Kashmir shuts to remember Maqbool Bhat

Kashmir shuts to remember Maqbool Bhat

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SRINAGAR: JKLF chief Yasin Malik pays tribute; Protest marches held in Trehgam, Sopore to demand Bhat’s mortal remains; Mother, sister lead torchlight procession

A complete shutdown was observed across Kashmir on Saturday to mark the hanging anniversary of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder Muhammad Maqbool Bhat, even as ‘mild’ restrictions remained in place in a few Civil Lines and old Srinagar areas to prevent any pro-freedom protests. However, protest rallies were held in Trehgam, the native village of Maqbool Bhat, in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district and also in Sopore area of Baramulla to demand the return of mortal remains of the JKLF founder. Bhat was sent to gallows on February 11, 1984 at New Delhi’s Tihar Jail and buried there.

All shops and commercial establishments remained closed while thin traffic plied on roads in Srinagar on Saturday. The City Centre Lal Chowk wore a deserted look as only few private vehicles were spotted on roads. The Maisuma area of Civil Lines also witnessed curbs as forces had blocked roads with barricades and concertina wire.

In old Srinagar, all shops and business establishments remained closed while heavy deployment of forces was made on roads to prevent any pro-freedom gatherings. Mild restrictions remained in place at Nowhatta and Gojwara areas, reports said.

Various district headquarters—Pulwama, Shopian, Anantnag (Islamabad) and Kulgam—witnessed a complete shutdown to mark the day. Similar reports came in from central Kashmir’s Budgam and Ganderbal districts, as well as north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.

JKLF LEADERS HOLD PROTEST IN TREHGAM

In Trehgam, JKLF leaders staged a protest march to demand return of mortal remains of Maqbool Bhat.

According to a JKLF spokesman, JKLF leaders including Vice Chairman Master Muhammad Afzal, Organizer Mir Siraj-ud-Din, leader Zahoor Ahmad Butt, participated in the protest march.

Reports said the Front leaders held a procession from Bhat’s house which culminated at a local graveyard. The protestors offered special ‘fateha’ prayers for Bhat. Reports said Bhat’s mother, Shahmali Behgum (85) and her daughter led a torchlight procession. Pertinently, Shahmali’s three sons, including Bhat, were killed in last three decades, while her fourth son has “disappeared.” Mobile services, according to reports, remained affected in Kupwara district.

MALIK PAYS TRIBUTES

JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik, who was lodged in Central Jail Srinagar on Friday, paid rich tributes to Maqbool Bhat, saying his sacrifice, intellect and ideology not only represent the nation of Kashmir but all those oppressed nations and people who are striving for their freedom and liberty.

“February 11, the Maqbool Day, provides us a new hope and fresh energy to withstand against the forces of evil and oppression,” said Malik in his message from Central Jail Srinagar.

Terming Bhat as a symbol of resistance, resilience and sacrifice, Malik said the JKLF founder was an ideologue who not only offered an idea but also showed the practical way to implement that idea. “He was a man of practical (sic), man of wisdom and a visionary who saw a dream, pursued that dream with passion and sacrificed his life to fulfill that dream,” Malik said. “His sacrifice serves as a beacon-light for the Kashmiri nation. Soon after his martyrdom in 1984, Kashmir gave birth to a new breed of Maqbools who tread the footprints of the great leader and initiated a historical people’s revolution in 1990 and started a fresh resistance movement against the oppression, tyranny and injustice.”

Malik said the clear evidence of Bhat being alive is that today, after 33 years of his execution, he is remembered and celebrated throughout the world and Kashmiris living across the globe pay homage to him.

Meanwhile, a JKLF spokesman said Bhat was remembered throughout the world as Kashmiris living in several countries recalled his struggle, vision and sacrifices and held seminars, symposiums, rallies, exhibitions and protests. “In the United Kingdom, protests were held outside the Indian Embassy and a memorandum was handed over to the authorities demanding the return of mortal remains of Muhammad Maqbool Bhat and Muhammad Afzal Guru. Similar programs are being held in various cities of Europe, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Holland, USA and Canada. In Saudi Arabia a grand program was held in which Maqbool and his legacy was recalled,” the spokesman said. “In United Arab Emirates (UAE) a commemoration meeting led by senior vice chairman JKLF Abdul Hameed Butt was convened in which participants paid rich tributes to the martyr. Similar programs were held in other Middle East countries.”

The spokesman said ‘Maqbool Day’ was also observed across Pakistan cities like Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Gujranwala, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Multan. “Protest marches and sit-in were also held in Azad Kashmir cities like Muzaffarbad, Kotli, Mirpur, Rawalakot, Bagh, Hinjeera, and Gilgit in which the vision of Shaheed Mohammad Maqbool Butt was highlighted. Many such programs will continue for days ahead,” he said.__GK News

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