Azadi demands sacrifices, says Maqbool Bhat’s mother

Trehgam (Kupwara), Feb 12: Shahmali Begum, mother of Maqbool Bhat, founder of JKLF, who gave the call of complete ‘independence’ on both sides of Line of Control (LoC) is still loaded with the ammunition of vim and vigor for a cause as she was while seeing off her son Maqbool triggering the wave of ‘Azadi’ in Kashmir. “Azadi demands sacrifices. My family will never shy away from sacrifices,” Shahmali Begum told Greater Kashmir.
Maqbool Bhat laid the foundation of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front with the help of Amanullah Khan. Maqbool returned home after four years from Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) only to be arrested and held in Central Jail Srinagar. After escaping from the jail, Bhat crossed the LoC again. Later, he was arrested from Langate, Kupwara, and hanged on February 11 in Delhi’s Tihar Jail in 1984.
It has not been easy for Bhat’s family to become the cradle of ‘resistance’.
Shahmali Begum has sacrificed all her sons in the struggle – four of them being martyrs and the fifth one, Zahoor Bhat was recently released from Jail. Ghulam Nabi Bhat, the eldest, was a part of JKLF too. Killed in mid ’90s in an accident, Ghulam Nabi is survived by an ailing wife and four children. Another son, Habibullah Bhat, went missing after his class 12th examinations. Despite frantic searches by the family, he couldn’t be traced and it was much later that the family got to know of his involvement with the armed groups.
After the death of his brothers, Zahoor Bhat, the youngest of all siblings, too crossed the LoC. “He followed in his brothers’ footsteps. He was in class 10 when he went to Azad Kashmir and got married there.
“I don’t have only one Shaheed, I have four Shaheed’s. I have no regrets. I am happy that I sacrificed these sons for a noble cause,” said 76 year old Begum.
Begum also said that she gets disturbed when government announces that it would give compensation to the families of killed. “We don’t need compensation,” said Begum.
Pertinently, the body of the Maqbool Bhat has not been handed over to his family after his hanging. But Begum said that “It is not only me who is asking for his mortal remains but the whole Kashmir is demanding it.”
Maqbool Bhat was born at Trehgam of Handwara in north Kashmir on Feb 18, 1938. Bhat did his early schooling in Trehgam, later he joined one of the finest colleges of Kashmir, St. Joseph Baramulla. “He studied History and Political Science and later joined a privately owned school in Islamabad (Anantnag)’ said his younger brother, Zahoor Bhat.
Later Maqbool crossed LoC and went to study law followed by journalism at Peshawar University. Later he joined a weekly magazine Injam as a subeditor. Later on he was associated with many activities on both sides of LoC which ultimately stopped after he was hanged in Tihar jail in Delhi.

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