Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rememebering Martyr Maqbool Bhat

Courtesy: Daily Rising Kashmir dt. Feb., 11th, 2009 by Shafi A. Athar

Maqbool Bhat has a unique place in the history of Kashmir, in more ways than one. He was possibly one and the only leader who received hero's worship many years after his death. He raised the question of complete freedom of Kashmir, all areas included, as before the partition of British India. He wanted Kashmir in the same geographical and political landscape as about 480 years before, when Kashmir's own ruler Yousuf Shah was arrested by Akbar's army to die a lonely death. Maqbool Bhat believed in complete sovereignty of Kashmir and died for it. He fought bravely and died a brave man. He remained committed to his idea, lived with it in Indian and Pakistani jails, strived to keep his calm and composition in the small cell in Tihar Jail and died with a smiling face as he knew he had not betrayed his people. Even his worst detractors confess his deep sentiment for the cause he pursued all his life. Though call of death unnerves many a great minds but even the Indian press acknowledged that he died with a smile on his face. Going to the gallows, his last words have been reported as, " I love my people. I have loved the life and today I embrace death happily". The love for his people and his motherland prompted Maqbool Bhat to announce complete freedom for his country in 1966.Soon after the news of Ravindra Mhatre, an Indian Diplomat in London, having been killed reached Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, shot back, " How fast can we execute Maqbool Bhat legally?" That was enough for the people at the helm of affairs to arrange the execution of Maqbool Bhat which eventually happened on 11th February, 1984. The vengeful execution by the Indian establishment was followed by the denial of his remains being taken to Srinagar which according to Maqbool Bhat's will were supposed to be buried at Trehgam, his native village. He was buried in the premises of Tihar jail while prominent lawyers R S Pathak, Muzaffar Hussain Beg and Tufail were made to wait at the gate of the jail. By not allowing his remains being shifted to Srinagar or Trehgam, though the government tried to skip the fear of his burial being turned into a place of reverence for his people, yet he has become a bigger threat with his death, than when he was alive. The conviction he nurtured has seen Kashmir turning a battleground for last eighteen years with attention of the whole world including the only super power focussed on the problem.Maqbool Bhat took his birth in a remote village of Kupwara, and may be the appalling condition of the people might have given him the first hand experience of subjugation, poverty, neglect and state of slavery. That is why he carried a burning desire of freedom that would radiate from his eyes. This prompted one of his teachers Fr. MacMohan to comment, "Though he was a student of 9th class only but his personality reflected that he would change the course of events for his country". Teachers happen to be better judges of their pupil and so are the companions during studies. One of the Maqbool Bhat's colleagues at Baramullah College recollects his days as a student. In one of the informal conversations with this writer, Late Prof. Rahi recollects Maqbool Bhat's assertive mind. "During a seminar at Baramullah College, in the presence of a Hindu Deputy Commissioner, Maqbool Bhat insisted that he would speak on the subject Iqbal and the concept of Pakistan. Though he was asked to speak on other aspects relating Iqbal he declined to speak.

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