Recalling the moment when she heard about Bhat’s execution, Shahmali says: “News of son’s death is extremely hard to bear, particularly for a mother, but then I realised he would have attained heaven owing to the cause he and other brave martyrs of Kashmir espoused.”
“Before he (Maqbool) died, he was loved by his friends and family, but today 32 years later, he is loved and treasured by the whole world,” says 85-year-old Shahmali as she shows this reporter her three-storeyed wooden house where Maqbool would “plan and hold meetings with his friends”.
Maqbool’s three other brothers have also been associated with Kashmir movement. Shahmali says words fail to express her mixed emotions of sorrow and pride for sacrificing her four sons for the sake of the movement.
“Today also when young martyrs (militants), brimming with courage and ambition sacrifice their lives for Azadi, it sends a strong message to the world that Kashmir is a nation with a wealth of true heroes. How is possible in such a scenario that the freedom movement dies,” she adds.
Brief Family Profile:
Born in Trehgam in Kupwara district, Maqbool Bhat did BA in History and Political Science from University of Kashmir and MA Urdu Literature from Peshawar University, Pakistan.
He worked for some time as teacher in a private school run under the aegis of Falah-e-Aam Trust at Anantnag.
Maqbool had four brothers. One of his brothers, Habibullah Bhat was allegedly subjected to custodial disappearance when he had gone to meet Maqbool Bhat at Tihar Jail ahead of his execution. Ghulam Nabi Bhat, who was then acting JKLF president, was killed in an accident allegedly under a conspiracy.
Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, the then Divisional Commander of JKLF, was killed in an encounter with forces at Trehgam on October 4, 1995.
Zahoor Bhat, who returned from Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) in February 2009, was languishing in different jails. After facing seven consecutive Public Safety Acts, he was released in December 2015.
“Maqbool was the eldest of the four brothers,” says Maqbool’s co- ideologue Mohammad Afzal Mir. He said most people in Kashmir didn’t know exactly who Maqbool was until he was executed on February 11, 1984 in Tihar jail.
Mir remembers that at the time of Maqbool’s hanging there were stray protests in Kashmir. “But his death later gave Kashmiris a reason to fight Indian rule in Kashmir and his hanging came to be revered as a new resolve and strength of Kashmiri nation,” he adds.
شکریہ : رایزنگ کشمیر