Maqbool Bhatt (18 Feb 1937 – 11 Feb 1984) have grown into the most popular and iconic symbol of the national liberation idea and struggle in Kashmir across the line of division and amongst nearly two million strong diaspora in UK, Europe, Canada, USA and Middle East.Born in a small Trehgam village to a toiling and tailoring family, Maqbool Bhatt was dragged into the activities against feudal exploitation and elitism from childhood. At Baramulla College he campaigned against the removal and detention of Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah by the Indian government in 1950s.
He crossed the ceasefire line which divides Kashmir into the Indian and Pakistani occupied areas in 1958 and settled in Peshawar where along with studying Urdu Literature, Maqbool Bhatt worked as sub editor with a local paper called Injam.When Pakistanis tried to capture Kashmir through plan TOPEC, Maqbool Bhatt offered his services but was refused which led him to join Plebiscite Front in 1965.In 1966 realising that no one was listening to the peaceful demands for referendum, he created Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Front (JKNLF) along with Amanullah Khan and few others to wage armed struggle if needed.He along with some other members of NLF crossed back to the Indian occupied Kashmir and created underground cells of NLF supporters but the group was exposed within few months. Mr Aurangzeb, one of the NLF member from Gilgit was killed in an encounter with the Indian intelligence patrol party and Maqboll Bhatt along with ?? were given death sentence by the court of ???They were kept in ? prison from where Maqbool Bhatt along with ??? fled through a tunnel they managed to dig over many months. This act was lauded in Kashmir especially in the Pakistani occupied side as the most significant operation fro freedom in the post division Kashmir era. It made Maqbool Bhatt an undisputed leader of the independence movement. In 1971 he masterminded the first ever hijacking in Kashmir for which he along with the teenager hijackers Hashim and Ashraf Qureshis were applauded but when Indian closed her airspace for Pakistani planes in the wake of Bangladeshi uprising against Pakistan, they were put in prison and tortured to accept that hijacking was an Indian ploy.After two years of trial they were acquitted. In 1976 he went back to the IOK again and was son arrested and the death sentence was restoired. This time he was kept in the notorious Tihar prison of Dehli. He was hanged on 11th February 1984 allegedly in vengeance of the kidnapping and murder of an Indian diplomat R Mahatre in Birmnigham.His family was not allowed to see him. He remains buried inside the prison compound. He is described as the martyred prisoner. On 9th February ? Mr Afzal Guru, another Kashmiri fighting against the Indian occupation was executed and buried inside the prison.Maqbool Bhatt was a practicing Muslim but his politics was always secular and inclusive.Defining his struggle before a court in Lahore during Ganga Hijacking Trial when he stated that he was not guilty of any conspiracy against Pakistan but his actual crime for which they were tried was to rebel against the forces of obscurantism, ignorance, exploitation, nepotism and wealthism.By freedom he said we mean not merely the end of foreign occupation but alleviation of poverty and deprivation also.In 1983 Maqbool Bhatt summed up his political ideology in an interview with Kumkum Chadda, an Indian journalist in the following three questions:
KK: Are you religious?
MB: I have no pretentions of being a deeply religious man in the conventional sense of the term. Yet I do feel indebted to my study and understanding of religion in the development of my thinking and the determination of the course of my life. I think devoid of religion, the very moral and ethical foundations of social life are destined to crumble down. Apart from its historic role in the development of human civilisation, religion continues to be and will always remain in one form or the other an important objective condition of social life which simply cannot be wished away and will have to be taken into consideration by those who stand for reform and change. Personally I am a Muslim according to my own understanding of the faith – deen as Quran calls it. My study of Islam, although very meagre, has certainly played an important role in the development of my personality.
KK: What do you believe in?
MB: Equality of human beings, to be fortified by what ought to be termed as social justice constitute my fundamental social belief. All else in this connection follows from this basic source. Society as such means a lot to me. Without it, I think, I will cease to be even my ownself.
KK: What is your political belief?
MB: Freedom of thought, and in pursuit thereof the right to freedom of expression, action and association for all humans constitute my basic political faith. I believe a democratic order of society can best guarantee the fulfilment and realisation of this concept. The term political ideology has come to be synonymous with one’s inclination towards what is termed as right or left. I am afraid that is not the case with me. My political ideology consists of my faith in the right of all peoples to make and shape their present and future in accordance with their freely expressed wishes and aspirations through the instruments and institutions enacted and established by them without any external compulsion coercion or interference.