in process of forming Praja Prashid unit in Bhadarwah and Rehman was the first Muslim to join Praja Parishid in 1949 as in-charge of Doda unit. It was thefirst Muslim voice of Rehmanto annex Jammu and Kashmir with India. Rehman's inspiring speeches were being widely covered by media. In 1954 Pt. Prem Nath Dogra on his first visit to Doda noticed Rehman's fiery speeches in Doda, Bhadwah and Kishtwar public gatherings . Pt Dogra picked him an d Rehman was given the post of state secretary of Praja Parishid (PP) and executive member of the organization in 1954. It was the time when luck turned in Rehman's favour and in 1963 PP merged with Jan Sangh.

After his resignation from Jan Sangh Rehman joined Lok Dal In 1974 and Ch. Charan Singh, appointed him state unit President of Jammu and Kashmir and a member of national working committee. During 1975 emergency Rehman played a vital role and remained in touch with national political who were lodged in different jails of the country by Mrs Indira Gandhi. In 1978 Rehman was elected Raja Sabha member on Lok Dal ticket from UP till 1984. During this period Kanshi Ram approached him with the proposal that minorities, schedule castes and backward class needed a political party who could fight for their rights. In 1990 Rehman joined BSP. But tragedy in life with Sheikh Abdul Rehmanwas that whichever party he had joined was welcomed with open arms but respective party men would feel jealous for his being importance.

When asked to revive his relationship with BJP, Rehman categorically denied saying that the present set up is playing in the hands of corporate and communalism is shield for their political survival. While predicting the near future of India purely of his political experience Rehman said " if both the countries fail to change their policies towards peace and development, they would be heading towards balkanizations


More by :  R C Ganjoo

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