Kashmir seeks return of hanged separatist leader’s remains
Mohammad 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?