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For Kashmiris, Mandela an icon of righteousness


Srinagar, Dec 6: The death of South Africa’s iconic anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela has saddened many Kashmiris, who saw him as a symbol of steadfast commitment against injustice.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah paid tribute to Mandela on his Twitter site saying: "RIP Madiba. I’m honoured to have met you. Thank you for one of my most prized possessions – your signed book."

Abdullah also posted a picture of the autographed comment Mandela had written while presenting his book to the chief ministetr during their meeting. Mandela’s had written: "To Omar Abdullah, an outstanding diplomat".

On a chilly Friday morning here, people were talking about the selfless South African leader at bus stops, barber shops and bakeries. Customers at a hair cutting saloon in Jawahar Nagar area compared Mandela with their own leaders.

"None among our leaders has either the selflessness or the moral strength to stand steadfast on commitment. Mandela was uncompromising on what he believed to be true while our leaders change their ‘truth every second day’", said Nazir Ahmad (42), who had come for a haircut.

Some said Mandela’s death should prove to present day politicians that all one leaves behind after death is a good name or a bad curse depending on what you have done to the trust and faith reposed in you by the people.

"Some leaders like Mandela live in people’s hearts even after their death, while many others burn in the hellfire of hatred earned for their petty, selfish motives in politics", said Bashir Ahmad War, a retired veterinarian here.

For commoner Kashmiris, Mandela was the prisoner of conscience who did not compromise on values despite being jailed for 23 long years.

"He did not change his political ideology even after long years in prison, most of our politicians change ideology like worn out clothes", said Mehraj-ud-Din, a fruit seller in Srinagar.

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