“It’s 11th of February, 1984 and I am back from my office. After a week long tour through the dense forests of Bandipora, I decide to move home. Meanwhile, a strange kind of silence has masked the roads and near Gulshan Chowk, in the township of Bandipora, a certain group of people headed by Nizam-ud-din Bhat( now PDP Leader) are protesting against the hanging of Maqbool Bhat. Nizam-ud-din is in a dire rage narrating before the people tales of Maqbool Bhat. To my damned shock, almost none in the group knows what they are protesting against. Nizam-ud-din however, urges the group to move and condemn the hanging of the man who had died for his nation- The nation of Kashmir,” my father closes his eyes as he tries to remember what exactly was the time when the town wore this scene.
As my father told me this story, I stood in a kind of dilemma and began wondering whether it was real. ‘Did people really not know him? Was this a kind of treachery towards the great man?’ And today, when I find students of different tracks ignoring the man called ‘Father of Nation’, I feel that people have been treacherous towards him.
Decades have passed and we still do not know about the man who taught us the meaning of freedom. We are witnessing a stage where people are running after fascists and have forgotten their own men, own history and own literature.
When I read Maqbool Bhat today, I get a feeling that he arguably was the greatest leader Kashmir has ever produced. He was a leader of great character and pellucid caliber, a fact that is also endorsed by the mainstream political parties of Kashmir.
He was not a puppet of Pakistan, like most of our leaders have turned today and his struggle was only to get freedom from illegal occupation of both India and Pakistan. By hanging him, India rode on the impression of crushing the freedom movement in Kashmir but it only inspired people in vast numbers.
The speeches, journals, letters and sayings of Maqbool Bhat aspire a feeling of proficiency in one’s mind. In his speeches, he has strongly ridiculed the ideologies of both India and Pakistan and has raised his voice for a healthy, affluent and educated Kashmir.
In one of his letters written to Mian Sarwar(an activist) in Srinagar, a reader moves into a great bit of deepness. In the letter, Maqbool Bhat moves from hopelessness to hope and speaks the words of a true revolutionary. It is not a new thing to encounter despair in his words and it is inevitable at the same time, to feel mortified at the loss and sufferings Maqbool Bhat or in general, we people have suffered. He urges us to carry on however, “in this never ending conflict between truth and falsehood.”
Maqbool Bhat also tells about freedom,”When you make yourself believe that you are free, you are free.”
The government of India, after hanging Maqbool Bhat did not return his corpse and we in Srinagar have ‘two graves, two epitaphs’ delineating two freedom fighters, the other grave for Afzal Guru, who was judicially murdered by the same country. When the government of India sets him free, we will roam- from North to Srinagar and we will croon- the songs of freedom.
I am writing to you from ‘The Country Without A Post Office’
Where you no longer are
We are with the resistance you offered-
Against the balmy political dozing
Against the bawds of occupying class
Against the erroneous leaders of our homeland
Your memories, your photographs, lie painted here
In our hearts, in our minds