Past weigh heavy as Dr Abdullah performs Umrah

JKNC president Dr Farooq Abdullah performs Umrah, albeit with a turbulent political history

SRINAGAR | Updated: 06 March, 2023 9:14 pm IST
Dr Farooq Abdullah performing Umrah

National Conference president and Member of Parliament Dr Farooq Abdullah performed ‘Umrah’, a minor pilgrimage to the twin Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Dr Abdullah is accompanied by a party colleague and JKNC provincial president of Jammu, Aijaz Jan.

Dr Abdullah’s son and NC vice president Omar Abdullah, while confirming Dr Abdullah’s trip to Saudi Arabia, posted on Facebook, “Jenab Dr. Farooq Abdullah Sahib leaving for the Haramain Sharifain to perform Umrah. @ajazjan7 is accompanying him on the holy pilgrimage. May Almighty Allah accept their supplications, and strengthen their faith.”

Historically, for the Abdullahs, the trip to the holy city of Mecca had been turbulent politically. Dr Abdullah’s father, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who was the first Prime minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was arrested from Palam Airport upon his return from the Haj pilgrimage on May 8, 1965. He remained incarcerated till January 1968.

Sheikh Abdullah was arrested for meeting the then Chinese premier Zhou Enlai in Algeria while returning from Saudi Arabia after performing Hajj. Sheikh eventually came back to power, albeit in a much weaker position as a Chief Minister in 1975.

Dr Abdullah’s son, Omar Abdullah, then the Chief minister of J&K, visited Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah in April 2009. Barely a month later, his government was rocked after protests broke out in South Kashmir over the drowning of two women who were allegedly raped and murdered.

In 2010, Omar Abdullah’s government again faced mass protests, bringing Kashmir to a literal shutdown for three months. Omar’s government couldn’t overcome the impact of consecutive years of protests. It lost popularity soon after as it was severely criticised for mishandling protesters and having poor records on human rights. His party subsequently lost elections in 2014.

As Dr Abdullah performs the Umrah, the past political turbulence might weigh on his mind, and he would be hoping that this time around his prayers are answered.

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