Rejoicing On Their Fathers' Legacies In Kashmir

On Father’s Day here we write about some Kashmiri political leaders who have inherited de-facto political legacies of their fathers and are likely to pass it to their children.

PAGD meeting

On that February in 2017, Srinagar’s markets wore a deserted look. Security had been beefed up. It was to thwart separatists call for shutdown and processions to demand mortal remains of JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat and Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru.

At his home on the banks of Nigeen lake in Srinagar, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had been barred to lead a protest march on that February morning. Aghast Mirwaiz, he that day was cornered to his mansion by security forces. Later in the evening, anxiety again struck Mirwaiz mansion at Nigeen. Mirwaiz’s US-born-and-brought-up wife Sheeba Masoodi was in labor. Amidst the shutdown call issued by the separatists including Mirwaiz on that day, his wife Sheeba had been shifted to a private maternity hospital in Srinagar’s uptown area—Rajbagh. 

That night jubilations arrived at Mirwaiz’s Nigeen mansion. He was blessed with a baby boy. Mirwaiz was already a father to two daughters—Maryam and Zainab.

The heir apparent to the influential pulpit of Mirwaiz had arrived, the institution which for now is headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. The Mirwaiz (head priest) is the 18th century institution of Kashmir which is presided over in Srinagar’s grand mosque—Jamia Masjid. On that cold February evening, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s son, who could be the 15th Mirwaiz of the clan had been born.

Decades back the death of Maulvi Farooq’s assassination had led his then-teenage son Umar Farooq to ascend the chair of head priest Mirwaiz. He was also subsequently made head of his father’s socio-politico organisation Awami Action Committee (AAC). Umar, like his father, became Mirwaiz in May 1991. He was just 17-years-old then and a student at Srinagar’s Christian missionary Burn Hall School. The politics of his father Maulvi Farooq didn’t appease teenaged Umar then. He wanted to be a computer engineer. His father’s politics however landed him to be a part of Kashmir imbroglio and become Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.  

Sheikh Clan:

There is also a clan in Kashmir, whose imprint is embedded in Kashmir’s history and will continue to be in future. The clan which is on the opposite end of political spectrum, Sheikh clan is testimony to Kashmir’s history. It has bearing on Kashmir’s landscape politically. It has shaped Kashmir’s past and continues to have a bearing on its future.

Sheikh clan which begins with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. It is the name which has admirers in Kashmir and also loathers in Valley. For some he is Kashmir’s villain, for some he is Kashmir’s “Bab” (Kashmir’s father). For some he is Sher-e-Kashmir (Lion of Kashmir), who had holistic vision for  Kashmir’s “bright future”, for some he is a “traitor” who sold Kashmir’s dreams.

National Conference old guards say how Kashmiris used to revere their “Bab” when he was alive. They also cite example of his funeral in 1982. They say it was a funeral with all Kashmir as mourners. Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah during those times of monarchy in Kashmir had raised voice against oppression. He had spoken for Kashmir. He was jailed for Kashmir. It was when ‘Lion of Kashmir’ roared against the shackles of slavery in the  streets of Kashmir.
However, that for many now is a history. Many now argue that he “envisioned” a “vision” later for his clan only.

For his son Dr Farooq Abdullah. Kashmir’s “prodigal son” Farooq was a funky teenager, a flamboyant youngster, a prankster who even at times became a subject of ridicule. Particularly, at times when he tried to intervene during his father Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s rallies. An old NC guard recalls how Farooq as a young man suddenly took the microphone during his father’s rally. The crowd he said was all laughing when Farooq said: “Allah hu Akbar” instead of “Narai Taqbeer”. The slogan actually is “Narai Taqbeer Allah hu Akbar”. 

Farooq as veteran editor Aditya Sinha writes is least interest in reading, since it “pains his eyes”. His eyes are instead used to witness glitz and glamour. His love for Bollywood is known. His opponents in Kashmir always used to mock Farooq to how he rode Bollywood actress Shabana Azmi to Gulmarg on the day, when his government was allegedly toppled by Congress through his brother-in-law Ghulam Mohammad Shah, popularly known as Gul Shah or “Gulee curfew”, the name Kashmiris gave him for putting Valley under reeling curfew for days together under his rule.  

It is said that Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was against Farooq landing in politics. However, situation in Kashmir is tailored in a way that a carpenter is made to do the job of a painter. Unlike his father Farooq was never jailed except for the time when post 5 August 2019, he was jailed at his posh Gupkar residence in Srinagar under Public Safety Act(PSA), a law that his father SM Abdullah had enacted in 1978 as CM.  

Farooq has also been Kashmir’s CM during tumultuous times. Be it 1989, when militancy erupted in Kashmir or 1996 when there weren’t many hands to hold Tricolor in Kashmir. Many believe it was Farooq whose party NC suffered setback in the form of killings during 90’s ensured elections are held in Kashmir. 

Nowadays, aged Farooq seems a changed person. His post 5 August 2019 speeches seem a more of a sermon. His demeanor now seems of a cleric rather than a politician at the fag end of his career. 

Unlike Farooq his son Omar Abdullah seems to be a sorted man. A Scotland returned Omar with degree in business administration, Omar became a Chief Minister of J&K in 2008. Earlier, he entered into politics after becoming Srinagar MP and subsequently landing a ministerial berth in then Atal Bihari Vajpayee led BJP government in 1998. 

Omar is not an extrovert like his father. However, in 2009 when Mehbooba Mufti accused Omar of involved in 2006 infamous sex scandal. It made Omar emotional while tears were seen trickling from his eyes inside J&K State Assembly complex. There were also talks that he will resign as CM. However, it was again Farooq who flew all the way from South Africa to pacify his son against the decision.

During Omar’s tenure, Kashmir witnessed sporadic protests in 2008, 2009 and 2010-11. Omar’s personnel life also was a public debate at times. He got separated from his wife Payal with whom he has got two sons—Zamir and Zahir. 


Omar is a tech-savvy and is active on the micro-blogging site Twitter. Many years ago the former RAW chief AS Dulat compared Farooq and Omar. For him Farooq is a “damn good politician” while Omar “can only tweet”. 

Lone Clan:

The journey of Lone clan is perhaps the reflection of peril and tragedy that Kashmir went through. In those times when there were meagre opponents of ‘Sher-e-Kashmir’, there was a strongest anti-Sheikh voice in Kashmir. The man was Abdul Gani Lone. Lone fought numerous battles against Sheikh in those times. Perhaps the intense was the one in which Sheikh accused Lone with “Tum charso bees ho(you are 420)”, to which Lone retorted back saying: “tum aath so chalees ho(you are 840). 


From far off Dard Harr village of Kupwara district, Lone was among the very few educated Kashmiris of yore. He was among the first ones who had pursued law in far away Aligarh in 1940’s. Lone is among the perhaps only politicians who started his political career in unionist camp to finally land in separatist camp. He started as a Congress man, was later expelled by Indira Gandhi, later switched to Janata Party and then formed his own Peoples Conference. The ‘Azadi tide’ in 1987 landed Lone in MUF(Muslim United Front). 

A changed Lone in 90’s was a Hurriyat man. The militant organization Al-Barq was also considered affiliated to him. Lone died as a separatist in 2002 after attackers assassinated him during the death anniversary of Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq in Srinagar’s Eidgah.  


According to former RAW chief AS Dulat, Lone during his visit to Pakistan had told then Pakistan Dictator General Parveez Musharraf: “Don’t worry about Kashmir, look after Pakistan. Your radicals will bite the hand that feeds them”.

Lone has two sons, Bilal and Sajad. One son Bilal for now stands with the cause that Lone stood for at his death, while as Sajad represents a thought which is different. 

Bilal for now is a separatist with Hurriyat. He is considered among the Mirwaiz’s close men. The political circles are abuzz that Bilal may join mainstream politics like his brother Sajad. Many insiders claim that Bilal is also willing to give his daughter a go in politics. 


Bilal keeps low profile unlike his brother Sajad. 

Sajad is a UK return with Psychology degree. He is married to Asma Khan, the daughter of Amanullah Khan, who was a head of separatist Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front in Pakistan. Sajad was also a minister in PDP-BJP coalition government. 

Mufti Clan:

The kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed in 1989 is etched in Kashmir’s memory forever. It is the incident when militants made their presence felt to New Delhi by capturing the daughter of Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. Like Sheikhs, Muftis from south Kashmir’s Bijebehara have their imprint on Kashmir’s past and are likely to leave it in future as well.


Post 90’s, human rights violations began to surface in Kashmir. In the battle of guns and bombs, myriad graves surfaced in Kashmir. Somebody’s son, somebody husband, somebody’s father, somebody’s lover and somebody everything was buried in those graves. 

Mourning became normal in “Valley of romance” during 90’s. During those dark days, a woman wearing a scarf and abaya would surface from her ambassador car and attend those funerals. Those funerals of civilians and even militant commanders. It was when Mehbooba Mufti made mourning her politics and emerged on the political scene of Kashmir. She won 1996 Assembly seat from Bijebehara on Congress ticket. She later along with her father formed PDP in 1999.


The daughter of Mufti Mohammmad Sayeed, a former Union Home Minister and J&K CM, Mehbooba became J&K’s first woman CM. She is also the last CM as well for now. It was after her father’s death. She like her father joined hands with BJP to accede to the J&K’s throne. Mehbooba is a pass-out of Kashmir University’s law department.

A cat lover Mehbooba has been severe critic of Modi-led Centre government.

She is likely to pass the baton to her daughters—Irtiqa and Iltija with the later already having announced her arrival on Kashmir’s political landscape post 5 August 2019, when the region was stripped of its special status and subsequently downgraded and divided into two Union Territories.