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Noor Muhammad: the Gallant Horse-Rider

Before the day Sheikh Abdullah could utter the words “Tu Mun Shudi, Mun Tu Shudi” at the famous clock tower of Emra Kadal and be etched as the most famous political entrepreneur of his time, Noor Muhammad Sofi appeared on the scene and called on him in the early morning. He wore a saffron attire, typical that of a Kashmiri Bat, and greeted him “Namaskara”. His atypical makeover infuriated Abdullah. Hailing from Koker Bazar, Sofi was a unique character, almost mad who loved riding horses. A mere glimpse of him on the streets of Emra Kadal will send shivers down the hooligans and anti-social elements of that time. Once he rode his horse to the Palladium Cinema.

He was stopped at the entrance and asked to keep the animal at home, to which he replied “

My horse wants to enjoy the movie”.

Nobody dared to tell him otherwise. Sofi had dedicated his life to the National conference, appearing in every scene and meeting. He had been arrested for the first time during the Quit Kashmir Movement in 1946. During the initial days of the movement, he asked Mohiddin Karra to wrap a scarf around his head and wear loose clothing. Karra was one of the prominent figures of the uprising.

Sofi rode the Horse cart around the city until they reached the destination. The scarf gave the impression that he was carrying a woman in his cart, little did anybody know that the person inside the veil was the most wanted man in Kashmir. Dissatisfied with Abdullah, he uniquely registered his protest and when the former saw him, he was agitated. He called on Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad who instead hugged Sofi and exclaimed “Our leader has sold us. There’s nothing we can do”.

When he was lodged in the jail, he met Yusuf Khan, a member of the Muslim Conference to whom he revealed that he was dissatisfied with the events happening. Upon asked as to why he chooses to wear the saffron attire, he said “This is what our leader wants us to do after 25 years”. He continued wearing the same clothes among his friends and it was during this time, Munshi Ishaq’s son saw him.

He also organized an anti-accession rally but it gathered no appeal, and those of the members who distanced themselves from the Politics of NC watched in silence as S.M Abdullah unveiled yet another chapter of his Sheikhdom. Sofi spoke nothing of the torture in the jail and after few months of his release in 1948, he stepped into a local hotel. A few hours later, he collapsed on the floor. The cause of his death remains a mystery to this day, but many speculate that he was poisoned. Yousuf Khan received the news in jail.

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