5th December 1997
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister I.K. Gujral today said a "blunder" had been committed in not recognising a "great visionary and statesman" like Sheikh Abdullah as a result of which the nation was now paying a heavy price. "Be it myopia, political expediency or anything else. We have committed blunders in not recognising some great people and Sheikh Abdullah was one of them," the prime minister said at a function here on the 92nd birth anniversary of the Kashmir leader.
He said Sheikh Abdullah had to pay a heavy price for some bold steps he took, including remaining under detention for 17 years. Lauding his visionary qualities, Gujral said that barely three days before his death, Sheikh Abdullah had predicted the present situation in the country. "He talked about the Centre-state relations, devolution of powers and Panchayati Raj."
Land reforms was another revolutionary step that he initiated and was misunderstood. But that was the price every such step entailed. Former Union minister Vasant Sathe while, paying tributes to Sheikh Abdullah, said the real homage to him would be if people forgot the two nation theory and the resultant bloodshed. He said India's partition took place on the basis of religion and the two nation theory and Sheikh Abdullah was among those few people who opposed it.