|Born||February 18, 1938|
|Died||February 11, 1984
Tihar Jail New Delhi, India
Maqbool Bhat (مقبول بٹ ) (Nastaleeq)) or Maqbool Butt (February 18, 1938 – February 11, 1984) was a Kashmiri separatist and co-founder of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front. He was hanged on February 11, 1984 in Tihar Jail in New Delhi .
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He was born on 18 February 1938 to a peasant family in Trahagam village Tehsil Handwara, district Kupwara. His father was called Ghulam Qadar Butt. He studied BA in History and Political Science from University of Kashmir and MA Urdu Literature, Peshawar University, Pakistan. He worked for some time as teacher and also a local Journalist. Habibullah Bhat, disappeared when he had gone to meet Maqbool Bhat at Tihaar Jail. Ghulam Nabi Bhat (Convener of JKLF) and Manzoor Ahmad Bhat - were killed in separate encounters with security forces at Srinagar and Trehgam. Zahoor Bhat (JKLF) recently released by the local police after investigating him for nearly an year for crossing the LOC illegally few days before the 25th Anniversary of Maqbool Bhat. And Two Sisters. Was married twice and had four children.
On 14 September 1966 Maqbool and other JKNLF militants, ambushed police. One separatist "Aurangzeb" was killed. Also dead was Amar Chand, an Inspector of the local Crime Branch CID. Maqbool Bhat and Kala Khan were arrested for the murder. Bhat accused of being the enemy agent and his involvement in the shootout, was found guilty and subsequently sentenced to death. During the trial Maqbool stood up and told the court “I have no objection in accepting all the charges levelled against me but remember I am not the agent of your enemy. Look at me! I am your enemy, I am the enemy of your colonial mindset. Have a good look, I am your enemy’’. In 1968, Bhat, along with two others, managed to dig a tunnel under the Srinagar prison, and escape to Pakistan, where they were briefly arrested. In the years to come Maqbool Bhat became an aspiration for the younger generation in AJK, and he started advocating for the armed struggle branding AJK rulers as puppets of Pakistani rulers and mortgaging the freedom of Kashmir for money and government posts without any power or authority. The PF also swung towards national liberation and Maqbool Bhat was elected its president. This was followed by a Gilgit Baltistan Week in 1970 and Maqbool Bhat along with Khaliq Ansari and Amanulla Khan went to these areas of Kashmir bared for ‘Azad’ Kashmiri politicians but were thrown out by the Pakistani authorities in forests outside of the state boundaries. This reminds one of Robert Thorpe, a British born to a Kashmiri mother who was similarly thrown out of the boundaries of Kashmir in 1867 by the then Maharaja of Kashmir Ranbir Singh. However, the campaign for independent Kashmir continued to grow in popularity among Kashmiris in the Pakistani controlled part.
In 1971,Bhat was accused of masterminding the hijacking of a Passenger Airline to Lahore, Pakistan, and the hijackers declared affiliation with JKLF under the leadership of Bhat. The Pakistani authorities then arrested Bhat and a number of others. He was released in 1974, and two years later, Bhat sneaked into India where he was soon captured.
His earlier death sentence was still valid, and he petitioned to the President of India Giyani Zail Singh for clemency on the grounds of an unfair trial. On February 3, 1984, an Indian diplomat in UK named Ravindra Mhatre was kidnapped in Birmingham. A demand of release of Maqbool Bhat was put forward by the kidnappers. On February 6, 1984, JKLF militants murdered the Indian diplomat Ravindra Mhatre, in Birmingham, England. After this, Bhat's petition for clemency was rejected, and Bhat was executed in the Tihar Jail in New Delhi on February 11, 1984 and buried in the Jail premises.
Five years after Bhat’s hanging, the JKLF launched a militant movement for separation of the state Jammu and Kashmir from India. Since his death, the JKLF has been demanding that the mortal remains of the party founder, which were buried inside the Tihar Jail, be handed over. Separatist leaders also call for shutdown each year, which is observed in the Valley to mark his death anniversary. JKLF announced a ceasefire in 1994.
In its judgement, delivered on August 6, 1982, the Court observed that in view of the mercy petition pending before the President, Bhat cannot be classed as one 'under sentence of death' and therefore cannot be confined apart from other prisoners. The Court held that his transfer to the death cell on April 27, 1981, is -"arbitrary and illegal". Consequently, Bhat was shifted to Ward l--originally earmarked for "high security risk prisoners".
Several attempts were made by different Kashmiri groups for the release of Maqbool Bhat including the Hi jacking of an Indian plane by Abdul Hameed Diwani in 1976, an attempt to blow the Delhi conference hall of Non Alignment Movement in 1981 but to no avail. In the first week of February 1984, an unknown group ‘Kashmir Liberation Army’ kidnapped an Indian diplomat Ravindra Mahatrey from India's consulate Birmingham. They demanded the release of Maqbool Bhat and a sum of money from Indian government but killed him just two days after abduction. Within a week, the Indian government hanged Maqbool Bhat, who was optimistically waiting for his review petition against his sentence on the grounds that the case had several legal flaws from its very beginning in 1966. Several Kashmiri lawyers claim that the action of Indira Gandhi government left the law of Indian land aside and argue that Maqbool Butt’s hanging was an act of illegal execution by the Indian state. No member of his family was allowed to meet him. His dead body was not handed over to his family.
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- Mushtaq, Sheikh (11 February 2011). "Kashmir seeks return of hanged separatist leader's remains". Reuters. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- Kashmir seeks return of hanged separatist leader’s remains - 11 February 2011 Last Retrieved 9 February 2013
- "The Rediff Interview/Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Liberation Front Chief Hashim Qureshi". Rediff.com. February 14, 2001.
- "After 7 Years, India Hangs Kashmir Nationalist". Los Angeles Times. February 12, 1984.
- "Shutdown on JKLF founder's death anniversary". Zee News. 11 February 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- "JKLF wants all cases against its cadres withdrawn". The Times Of India. January 16, 2013.
- "Pakistan Moves to Block March By Supporters of a Free Kashmir". The New York Times. February 11, 1992.
- Maqbool Butt Foundation