Three Graves, Single Story

“New Delhi cannot afford a political shrine in Kashmir, at least not for the time being”, he added.
Three Graves,  Single Story
File Photo

A Delhi based journalist was in Srinagar to report the aftermath of Afzal Guru's execution in Tihar jail on February 9, 2013. The people were expecting Guru's body but the Delhi scribe had no good news to give. He ruled out the possibility of return of Guru's body even as rumours to the contrary were rife. He also said that the people will forget the issue slowly but surely. "Afzal Guru has been buried inside the jail with a purpose. New Delhi cannot afford a political shrine in Kashmir, at least not for the time being", he added. He was proven right. Guru remains buried in alien land to this day.

According to an Indian Express report, the PMO after receiving letters from different quarters including the families of Maqbool and Guru directed the concerned to examine the demand. The report further said that the then Home Secretary, Anil Goswami called a meeting which opposed the demand on the ground that it was against India's Kashmir policy and may lead to trouble in the Valley. Security agencies felt it may lead to disturbance in other parts of the country as well. The report also said that the IB vehemently opposed the move. And as usual the Indian civil society remained mum in `national interest'.

The jail also houses the grave of JKLF ideologue Muhammad Maqbool Bhat. He was hanged on February 11, 1984. A grave in martyrs' graveyard, Eidgah is waiting for his remains. Another grave has been reserved for Guru.

A few years ago, the former Finance Minister, Dr Haseeb Drabu sought return of Yusuf Shah Chak's remains. Yusuf, the last king of independent Kashmir was imprisoned by Mughal emperor Akber. He died in Bihar and is buried along the queen, in Bihar. His grave is not in good shape and is craving for attention.

Dr Drabu's demand evoked massive response. People even talked of launching a campaign for return of Chak's remains. But as expected, the demand was forgotten and abandoned.

Kashmir was enslaved by Mughal emperor Akber on October 6, 1586. This marked the beginning of the end of Kashmir's independence. The fight for lost independence continues to his day.

The mighty Mughal army was defeated two times by defiant Kashmiris. Finally Akber resorted to cheating and offered friendship to the Kashmir King Yusuf Shah Chak.

Chak was advised by his ministers and especially by his queen against going to Delhi. But he went ahead saying bloodshed had subjected his people to inconvenience and sufferings. Akber arrested him and jailed him in Bihar. The king died in prison and was buried in village Biswak of Nalanda district in Bihar.

The defiant Kashmiris never accepted Mughal rule like rest of the sub-continent. They fought them for quite some time although the fight turned subtle as the time passed. Sensing the mood of the people of Kashmir, the Mughal emperor decided to bury the king in India. And, after five hundred years, the rulers in Delhi pursued the same policy. Maqbool and Afzal were buried in Tihar jail for same reasons.

The former government, however, did not take up Dr Drabu's proposal seriously and the matter died down. The civil society also forgot it after discussing it for a couple of days.

While the government showed no interest in seeking return of Chak's remains, the people of Kashmir irrespective of their political affiliations have been demanding the remains of Maqbool and Guru.

A campaign for return of their mortal remains has also been ignored. It continues subtly and is likely to haunt New Delhi, and the state government, for times to come. Few years ago, the Hurriyat Conference launched a signature campaign to `shake' the conscience of government of India. Hundreds of persons from all walks of life signed the petition on the very first day. Past experiences reflect that India does not care about peaceful campaigns. Many such movements have been ignored in the past. But, it is a reminder that the people of Kashmir have not forgotten Maqbool Bhat even after thirty-five years of his execution. He not only continues to live in the hearts of the people but is revered as a hero and a saviour. Similarly, people shall never forget Afzal Guru for the sacrifice he has offered.

The pro-Indian camp also tried to save Guru from execution but failed. A resolution to this effect could not be tabled in the state legislature for various reasons.

Admitting his helplessness, a former legislator said no member of the Legislative Assembly can seek the remains of Maqbool and Guru especially in the contemporary times when National Investigative Agency (NIA) has made the life of both pro-freedom and pro-India politicians difficult. He sees no scope for launching a campaign for return of Chak's remains. "It will raise many a brow in New Delhi."

din.zahir@gmail.com

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