Written by the leading historian of modern Kashmir, this is a comprehensive political biography of one of the most enigmatic and controversial politicians in modern South Asia, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, known as the Lion of Kashmir.
Abdullah (1905–1982) devoted much of his life to mobilizing Kashmiris to assert their rights, to trying to achieve a fair resolution for their politically contested state, to shaping its turbulent relationship with India, and to bridging the divide between India and Pakistan. Although he successfully forged ties with the Indian National Congress, his support for Kashmir’s accession to India and his advocacy for a more autonomous position for the state within the Indian Union complicated his relationship to India and led to his fall from grace, arrest, and imprisonment. In 1975 he reached a compromise with India that alienated generations of Kashmiris for whose self-determination he had long fought. The people of Kashmir, India, and Pakistan continue to grapple with and contest his legacy.
Zutshi’s rigorously researched and elegantly crafted portrayal brings this complex figure to life and offers a window onto the political fissures of twentieth-century South Asia more broadly.
“Chitralekha Zutshi has crafted a complex and moving portrayal of Sheikh Abdullah, the Sher-e-Kashmir who spent much of his political life trying to achieve a just resolution for Kashmir and Kashmiris within the shifting circumstances of the twentieth century. This biography is rigorously researched, well-written and will be read widely.”—Neeti Nair, author of Hurt Sentiments: Secularism and Belonging in South Asia
“This book provides critical insights into the ebbs and flows of Sheikh Abdullah’s turbulent relationship with India. In weaving the complex threads of Abdullah’s life together, Chitralekha Zutshi broadens our understanding of the failures of Indian federalism and compels us to engage with the multiple understandings of sovereignties in conflict-ridden Kashmir.”—Shahla Hussain, author of Kashmir in the Aftermath of Partition