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Sheikh Abdullah: Chains of Gold

Sunil Khilnani explores the life of Sheikh Abdullah, the Lion of Kashmir.

Sunil Khilnani explores the life of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the Lion of Kashmir.

Born in Srinagar as a burden, Abdullah's father died before he was born. Dispossessed of their share of family property, Abdullah and his two elder brothers were expected to make the cheap cotton shawls on which their extended, devout family depended. But the young boy discovered he had a gift, for reciting the Koran, which allowed him to get out of darning. Eventually, it would help him see more of the world than his shabby corner of Srinagar.

But his legacy today is an ambivalent one. For many he stands as the primary, powerful advocate of Kashmiri self-rule, who sacrificed his own freedom time after time in his attempts to secure representation and rights for his people. For others, especially younger Kashmiris today, he's the man who sold Kashmir out to India, first in the late-1940s and then again in the 1970s, in exchange for personal power.

Producer: Martin Williams.

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15 minutes

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Remarkable individuals who shaped India, and sometimes the world.

Remarkable individuals who shaped India, and sometimes the world.

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