Sunday, 3 February 2013

Holy cows of Kashmiri nationalism- who conspired against Maqbool Butt?

Holy cows of Kashmiri nationalism- who conspired against Maqbool Butt?
Dr Shabir Choudhry     3 February 2013

Holy cows always have myth surrounding them that they are loyal, sincere and patriotic to the cause, hence above the law and criticism. Like holy cows in Pakistan, holies cows in Jammu and Kashmiri also hold special status and many regard it a sin to question their integrity or dedication and they get away with all kinds of blunders and betrayals.

Maqbool Butt 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. Like in the past, on this 11 February, people will again call strikes and hold demonstrations to express their loyalty to Maqbool Butt and to his cause of united and independent Jammu and Kashmir. However, not many have shown interest to find out what exactly happened in February 1984, and why he was hanged. Before the kidnapping of the Indian diplomat, many, including his attorney thought they had a strong legal case to get him released, but this incident of killing of the Indian diplomat changed everything; and he was hanged in retaliation.

If a national hero of another normal nation was a victim of some conspiracy, there would have been organisational enquiry and may be some investigation by some impartial body to establish what happened and if there was any malice behind this. But this is Jammu and Kashmir; and people get away with all sorts of blunders here, as there is no system of accountability; and if anyone dares to ask a question related to this tragic incident that person would be declared traitor and agent of some country.

No matter what holy cows say, or what their puppets accuse me off, I think it is only appropriate that on the occasion of 29th death anniversary of Kashmiri national hero, this incident is analysed in light of available information.

All Kashmiri nationalist groups claim to adhere to struggle and policies of Maqbool Butt, as he was fighting for rights of all the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir. However, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front leaders and members give this impression that he was a member and a leader of their party. This is not true. JKLF was formed in Britain in 1977; and Maqbool Butt was in Tihar Jail of New Delhi since 1976.

JKLF members and Pakistan Peoples Party members have many things in common – they are emotional and blindly follow their leaders; and many of them are less educated and refuse to read or listen to anything that is against their party leaders. So one cannot expect anyone from the JKLF ranks to do any research or read or write with an open mind on the Kashmiri struggle and see what went wrong that despite huge sacrifices we are nowhere near to our most cherished goal of independence.

Some educated members of other nationalist parties know some facts about the Kashmiri struggle. They also know who did what to sabotage the Kashmiri struggle for independence; and above all, who got Maqbool Butt hanged. Some of them, at times, try to speak out about these facts, but after strong resistance and abuse from the JKLF members and touts of secret agencies they also give up. Educated members of other nationalist parties don’t even want to talk about these matters because they fear they will be accused of being ‘anti movement’, anti Pakistan and anti JKLF.

On the other hand, my policy has been different – I have consistently tried to present facts to the people whether they are mentally prepared to accept them or not. I have tried to expose all those who have either deliberately harmed the Kashmiri struggle; or acted as proxies of those powers who occupy us. Time and again, I have been advised by friends and sympathisers to remain quiet; but I have ignored this advice and have continued with my jihad of telling truth; and I have paid a big price for this.

Events leading to martyrdom of Maqbool Butt

1.    Maqbool Butt lived in a Pakistani city of Peshawar. With a few colleagues, he crossed the Cease Fire Line in June 1966 to organise an armed struggle on the Indian side of Kashmir. He was arrested and accused of being a Pakistani agent. He was sentenced to death on charges of a murder; but he managed to escape from the Srinagar Jail in December 1968. On reaching Azad Kashmir he was arrested by the Pakistani secret agencies and kept in prison on charges of being an Indian agent.

2.    In 1976, Maqbool Butt with his two colleagues, Riaz Dar and Hameed Butt, once again crossed over to the other side to organise the armed struggle. He was arrested again. This time he was held at top security prison in New Delhi called Tihar Jail. His old sentence of death was reinstated.

3.    Point to be noted here is that despite reinstatement of his old death sentence, between 1976 and February 1984 death sentence was not executed - he was still alive. However, after the murder of a low ranking Indian diplomat in Britain, Maqbool Butt was hanged within few days.
Some senior people in the JKLF knew that Amanullah Khan had set up this Kashmir Liberation Army; and got some special powers from the Working Committee to deal with these matters. At least, I did not know about the existence of the Kashmir Liberation Army until it was flashed in the media.

Evidence against Amanullah Khan in this regard was very strong- a letter written by him in his own handwriting; and addressed to Dr Farooq Haider and Hashim Qureshi. I don’t know how many people had a copy of this letter, and whether Nazir Gilani had it or not. I got this letter in late 1980s, which was written by Amanullah Khan, in which, apart from many other things, he confirmed that he set up the Kashmir Liberation Army; and that he would take all appropriate actions related to militancy.

In this letter, Amanullah Khan confessed or took credit for many things, which if made known to the public, especially to the British or the European countries; it could have seriously damaged the JKLF and Amanullah Khan. Despite my serious disagreements with Amanullah Khan and his JKLF, I did not make this letter public.
However, now in January 2013, when Hashim Qureshi has published this letter on social media, I see no point in holding it back; and I am also producing translation of the letter. Important point here is that it was members of the Kashmir Liberation Army who kidnapped and killed the Indian diplomat in Birmingham. The police could not find all the people involved in this matter – setting up of the Kashmir Liberation Army, those who planned kidnapping and murder, provided logistics, and executed it. Just imagine if this letter written by Amanullah Khan in his own handwriting was made available to the British police, then what would have been the position of Amanullah Khan, the JKLF and many others.

Amanullah Khan wrote:


‘Brothers Dr Sahib (Farooq Haider) and Hashim Sahib Aslamo alaikam
I hope you people are well.

Did you receive the packets I sent with Abid Hussain, inform me?

Srinagar has published my article, sending you copy of the paper.

We did not own the incident in Brussels because it could have had negative impact on a bigger project.

If Afzal Sahib (Afzal Tahir) had reached here, as planned, before by the mid February or after 11th March, then we could have implemented the planned projects. They were cheap (the one in Brussels only cost us £50). In total half dozen programmes were planned, and we only did one and Afzal Sahib came, consequently, we had to cancel all other programmes and pay attention to this programme because of its timing and importance – it could have produced significant results- at least, Butt sahib would have come, Hamid and Riaz too. Other programmes were trivial (in comparison).

The big mission proved failure. Sometimes, I think it was good it failed. Recently Guardian (London based important newspaper) published a long article that CIA tried to make this Conference unsuccessful. If our mission had completed as planned, then people would have linked that with the CIA and we would have suffered immensely with irreparable damage; just like it was claimed that the Ganga hijacking was carried out on behest of India to break Pakistan in to two pieces. Similarly, if we were linked with CIA’s efforts to sabotage the Conference, then despite it being totally wrong, we would have been embarrassed to show our face at the international level. And internally, our opponents would have effectively used this against us. So from that perspective, the failure (of mission) has great significance. Perhaps, Almighty has something better for us in store.

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.

You can add Ashraf (Qureshi) and Arif Kamal etc, if you wish, of course other people as well; but for others you all have to agree to it. This matter (militant wing) is separate from the JKLF; and JKLF funds could not be used for this, because the JKLF funds are audited and presented to the General Council; and we cannot present accounts of funds used for this purpose in the Convention......

In any case, militancy must be separate from politics. Like President of Mahaz - Jammu Kashmir Plebiscite Front- (Khaliq) Ansari Sahib was not member of the NLF, similarly many senior office bearers of the JKLF are not members of the KLA; nor did they know anything about it. However, there is difference; NLF was formulated without approval of the Mahaz High Command because of their allergy to the militant struggle; whereas the KLA is formulated with approval (of the JKLF High Command).

I will send you details of the JKLF members who are part of the KLA, its structure and operations, and you people follow it. It will have three important components, namely, operational, financial and coordination. Those involved in the operational section, apart from the operational expertise, should be political mature....

Due to some unavoidable difficulties I could not impose strict discipline in the past, but I have to be strict in future. (Maqbool) Butt Sahib faced those difficulties partly because in the early days of NLF strict discipline was not followed in regard to membership; as a result in 1966, a man from Baramulla became a member and who led the Indian army to the house where Butt sahib was hiding.

Under the prevailing situation, we have to be extra careful. If you find a suitable person for the KLA and he is not a member of the JKLF, try to make him a member of the JKLF first and then recruit him for the KLA. Otherwise, we will face difficulties, as the party will have not full control over him. In this regard, we have some examples, Hashim Qureshi’s case was different, he was formally not a member of the Mahaz, but practically he was. In KLA we have to be very strict. I am trying to bring some people from over there (from the Valley), they won’t be able to come to England, however, they could come to other European countries, but not for a permanent settlement or work. However, I cannot say anything with certainty at this stage, there are difficulties in this regard, especially financial difficulties. Anyway, whoever comes here had to be a member of the KLA.

I wanted to name the militant wing as KLF, but there were some serious practical difficulties, that is why I named it KLA. Apart from that GM Syed from Karachi has also gave good impression. Lone Sahib said (in Srinagar Times) that Ganga was not hijacked by India or Pakistan. It was personal act of Hashim and Ashraf. It would have been better if he had said that NLF did it, instead of Hashim and Ashraf. In relation to Ganga case, I mentioned Bhutto’s letter and financial position of Hashim and Ashraf with a purpose in mind.

I take a leave now as it is time for me to sleep. It is 2 minutes past three at night, which mean 2 minutes past seven your time. When I phone you at 7 – 8 in the morning, it means 3-4 at night here. I work till that time and then sleep.

Amanullah Khan

This letter, written by Amanullah Khan in his own hand writing, leaves no doubt that Amanullah Khan was the man who formed the KLA; and Amanullah Khan was responsible for all the actions carried out by the KLA,  whether they were big or small, and that included the kidnapping and murder of the Indian diplomat. However, it is interesting that Amanullah Khan, on page 150-151 of his autobiography says:

‘During 1982 – 1983 we continued our efforts to get Butt Sahib released. In 1982, we carried out an action in New Delhi, which shook the Indian government, but we could not get Butt 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 Rawindera Mahatare from Birmingham.’

Readers can see it is a big contradiction. In his letter Amanullah Khan claimed that he established the KLA and claimed many actions carried out by his men. However, when the action carried out in Birmingham back fired because it resulted in imprisonment of some members and hanging of Maqbool Butt, Amanullah Khan denied any knowledge of the KLA. It shows how confidently Amanullah Khan can tell lies.

Further twist in the story is that Amanullah Khan, in his press conference held in London on 8 February 1984 (and published on 9 February) pointed out that it was possible that the Indian intelligence RAW might have used their agents to get the Indian diplomat killed in order to implicate the JKLF and get Maqbool Butt hanged. He said India wanted to achieve the following advantages by getting their own diplomat killed:

  1. The JKLF political and diplomatic activities and demonstrations held in various capitals of the world caused embarrassment to India;

  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;

  1. By hanging Maqbool Butt, India wanted to end fast growing popularity of our freedom struggle;

  1. By this action India wanted to damage relationship of Britain and Pakistan, because they deliberately fed wrong information to the media;

  1. The Indian government wanted to use this incident to topple the government of Farooq Abdullah.

Source: Daily Jang, London, 9 February 1984

Question is what was Amanullah Khan trying to prove? The Ganga hijacking took place in 1970, and it was claimed by the Pakistani establishment that India was behind it; and now the Indian diplomat was killed and he was saying that those who did it could be ‘agents of Indian intelligence – RAW’; even though he knew exactly who were behind this action.

Later on, it was confirmed to the entire world that those involved in this matter were people from Azad Kashmir, and moreover, members of the JKLF and the KLA; and it was he who set up the KLA, so what had the RAW to do in this matter? Was he trying to say that those who carried out this action were agents of RAW?

It must be pointed out that those who carried out the action sincerely believed that they were doing it to get Maqbool Butt released, and help the independent movement. Whereas, those who were involved in kidnapping and killing of the Indian diplomat had nothing to gain from hanging of Maqbool Butt, critics could not say same for Amanullah Khan, because he always use others to remove his opponents and obstacles in his path. They say, as long as Maqbool Butt was alive, people would not have taken Amanullah Khan as leader of the Independent Movement, hence, Maqbool Butt had to be taken out of the scene.

Senior leaders of the Jammu Kashmir Plebiscite Front have been accusing Amanullah Khan of Maqbool Butt’s murder for many years. The readers can see what Azeem Dutt, famous nationalist leader and former President of JKPF said on this topic. Azeem Dutt said in a reception held in Mirpur. English translation of what he said is as follows:

‘In order to strengthen Plebiscite Front and to promote ideology of an independent Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the divide, Plebiscite Front’s first President Abdul Khaliq Ansari Advocate sent Amanullah Khan and Sabir Ansari to Britain in 1977. As Plebiscite Front got stronger, conspiracies against it also started – first, name of the Plebiscite Front was changed in Britain to Liberation Front, which was part of the Plebiscite Front Europe Zone.

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 Butt martyred. Amanullah Khan acknowledged this fact in a public meeting held in Mirpur by saying that if this had not happened; Maqbool Butt would have died as unknown person in prison.

Later on he invited young men from the Indian occupied Kashmir to this side and continued non ideological struggle for 22 years. When his God Fathers refused to help, then so called mujahids and guerrillas started going back. According to one estimate about 15,000 to 20,000 people have gone back and taken oath that they will be loyal to India and will not take part in any struggle in future. Azeem Dutt said if the young men were equipped with ideological training, struggle was based on ideology and it was controlled by us with our own resources then this would not have happened. He said young men should not be disappointed because in struggle sometimes these events take place, and struggles do not end because of these setbacks. However, young men need to research to find out who is pioneer of this struggle and who is a traitor; and who has landed us in this quandary.’  

Source: Azeem Dutt’s statement, Sept 2012

And finally let us look what Maqbool Butt’s attorney and former Vice Chairman of the JKLF Bashir Ahmed Butt said on this topic. Although full interview has been produced in this book before, but because of the importance of the case and to refresh memory of readers, I want to produce excerpts of the interview which was held on 12 October 2006. Bashir Ahmed Bhat said:
Q. ‘Are you sure of it in terms of legal strength of the case or that you are
just moved by your emotions?
A. This I say as a lawyer. Death penalty can’t be carried out when there is no
original death sentence certificate. Supreme Court had sent the case back to the High Court on this ground and we were sure that Butt Sahib would be saved from capital punishment.
Q. Once more I ask you whether, as a lawyer, you believe that the death sentence was upheld because of Mahatare kidnapping.
A. 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 Mahatare’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.
Q. Does it mean that whoever, whether Hashim Qureshi or Amanullah, killed Mahatare after kidnapping, is the murderer of Maqbool Butt?
A. Yes, it is my conviction that whoever got Mahatare killed is the real
murderer of Butt. I had met Shaheed Butt. 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. He had said that he was being tried in another case, and until decision come in that, they could not hang him.
Q. Is it in Indian constitution that the death sentence cannot be carried out until decision in second murder case against the same accused is delivered?
A. Legally, yes. The first decision cannot be implemented till the decision in second case is given. It is out of my understanding that how Indian Supreme Court did it. Surely they did it because of Mahatare issue.’

Link to full interview of Bashir Ahmed Butt:
Bashir Ahmed Bhatt asserted that, ‘It is my conviction that whoever got Mahatare killed is the real murderer of Butt’. We all know it was Amanullah Khan who set up the KLA and not RAW. It was the KLA which carried out the action of kidnapping and subsequent murder, and not the RAW. Above all we know it was Amanullah Khan who ordered to kill the Indian diplomat, and not the RAW. Readers can draw their own conclusions, as to who is culprit in this matter.

It must be remembered that Maqbool Butt was out of the death cell before the killing of the Indian diplomat. He was in prison since 1976, and death sentence was not carried out. There was no original death sentence certificate in the file, and without that legally death sentence could not be carried out. There was an appeal against the death sentence; and Maqbool Butt was also facing another trial in a separate case. Legally when a case is being tried against the accused he could not be hanged; but all this changed after the killing of the Indian diplomat and in emotionally charged political environment many legal points were brushed aside and Maqbool Butt was hanged.

In this regard, Hashim Qureshi has compiled lengthy details about this incident in his book, ‘Unveiling of Truth’ to prove that Amanullah Khan was behind all this; and that he wanted to get Maqbool Butt out of his way.

Writer is a political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir 

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