Indian National Overseas Congress (I) Chairman, George Abraham who has had a long association with Dr. Najma Sultana recalls her as a soft-spoken but tenacious and unflappable individual who fought against racial, ethnic and religious discrimination and never hesitated to stand up for what is just and righteous.–EDITOR

With the sad demise of Dr. Najma Sultana, Indian American community has truly lost a pioneer who has dedicated her life fighting for the civil rights of the people here in U.S. and India. Undoubtedly, her greatest attributes were the laser focus she had on critical issues and the selfless service to the community. She was indeed an icon in our community who has never hesitated to stand up for what is just and righteous. She was soft-spoken but tenacious and unflappable individual who fought against racial, ethnic and religious discrimination. “Our community has benefited tremendously from Dr.Sultana’s tireless efforts to ensure that all people are treated equally,” said George Abraham, Chairman of Indian National Overseas Congress (I), USA. “She believed that regardless of one’s position, status, race, creed, color, religion or gender, everyone has an obligation to ensure equality for all.” She has worked with scores of civic and cultural organizations and has made an indelible imprint in her various walks of life.

I am indeed grateful for the time and opportunity to work together with her for the Indian National Overseas Congress from its inception. Her dedication to the lofty ideals and goals of the Congress party was unshakable. She truly believed that the hope for India rests on the pluralistic ethos Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation who has preached and practiced those principles. I recollect our trip together with NRI team to visit the riot-stricken areas of Gujarat in 2002 under the banner of the Non-Resident Indians for a Secular and Harmonious India (NRI-SAHI) of which she was a co-founder along with Sreekumar Poddar, I and many others. During our visit to one of the Panchayat Presidents to negotiate the return of the Muslims who have fled the village, we were caught in a situation where the place was surrounded by an angry mob and we had to literally flee through the backdoor to escape.

I would never forget the courage and tenacity Dr. Sultana showed during that ordeal. Dr. Najma Sultana inspired her colleagues with her humanity, her wonderful sense of irony, her grit, savvy, and passion. She became a close friend and confidant to many of us who were fighting for civil rights, religious freedom and human dignity. She will be sorely missed. Our community that she often fondly described as the extended family wants her relatives to know that Dr. Sultana’s legacy endures: her leadership is forever embedded in the DNA of all civil rights work she has undertaken and the impact we have achieved. Dr. Najma Sultana – may your soul rest in peace!

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