Kashmir seeks return of hanged separatist leader’s remains

February 11, 2011

A Kashmiri man puts his signature on a banner during a signature campaign by the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) in Srinagar February 4, 2011. REUTERS/Fayaz KabliMohammad Maqbool Bhat, the pioneer of Kashmir’s separatist struggle, was hanged in New Delhi’s Tihar jail on February 11, 1984.

Bhat, also the founder of Kashmir’s influential separatist group Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), was executed on the charge of killing an Indian intelligence officer. His body was buried in the jail.

Five years after Bhat’s hanging, Kashmiri militants including JKLF launched an insurgency against Indian rule in the Muslim-majority region and the bloodshed has continued ever since.

Each year on February 11, Kashmir goes on strike to mark the anniversary of the hanging of its leader, widely respected in the disputed region.

Life across the Kashmir valley was affected on Friday by a separatist shutdown called to observe the death anniversary of Bhat.

But JKLF, which declared a ceasefire with Indian forces in 1994 and is fighting politically for the independence of Kashmir from both India and Pakistan, says it will intensify its protests and demand the return of Bhat’s mortal remains.

“The denial of mortal remains of leader to his people is a grave human rights violation,” the JKLF said. “Bhat is the identity of Kashmiris and symbol of our unity.”

The group also said it has started a signature campaign.

There is an empty grave in the “martyr’s graveyard” in Srinagar awaiting the mortal remains of Maqbool Bhat.

To win the hearts and minds of the alienated people of Kashmir, should India return the remains?

35 comments

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Today every Kashmiri soul acknowledges how right Shaeed-e-Azam Mohammad Maqbool Bhat was in his idea of Independent Kashmir. He had clearly visualized that independent J&K was the only answer to Kashmiri aspirations. He was able to understand all dimensions of the strategic importance of J&K and its ramifications on changing world orders. He is our hero and civilized world should prevail upon India so that mortal remains are brought back to kashmir for a decent burial of our hero.

Posted by haleema11 | Report as abusive

Maqbool was executed by circumventing all dictates of law and justice, and even his mortal remains and memoirs have been held captive. Therefore, Kashmiris all over the world will agitate this judicial murder and the detention of his remains on February 11

Posted by haleema11 | Report as abusive

Being an avid follower of current affairs in the newspapers in the 80s, I remember the sequence of events as they unfolded.

Maqbool Butt (as Indian newspapers called him) was on death row in Tihar jail, but he wasn’t executed for a long time. He was kept in suspended animation.

The public only came to know about Butt when JKLF terrorists kidnapped and killed Ravindra Mhatre (an Indian diplomat in the UK) in a stated bid to pressure India into releasing Butt. http://bit.ly/eRlV7r

Expectedly, just to show that they couldn’t be pressured, India promptly brought Butt out of death row and hanged him. Even at the time, editorials had predicted that doing so would make him a martyr. This has indeed come to pass.

A cynic would say that the JKLF leadership obtained a martyr for their cause by getting India to do exactly what they wanted. Notice that they killed Mhatre after kidnapping him. They didn’t hold him to ransom, which is what they should have done if they had really wanted Butt to be released.

The same cynic would therefore say that returning or not returning Butt’s remains would make no difference to the separatists’ attitudes towards India. Butt is serving his intended purpose as a martyr to the cause.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

Fanning the flames of hatred as usual!

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

Kashmir should seek Gandhian method if they really want to make an impact. Violent methods will be met with violent reaction. Why can’t they follow what the Egyptians have been doing? Come out into the streets en mass and stay until demands are met. Throw flowers at the soldiers. If they beat you, smile at them and offer them tea. Wave white flags. And keep on staying. At some point hearts would melt. Power of non-violence is incredible. No one will have the face to suppress that. If Kashmiris want independence from India, then Gandhian way is the only way out. When people stand up for a unanimous purpose, no system can contain that. There would be no need for any vote or referendum. I will respect people’s voice expressed by non-violent means any time. I am an Indian.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

They only want the remains of their heroe?

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

@KPSingh
“If Kashmiris want independence from India, then Gandhian way is the only way out”

I have read your very thoughtful comments and respect you much. But not for this above comment which you have been making repeatedly lately.

Gandhiji fought and died defending unity of humanity. Foreign power coming from 1000s of miles away to rule an alien land is not the same as a region with which rest of the country has deep historical connections, heritage wanting to break away. Did/do the British have any pilgrimage sites in India?

“Kashmiri” separatism is exactly opposite of Gandhiji’s ideals since it is merely political islamism, and a mindset once muslims are majority in one area they should have nothing to do with the kafirs. Ethnic cleansing of their own people since they don’t belong to Islam can never be a “Gandhian struggle”.

http://www.dnaindia.com/opinion/column_k ashmiris-chase-a-mirage_1274327

“No pandit or Ladakhi or any of the other ethnic populations of Jammu & Kashmir will ever want to stay in this place. No secular humanist can support an azadi project that is rooted in exclusivism when the world is talking inclusivism.”

Posted by netizen | Report as abusive

there is a Human rights protocal, “if during a war a soldier dies in an enemy country while fighting, the military of that country must return the body of the soldier to the native country with all honour,
though it was not a war like situation, i dont know what stops india from doing this, actually Its only India that Made Maqbool Bhat a hero by Hanging him and burying him there, now it seems they are scared if they return his remains it might trigger more resentment towards india:
what ever it is INDIA must RETURN his remains to the family:

Posted by littlemiss | Report as abusive

“To win the hearts and minds of the alienated people of Kashmir, should India return the remains?”

Really?? Not biting.

P.S:
It’s not sufficient for an authors profile to read as, “Sheikh Mushtaq has worked with Reuters since 1995″.

He might just as well be an anonymous blog poster.

Posted by trickey | Report as abusive

@daraindia….if asking the remains of a leader amounts to fanning the flames of hatred, then your country is in trouble in Kashmsir. where there is deep hatred against india and why not. u hanged our leader and burried him in jail…shame. introspect Dara and see Indian democracy is in chains in Kashsmir.

Posted by Imititaz | Report as abusive

@ K P Singh…Kashmir has already on Gandhain way…three summer we have protested peacefully against Indian occupation, six hundred protesters were killed in past three years by security forces…but india has not moved so far. Millions of people every year take to streets in peaceful protests and Indian security forces are showering bullets….is there any other way Gandhi ji taught?

Posted by Imititaz | Report as abusive

Dara Singh Ji.. be brave like dara singh. Your’s is a demorcatic country and i am sure you belive in human rights. Hanging and burrying a popular leader i am sure you will be also regreting.

Posted by gul11 | Report as abusive

Maqbool was executed by circumventing all dictates of law and justice, and even his mortal remains and memoirs have been held captive. Therefore, Kashmiris all over the world will agitate this judicial murder and the detention of his remains on February 11

Posted by gul11 | Report as abusive

imtiaz: “Kashmir has already on Gandhain way…three summer we have protested peacefully against Indian occupation, six hundred protesters were killed in past three years by security forces…but india has not moved so far. Millions of people every year take to streets in peaceful protests and Indian security forces are showering bullets….is there any other way Gandhi ji taught?”

It was not a peaceful march. Stones were pelted at the jawans to the point of breaking them down. It was an organized and planned operation with commands coming from across the LoC. Seven hundred people did not die. I too watch and read news. What I do not like from your end is passionate exaggeration and one sided campaign. I will not subscribe to that. Jingoism will not work. Real peaceful effort is needed to touch hearts.

Posted by KPSingh01 | Report as abusive

Imititaz/gul11/littlemiss

Maqbool’s remains is of sentimental value and is more to do with the past. India should give and stop the ever increasing call for the remains.

Over deaths, I would not argue over numbers of protesters died, but definitely Kashmiris have died although the number has decreased a lot. If you see that directly correlates with slowing down the militant activity.

One thing which Kashmiris can do without is slow down in blaming everything on Indian soldiers. Rapes by Indian soldiers in Shopian led to months of protests. Then was an issue of soldiers wrongly blamed for the death of teenagers. Soldiers did not kill teenagers. Recently, there was a murder of teenage sisters by militants. Perhaps you can help me understand why don;t I see any shopian-type protests by Kashmiris.

Posted by rehmat | Report as abusive

@ KP Singh…..Indian government has failed to adjust its strategy to deal with a separatist movement committed to nonviolence. Some Indian political leaders, even those who disagree with the push for Kashmir’s independence, are beginning to wonder whether India’s democracy is mature enough to handle such widespread but peaceful dissent.

Posted by Imititaz | Report as abusive

The People who call themselves Kashmiri Seperatists/Nationalists or whatever they call themselves, have never for a second had a dialogue with the other section of kashmiri’s regarding Seperation from india. They would never enter in a dialogue with Jammu or Ladakh regions which contribte 30% of the population and holds almost 70% of Jammu and Kashmir Geographical area (ladakh 50% and Jammu region 20%). If the logic of Dividing Kashmir is based India/Pakistan partition principle ie) people who wants to reside in India or be Free,then Kashmiris (read seperatists) will be in a rude shock because they would lose most of what Jammu and Kashmir is but retain only the valley and some parts of Jammu and Kashmir. The arrogance of Kashmiri seperatists is unparallelled.

Posted by sensiblepatriot | Report as abusive

Imtiaz and Gul,

This so called leader was a murderer. What is more, a diplomat was also kidnapped and murdered on his behalf. He had the blood of two people on his hands. This annual ritual is just another one of those excuses to further boost India hating in the region at the behest of the handlers.. Will you guys also similarly remember and agitate on an annual basis the recent deaths of those two girls by the hands of the militants? Or is that already forgotten and forgiven?

The author here says that an insurgency started 5 years after the hanging. What does that mean? Is he trying to somehow find some excuse to link this up with the insurgency starting in 1989? You expect anyone to buy this story? If this is not fanning hatred what is it?

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

India should Return remains of Shaheed Maqbool Bhat’s remains and Take Sheikh Abdulla’s in return so that we wil burry it at his place with great respect and honour.

Posted by ajaz123 | Report as abusive

@Daraindia…..”this so called leader was a murderer” darasingh Ji if you want people to respect your leaders show respect for thie r leaders. what was baghat singh and subash chander bose, both murderers, but we still respect them. For your general knowledge let me tell you Kashmir was an independent country and soon it will secede from India because of geopolitical situations in the region. but don’t worry we will be a friendly country but more friendly with china which has started politically helping us.

Posted by Imititaz | Report as abusive

Darasingh Ji….have patience and learn tolerence you belong to Gandhi’s land not Modi’s. start respect leaders of other countries or occupied territeies so that we respect more your leaders.

Posted by gul11 | Report as abusive

Personally, I see no major issue in returning the body. However, I feel the hesitancy is that it will then be used to make an issue of it and to ferment trouble and arouse passions.

Times they are a changing. Today the grave of Sheikh Abdullah, has to be given police protection against the same people who once venerated him as the Lion of Kashmir and saw him as their saviour! Public sentiment is indeed fickle and can be manipulated at will by crafty ‘leaders’.

Somebody here also spoke of an independent J & K being the only answer to aspirations of the Kashmiri people. They couldn’t be more off the mark. I hope they understand that J & K is much more than the valley and that the people of Leh and Jammu will oppose their being taken for granted and their call for independence.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

Gul,

I have enough patience to last several lifetimes. Kashmir is neither an occupied territory nor another country. Legally, geographically and ethnically it as Indian as any other part of India. The last rulers of Kashmir, and for exactly 100 years till 1947, were Indian.

Please correct me but wasn’t Maqbool Butt (I believe that is how his name is actually spelt) even arrested in Pakistan for his role in hijacking an Indian Airlines plane? Wasn’t he tried in an open court in India and given an opportunity to defend himself? While you may perhaps have a different view, I have faith in Indian judicial systems even though they have many drawbacks. Wasn’t an Indian diplomat kidnapped and killed in cold blood to secure his release? So while some may consider him their leader I would respectfully and patiently beg to differ. But I am willing to be convinced otherwise by someone giving me facts to the contrary.

Lastly, I don’t respect people because they call themselves or are in fact leaders, whether in India or anywhere. I respect those who earn my respect.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

DaraIndia said:

> I hope they understand that J & K is much more than the valley and that the people of Leh and Jammu will oppose their being taken for granted and their call for independence.

Minor correction: Ladakh and Jammu. Leh is the capital of Ladakh.

Regards,
Ganesh Prasad

Posted by prasadgc | Report as abusive

@Daraindia, plz dont abuse our leader, your security forces have abused us for the pastsix decades and now so called unarmed indian citozens have started absuing our leaders. We respect baghat singh ji, because he was your leader though he was a murderer. If you wannt respect and diginity, Daraindia give it to others first.

Posted by haleem11 | Report as abusive

@K P Singh, dear singh, we did adopt Gandhian way, since last three years we have been protesting peacefuly againt aoccupation but o one listens because this part of world is without oil and rich minerals. The best thing indians can do is to respectfully return the remains of our belved leader, we do expect this in near future because this land belongs to Gandhiji not Modi ji or Daraji.

Posted by haleem11 | Report as abusive

Maqbool Butt’s Quote For us, Azadi (independence) means not just getting rid of foreign occupation of our beloved motherland but also to remove hunger, poverty, ignorance and disease and to overcome economic and social deprivation. One day, we shall achieve that Azadi “

Posted by shugufta | Report as abusive

Father of nation, an eloquent orator, pioneer of armed struggle, adept guerrilla commander, political genius and great son of soil Shaheed Maqbool Bhat, who inspired millions of kashmiris and lit flame and passion for freedom in the hearts and minds of people and gave an undying lesson to his oppressed nation through martyrdom.
“My only crime is that I have rebelled against slavery, oppression, poverty, ignorance and exploitation of my peopleMy only crime is that I have rebelled against slavery, oppression, poverty, ignorance and exploitation of my people” Maqbool Bhat.

Posted by shugufta | Report as abusive

> I hope they understand that J & K is much more than the valley and that the people of Leh and Jammu will oppose their being taken for granted and their call for independence.

Minor correction: Ladakh and Jammu. Leh is the capital of Ladakh.
(Ganesh Prasad)

Ladakh itself enjoys autonomy within J&K, forget about india.
70% of the area of jammu province observe shutdown as solidarity with kashmiris. I fail to understand what you mean. i think you are talking about 10% of geographical area of j&K.
but it is indian democracy that has taught me that even if you boycot elections, and only 8% votes are cast, indian democracy still elects members to its assembly.

Posted by moon55 | Report as abusive

where is my previous comment…. “World according to India”

Posted by moon55 | Report as abusive

Haleem and Shug,

Aren’t we going around in circles here? I have told you and given you my reasons why I don’t respect someone. In return we are back to the same story, Bhagat Singh, Respect our leader, old freedom fighter – terrorist debate. I may see your point of view but you dont see mine? Same old argument, different names maybe perhaps even different people!

Why don’t you give a reply to my reasons and tell me why I should respect that person. Just because some consider someone a leader does that mean that everyone else must respect that same person? George Bush, was the most powerful leader on earth, how many respected him? I wonder if you respect LK Advani even though millions of other people do? You have your reasons and I may even probably agree with them! I am sure there are some people who look upto Kasab too. Does that mean the rest of us must also respect him? I could go on and on…..

As for returning his body, I have already said that I see no problem other than the fact that again some ‘leaders’ will use it to generate more trouble. But why must I be forced to respect someone that some others respect? Specially when I have given my reasons and there is no comment on them.

I also do not see people coming out in the streets with contracted stones and pelting them at the security forces day in and day out as peaceful. More so when we hear telephone intercepts of ‘leaders’ berating the instigators for not doing enough, more people should be hurt and what are they receiving money for? Of course you will say this is all propaganda, like everything else that you do not agree with. You are welcome to do so.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

perusal of all commits leads this debate nowhere ..we have to recognize the difference of opinions but we have to adhere to universally accepted values.so for kashmir issue and its ramifications are concerned ,it is to be recognized by all concerned as a political issue and its solution by political means.i personally feel THIMPU thaw is a welcome thing and a forward moment is needed…..

Posted by waleekamil | Report as abusive

The biggest blunder the founding leaders of India committed was to give special status to Kashmir. if Kashmir was like any other part of India were any Indian could buy land and settle in Kashmir , it would have become a cosmopolitan state and it citizen would have made India proud by now, instead of having to loose so many bright and brave young soldiers in this unnecessary war and also loosing billions of dollars which India should have been using to improve the overall infrastructure.

Posted by avaran69 | Report as abusive

Its very surprising fact that what made maqbool bhat form JKLF in 1977???what was the motive behind it .There was no oppression of any kind on Kashmiris at that time.In any case with the kind of crimes committed by him(murdering an intelligence officer,bank manager and planning kidnaping of a diplomat) are unpardonable under any constitution in world.

Posted by koulvivek | Report as abusive

I take serious objection to the manner and style in which this article has been wriyyen. It seems the author is trying to insuniate, that Kashmir is not a part of Indian sovereign. This is with special reference to the last line “should India return the remains?”
As far as separatists such as Bhat are concerned, I’m sure he was hanged as per the due process of law. So, there is no reason to eulogize such an enemy of the state and give him such a heroic portrayal. This just seems like material for anti-India minded sycophants to lap up.. and who knows.. probably get inspired to take up arms against the state. You do know that’s a serious offence, right, Mr Mushtaq?

Posted by SSR3699 | Report as abusive