Quayyum Raja's Unfolding Life : Chapter 6 "Maqbool Butt's Hanging"
Maqbool Butt was sentenced to death in 1966. He was only 28 years old at that. He was a postgraduate. He got a LLB and Master in Urdu and worked as a journalist. Maqbool Butt was an excellent writer and speaker, who used his gifted skills for the national cause of independence. He was offered a high level political adjustment in the government of Azad Kashmir by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Z. A. Bhutto, but he refused due to his commitment to the national cause of independence. The handsome Maqbool Butt had two wives with two sons and a daughter , but he sacrificed his family life as well for the cause. Although he wanted to reunite Jammu Kashmir, which required the withdraw of both India and Pakistan, he coupled an armed struggle with a political campaign against India and only a political struggle in Pakistan administered Jammu Kashmir. He crossed a ceasefire line a number if times. On one occasion, he and his companions clashed with a senior officer of indian intelligence, Amar Chand, who used to spy on local KASHMIRIS. Ramchand got killed in an encounter with a 19 years old companion of Maqbool Butt named Aurangzeb from Gilgit. Since Aurangzeb had been martyred, India charged Maqbool Butt with murder just to cause fear and panic in the public so that people stop supporting the independence movement.
When Riaz and I were tried in the UK for killing an Indian diplomat, which we didn’t, India tried to prove the JKLF as a terrorist organisation and gave the history of these incidents to the British government. When the British prosecutor gave the details in the court, I simply said if Britain would not tolerate a German or French police officer or soldier in Britain, why should we tolerate an Indian officer in Jammu Kashmir? At another stage, the trial judge tried to test my commitment to the cause and a concern for my life. He asked me if I would express sympathy with the family of the assassinated indian diplomat, I said I would do so far India expressed sympathy with the family of Maqbool Butt who wasn’t allowed the last visit from his family before hanging. The judge never asked me such a question again.
MAQBOOL BUTT ESCAPE
Maqbool Butt and his companions Kala Khan, Mir Muhammad and Chaudhry Yaseen escaped from Srinagar jail in 1968. They arrived in Pakistani administered Kashmir, where they were arrested by the Pakistani authorities, but released three months later.
Butt’s Political Activities in Azad Kashmir
Maqbool Butt was elected as president of the Plebiscite Front on his return from the indian jail. The armed struggle was launched from the platform of the National Liberation Front (NLF). It was a military wing of the Plebiscite Front. On 30 January 1971, another two young followers of Maqbool Butt Hashim Qureashi and Ashraf Qureshi hijacked an Indian airlines fokker F27 from Srinagar and forced it to land at Lahore. At first, the then Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto met with the hijackers and welcomed them, but when India launched an international campaign against Pakistan, the womeniser military dictator general Yahya Khan arrested over 300 members of the Plebiscite Front.
They were treated badly in Shahi Kila, a fort in Lahore, but released following the trial. Only one accused 17 years old Hashim Qureshi was handed out a life sentence. His co-hijacker Ashraf Qureshi got admission to the Punjab University, where he was employed as a lecturer. He retired as a head of Kashmir Chair in the Punjab University, where he introduced the Kashmir Study. He passed away in 2012 and was buried in Mir Pur as his last will. He was never able to see his home and family again. Hashim Qureshi, who took a political asylum in Holland in mid 1980s, returned to Kashmir after 30 years where he faced trial again but couldn’t be tried twice for the same charge.
Maqbool Butt’s Hanging
Maqbool Butt returned to Jammu Kashmir in 1976 along with his two young followers, Abdul Hameed Butt and Riaz Dar. As they resumed political activities, they were arrested. Thinking that Maqbool Butt might escape again, India took him to Tihar jail New Delhi, while Hameed and Riaz were kept in Jail in Kashmir. On the rumour that Butt was going to be quitely hanged, a previously unheard of a group the Kashmir Liberation Army captured a deputy commissioner of India from the Birmingham Indian Consulate and demanded the release of all prisoners, including Maqbool Butt. Instead of negotiating to save two lives, ie, Butt in indian jail and Indian diplomat in the custody of Kashmir Liberation Army, India and Britain threatened to kill the kidnappers. As a result, the kidnappers killed the indian diplomat and escaped. Maqbool Butt was sadly hung by India on 11 February 1984. He remains buried inside Tihar jail despite repeated demands to return his remains to his family.
REACTION ON MAQBOOL BUTT’s HANGING!
There was a strong national and international reaction against India apart from a few imperialistic powers including Britain. Qazsfi led Libya, Yasir Arafat and Iran condemned the hanging and so did many human rights groups. People in both parts of divided Jammu Kashmir took to streets and protested against the regional Kashmiri governments as well as India and Pakistan. Protests continued for several days. Cities and offices remained closed during this The British Kashmiri Community also protested. I didn’t join the protest as my picture had been shown on the British TV channels with a request to public for cooperation over my arrest. Airport and border securities had also been alerted. Despite the fact that I was against the killing of the diplomat and I requested an inquiry within the JKLF, time demanded me to remain behind the scenes. I watched the unfolding events both at home and abroad with grief and pain.
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