Fame and popularity are two different things in my opinion. One can become famous even by committing a senseless act, while the popularity requires special qualities and characteristics. Lord Avebury is a unique personality with an enormous sense of humanity and political commitment and skills.

Lord Avebury is a distinguished British politician. He was born on 29 September 1928. He was qualified in Upper Canada and Balliol College Oxford. He served as a Second Lieutenant in Welsh Guards from 1949 till 1951 and in various other national institutions as a remarkable officer before joining politics becoming a Liberal MP in 1961 serving two terms until 1970. He has been serving in House of Lords since 1971 when he inherited the title Baron Avebury. While most Life Peers were removed in 1999, he was re-elected by his fellow Liberals to retain the title. He first married a lady by the name of Kima Maria O’ Kelly in 1953 that lasted until 1983. In 1985, Lord Avebury married again.. The name of his second wife is Lindsay Stewart. I have not met with her, but spoken a number of times over the phone. From her accent, vocabulary and mannerism, she sounds a highly educated and graceful lady. Lord Avebury has 4 children from two wives.

Lord Avebury chaired a Parliamentary Group on Human Rights for many years. He is now ill and old, but still active on human rights. Lady Avebury is a significant support to Lord Avebury. He can hardly walk now, but he still attended a meting on the Muslims of Burma butchered by the terrorist Burmi government. The Muslim rulers on the other hand, remain indecisive as what to do on the matter. Lord Avebury is British by race and a Buddhist by faith, but a humanist by politics. He has been supporting almost all Independence Movements seeking self-determination that has made him respectable and popular. The oppressive governments opposing self-determination and democracy though perceive him as “a pain in the neck!”

I first heard of Lord Avebury back in 1981 when I set up a campaign in Europe with the help of my European fellow students to persuade the European governments to stop India from hanging the Kashmiri leader Muhammad Maqbool Butt, whose only crime was that he wanted his homeland reunited. I sent a letter to the London-based Amnesty International from Germany in which I appealed to support our campaign to save Maqbool Butt. The Amnesty replied to me forthwith that they were already dealing with the matter. They enclosed among other documents, a letter from Lord Avebury supporting the campaign to protect Mr. Butt’s life.

Although my all activities were peaceful, there was a turning point in my life when a group of young British Kashmiri kidnapped an Indian diplomat in Britain. They demanded the release of Maqbool Butt, Hameed Butt, Riaz Dar, Iqbal Qureashi and some other political prisoners. The kidnappers and killers escaped, but some of us were arrested and tried. The worst treatment was received by me and Riaz Malik of Kotli, who were sentenced secretly on circumstantial evidence. We first challenged the British government against the secret sentences where the London High Court quashed our secret sentences, but the Home Secretary reinstated them because of vested political interests. We then challenged the British Government in the European Courts of Human Rights, which released Riaz after 19 years and me after 22 years.

Lord Avebury played an imperative role, not just to secure our release, but in our day to day welfare in prison. For instance, when the British government classified me as a “Top Security” prisoner, the authorities prevented me from having a normal visits and receiving letters. I contacted Lord Avebury, which was my first every letter to him. He replied to me in three days enclosing a copy of a letter to the Home Secretary to which the latter replied that I was getting too many letters and Lord Avebury should advise me to reduce my written communication. Without consulting me, Lord Avebury retorted the Home Secretary that Mr. Raja had no family in the UK and telephone access and now you (the Home Secretary) is suggesting that he should not have a sufficient communication of mail with his family either. The Home Secretary kept me High Risk until I challenged him in the High Court 13 years later to remove this category, but I was allowed to write as many letters as I wanted to my family and friends as a result of Lord Avebury’s logical argument. The ground on which I petitioned to the High Court against the Home Secretary was annual reports by the prison authorities in which I had been consistently described as “ a MODEL PRISONER” , while I was not treated accordingly.

When I won the case in the European Court of Human Rights after about 22 years, I chose to come back home, because had I accepted the conditional stay in Britain, I could not have possibly seen my people and country for many years to come. I love my people and romantically beautiful country, which has been described by many European writers as “A HEAVEN ON EARTH!” but I continue to disagree and challenge certain political values and customs in my homeland. When I challenged certain prison rules in the beginning of my arrest, the prison authorities which tried to mould me remarked that: “don’t worry young man, you will be forced to adopt gradually.” I retorted the governor that I would never accept those rules which I see as disgraceful. The same thing happened when I returned home. When I challenged the undemocratic values in my native culture, certain serving politicians and their followers remarked that this political culture would gradually force me to change myself. Now, they say “Raja sahib is not going to give up the values he has brought with him from Britain” and when I was in Britain, the British authorities mentioned in a report that had been conducted after 15 years that there was no point trying to change Mr Raja, because he was not going to give up his Islamic values.” These are some of my experiences, which make me laugh at the wisdom and lovers of the status quo, who exist in every culture!

When Lord Avebury heard that I received a “HERO WELCOME” on my arrival back home, Lord Avebury and Dr Brian Iddon MP were the first two serving British politicians, who congratulated me and wished me good luck for the future. They predicted how difficult it might be for me to re-adjust myself in my native culture, which I left as a teenager 26 years earlier of which 22 were spent in prison. Although I have not forgotten and will never forget those compassionate people, who supported me during what then appeared to be as the most difficult time of my life (the deaths of my son born after my release and previously the death of my mother and brother were even more difficult) in prison, I was sorting out my files a few weeks back when Lord Avebury’s above mentioned letter caught my eyes. I read it again and felt guilty for not keeping in touch with such a compassionate political believer. I emailed him immediately to find out of his well-being. I was still not happy and I rang him. Lady Avebury answered the phone, who advised me to ring a half an hour later. When I did that, Lord Avebury attended the phone himself. I apologized for not remaining in contact and he said he was delighted to hear again from me. I was shocked to hear when he said that his life was going to end by July 2016 because of a blood cancer!

However, the brave Lord Avebury seems to have reacted to the sad news very well. His morals are still very high and he still participates in social and political activities as much as he can. He considers death not as something to worry or mourn about, but as a natural process. He has always supported the Natural Justice and therefore he will remains in the hearts and minds of the millions around the world. He also visited Jammu Kashmir during the 1990s uprising. On his return from the Valley of Kashmir, he concluded that certain Kashmiri leaders were themselves a big problem in solution to Kashmir question. We can not disagree. We pray that this great human being enjoys every moment of his remaining life in this world!