Mirza Afzal Beg, one of the top five politicians in Kashmir for four decades since 1930s, was a trusted lieutenant of Sheikh Abdullah. He was also the president of the Plebiscite Front and was arrested as one of the accused in Kashmir Conspiracy Case. In later years, he was Sheikh Abdullah’s representative in talks with the Indian government in 1974, inking the 1974 Indira-Sheikh accord. Afzal Bég hailed from Anantnag and was the son of Mirza Nizamudin Beg, brother of Mirza Ghulam Qadir Beg and nephew of the landlord, Mirza Ghulam Mohammad Bég, of Anantnag. He died on 11 June 1982. He was popularly known as ‘Fakhr-e-Kashmir’ (pride of Kashmir) and was the architect of the legendary ‘land to the landless tiller’ legislation which uplifted the masses of J&K. His legal acumen and genius was admired by friends and foes. He was also known as the brain behind Sheikh Abdullah. His legal acumen was lauded by the imminent legal luminary G.S. Pathak, who later became the Vice President of India, who proclaimed “Beg Sahab, you come out of politics and be a permanent part of the legal profession, you can be a jewel of any Bar” (after hearing his arguments in the Kashmir Conspiracy case). He was immensely popular amongst his people and was perceived as the successor to Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah. He served as the first Deputy Chief Minister of the state of J&K and was seen discharging the most important functions in the State with his sheer brilliance. Historians of JK Politics hold him solely for National Conference’s landslide win in the 1977 assembly elections when he single-handedly ran the NC’s campaign. He is survived by three sons and three daughters.
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