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SHEIKH’S SPEECH: 1938

Extracts from the presidential Address of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Muslim Conference, March 26, 1938

Like us the large majority of Hindus and Sikhs in the State have immensely suffered at the hands of the irresponsible government. They are also steeped in deep ignorance, have to pay large taxes and are in debt and starving. Establishment of responsible government is as much necessity for them as for us. Sooner or later these people are bound to join our ranks. No amount of propaganda can keep them away from us.
The main problem therefore before us is to organise joint action and a united front against the forces that stand in our way in the achievement of our goal. This will require re-christening our organization as a non-communal political body and introducing certain amendments in its constitution and its rules.
I reiterate today what I have said so often. Firstly, we must end communalism by ceasing to think in terms of Muslims and non-muslims when discussing our political problems. Secondly there must be universal suffrage on the basis of joint electorate, without these two democracy is lifeless.
You complain that the Hindus belonging to the vested interests are reactionary and stand in the way of our progress.
But have we not had the same experience in the case of capitalist Muslim also? It is significant as well as hopeful that in spite of many difficulties in their way some non-muslims have cooperated with us though their number is very small. Their sincerity and moral courage make us feel their strength. We must, therefore, open our doors to all such Hindus and Sikhs, who like ourselves believe in the freedom of their country from the shackles of an irresponsible rule

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