Maqbool Bhat’s Execution – People who were responsible became his heirs
Shaheed Maqbool Bhat along with his two colleagues, Riyaz Dar and Hamid Bhat, were handed over to JK Police by people of Langate in 1976 mistakenly as thieves. He was sent to Tihar Jail, Delhi while other two were lodged in Central Jail, Srinagar. Since 1976, he had spent seven to eight years in Tihar Jail, Delhi till 1984 when he was suddenly executed by Indian authorities. Question arises what happened in 1984 which compelled India to send him to gallows? Only few people tried to look at this matter, whereas majority ignored it . Before I write on this matter, let me quote the final words of Shaheed Maqbool Bhat before his execution.
“I am being hanged immediately after Mahatre`s murder as a result of politics of revenge. I have no knowledge of the murder which has been carried out at Birmingham, a place eight thousand miles away from my prison cell”.
So, Bhat himself explained the reason for which he was hanged. The story is, on 3rd February 1984 Ravindra Mahatre, an Indian diplomat was abducted from his house in Birmingham. Kashmir Liberation Army (KLA), then militant wing of Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) claimed its responsibility. Group demanded Maqbool Bhat in exchange and besides one million pounds as ransom money. On 5th February, Mahatre was shot dead upon direct orders of its head, Ammanullah Khan and his body was found by the police in a farm.
Immediately after Mahatre’s killing, a high level meeting was called in Dehli which was presided by Indira Gandhi. In the meeting, it was decided that Maqbool Bhat should be hanged. The first headline which the BBC news bulletin broadcasted that evening said that in a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the Indian cabinet decided to carry out the death sentence on Maqbool Bhat. And just after 6 days of his killing, then Indian Government hanged Maqbool Bhat in Tihar in retaliation.
In addition to what Maqbool Bhat has said about his execution, many of Khan’s colleagues also spoke about the matter. Here I am quoting what his own men said about the incident.
“My firm belief is that if Mahatre had not been murdered, the Government of India would not have executed Bhat Sahib.” , Hashim Quraishi [11th February, 1988]
“The abduction and subsequent killing of Mahatre by so called supporters of Maqbool Bhat sent shock waves in Delhi, the events started moving fast and Indira Gandhi decided that enough was enough and Bhat should be sent to gallows.” , Zafar Meraj, editor of weekly AINA. [Maqbool Bhat – An Untold story by Zafar Meraj, 12th November, 2012]
“Maqbool Bhat was hanged in Tihar Jail in New Delhi, as a direct result of the kidnapping and subsequent murder of an Indian diplomat in Birmingham in February 1984. The incident of killing of the Indian diplomat changed everything; and he was hanged in retaliation.”, Dr. Shabir Chaudhary, one of the founding members of JKLF. [Dated: 3rd February, 1984]
Here is what personal attorney and former vice Chairman JKLF, Bashir Ahmad Bhat said about the incident;
” It is my conviction that whoever got Mahatre killed is the real murderer of Bhat… As a lawyer I assert that the point we had raised in the petition was quite valid and legal and it was impossible to carry out the execution but for Mahatre’s kidnapping combined with political pressure made the Chief Justice uphold the sentence. Every Kashmiri child knows that if kidnapping had not taken place then execution could have been avoided. From 1976 till 1984, a period of eight years, the death sentence had not been implemented.” [Dated: 12th October, 2006]
“As JKLF got stronger in Britain, Amanullah Khan back stabbed the Kashmiri Movement by establishing branches of the JKLF in Azad Kashmir; and later on worked as an agent of agencies, and without ideological training used some young men and got Maqbool Bhat martyred.”, Azeem Dutt, former Chairman Jammu & Kashmir Plebiscite Front. [September, 2012]
Even when Indians are asked, they give similar reason for Bhat’s execution. When Farooq Abdullah, the person who signed Bhat’s final hanging order was asked in an interview by Kashmir Affairs in 2006, he replied;
“What do I have to do with his hanging? He killed an innocent bank manager while taking money from the bank. He was later hanged because of Ravinder Mahatre who was killed by the JKLF in the UK.”
This is not all, Ammanullah himself once admitted this fact that killing of Mahatre in Birmingham was the cause of Bhat’s execution in Tihar.
“Amanullah Khan acknowledged this fact in a public meeting held in Mirpur by saying that if this had not happened; Maqbool Bhat would have died as unknown person in prison.”, Azeem Dutt.
But, Ammanullah Khan also denied this fact that he was the one who gave orders for Mahatre’s murder. He in fact, even refused to accept if he knew anything about KLA before Mahatre’s murder. He writes in his autobiography;
‘’During 1982 – 1983 we continued our efforts to get Bhat Sahib released. In 1982, we carried out an action in New Delhi, which shook the Indian government, but we could not get Bhat Sahib released. In this regard another very daring action failed mainly due to one accidental event and some misunderstanding among the people who were supposed to carry it out. On the other hand, some JKLF members formed Kashmir Liberation Army without the JKLF and my knowledge and approval; and carried out an action to kidnap Indian diplomat Ravindra Mahatare from Birmingham.’’ [Jado Jehed Musalsal page. 151-152]
Khan blamed Indian agencies for the formation of KLA and kidnapping and killing of Mahatre just after the incident. According to him, India wanted to achieve following advantages by getting their own diplomat killed:
1. India wanted to give a bad name to the JKLF in the world by presenting it as a terrorist organisation, and tarnish our image.
2. By hanging Maqbool Bhat, India wanted to end fast growing popularity of our freedom struggle.
3. By this action India wanted to damage relationship of Britain and Pakistan, because they deliberately fed wrong information to the media.
4. The Indian government wanted to use this incident to topple the government of Farooq Abdullah.
[Daily Jang, London, February 9, 1984]
But, here’s an extract from his own letter to Dr. Farooq Haider and Hashim Quraishi months before the abduction and killing of Ravindra Mahatre.
“This is to inform you that in the Working Committee meeting held on 4 January, I have obtained a mandate that I can introduce the third component of the armed struggle in the freedom struggle; and can take all necessary actions as I feel appropriate. Our Brussels mission and the big mission were planned as a result of this decision. Now, requirement is that you people keep this matter limited to some people. The name of this component, which hitherto, officially was not part of the JKLF, would be called KLA, meaning, Kashmir Liberation Army. Its working would be similar to that of NLF (National Liberation Front). Its membership would be issued after careful screening and after signing the oath with own blood. I have formally added you two and Muzaffar (Raja Muzaffar Khan), but I need your signature with blood; and ensure that they reach me safely.” [5th April, 1983]
It’s very unfortunate that these so-called supporters of Bhat who actually facilitated his hanging later on became his heirs. Summing it up in following words of Bashir Ahmad Bhat:
“I had met Shaheed Bhat. He had showed his willingness to file this writ petition and he was suspicious about his people that they might hatch a conspiracy against him.”
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