Friday, 20 June 2008

Shaourefarda. Letters of Maqbool Bhat

To Azra Mir (daughter of G.M. Mir, the former president of NLF who now lives in Mirpur) from Camp Prison, Lahore Pakistan, dated 2nd April, 1973
Dear Azra Beitee (daughter)
May god always protect you. Your younger sister Rubina visited me on 26th March with your auntie (Maqbool Butt's wife) and gave me your letter.
As we were transferred from Kamelpur Prison to Camp Prison Lahore, it took me a little longer to write back to you. Although we were imprisoned here on a previous occasion but still the change caused various problems which kept me from writing to you earlier. Having read your views, I cannot explain in words how admirable and esteemed they were. Your letter shows that god has gifted you with the wealth of sensitivity at this young age. This is a great gift.
After reading your letter, I could not help thinking how sensitive you are and how much you are alert about the difficulty we are currently going through. I prey to god that he may increase your power of imagination and understanding and enrich the strength of feelings you have about our enslaved nation. May Allah enable you to become a daughter of Kashmir we could take pride in.
Dear Azra, I am aware that the problems we are experiencing have hurt you. I know that you have directly felt the pain and torture of imprisonment we experienced because your father (Ghulam Mohammed Mir) was with us during the stormy period. Your father's imprisonment brought the innocent faces of you and Rubina before my eyes, like two flower buds. I did fear that the wave of torture and oppression (brought upon us may depress you two. I remember the days when you and Rubina used to play with Papu (Javed Maqbool Butt) and Kaku (Shaukat Maqbool Butt) in the pleasant environment of Abbottabad, unaware all the issues around you. Who else can bear the sight of tears in the beautiful eyes of innocent children like you, but those heartless enemies of our movement?
The helplessness you felt out there kept us restless here inside the prison walls. But we faced every form of torture with the belief that this (new) challenge we are facing may temporarily deprive you of the love and affection you need but it will ultimately bring revolution to your thinking. That is exactly what has happened. Your letter has strengthened this belief of mine.
Now, let me explain to you how oppression affects the children of those who fight against it as opposed to those who are the oppressors. The children of the oppressors see the oppression around them but remain indifferent, whereas the children of Mujahids (freedom fighters) do not tolerate oppression. They feel the pain and wish to fight against oppression. The children of oppressors are provided with all the luxuries and comfort of the world, they have plenty to eat, (wear) expensive clothes and live in luxury houses but the children of Mujahids are not attracted to these kind of luxuries and comfort. They get satisfaction from struggling against the system of oppression. That gratification and satisfaction cannot be experienced with worldly wealth, expensive clothes or luxurious houses. That is why Mujahideen children prefer a day of freedom to a life of luxuries without any freedom. My dear child, the children of all the enslaved nations in the world not only have to suffer the oppression and suppression by tyrants, but also have to fight shoulder to shoulder, with there elders for freedom (from it). Slavery is such an evil where no discrimination is made between children, young and old. In slavery (situations) children are also affected by the torture and misery endured by their elders.
I will tell you a few incidents from history, which spell the hardship some children in our country had to suffer because of forced subjugation. It was around 1945 or 1946 when I was 8 or 9 years old. At that time the Dogras ruled Kashmir and the whole of Kashmiri nation was living under slavery conditions. One of the cruel forms of slavery is the feudal system. In this system the ruler or the king distributes land amongst his loyalists, who in turn become an instrument in carrying out the oppressive measure against ordinary people for him. It is this service which is awarded by the rulers through land distribution. These lands or fields are called Jagirs. The Jagirdars, the owners, do not offer any labour or till the fields. The work of tilling, seeding, growing the crops is done by the local peasants. All a Jagirdar does is to appear at the harvest time and take all the produce leaving a minute quantity for the peasants to live on. This Jagirdari system existed in our country during the Dogra rule too. The poor peasants had to do all the hard work but the landowner would take all the produce. The landowner in our area was called Divan, whom we had seldom seen. There were his agents called kardaar, whose job it was to collect grain and fruits etc once produced by the farmers. The year I am talking about had crops were poor due to bad weather. This left the farming families with very little to give to the Divan. Having given away all the produce it did not mount up to the usual season's quantity, which brought the whole area under the wrath of his agents. They started a series of crackdowns on the houses and stores of the poor peasants and many were whipped. When it did not produce results the Divan himself came to our village in a motorcade. This was the first time ever a motorcade came to our village. We were all amazed to see it. All the farmers in our village got together and pleaded before him for concession. They told him in detail the reasons for the low harvest but he did not believe them. He insisted upon having his usual share of the crops even if it meant that the children of the peasants had to starve to death. He also expressed his anger towards his agents and strictly instructed them to extract the full share. These agents knew very well that the peasants were left with nothing to be given to the Divan. But had no courage to argue with their master. As the jagirdar went to his car after giving instructions all the children of the village were told to lie down on the road in front of the car by their elders. The kardaar was also part of this plan. Hundreds of village children lied down in front of the Jagirdar's car and pleaded for concession and to write off the extra share or drive over them. I was one of those children and remember to this day the fear and chaos that ruled us. Everyone, young and old was in tears. They knew that if jagirdar left without giving concessions their lives would be made hell. Eventually, the jagirdar agreed to some amendments to his final decision.
This is just one incident that can give you some idea of the miserable conditions we the children of the poor Kashmiri peasants suffered during that period of slavery. Majority of our people were and still are peasants who suffer similar situations all around. They were forced to leave the country in search for work in the plains of Pakistan and India mainly in Punjab where they were referred to as Hattoos (luggage carriers). They used to work there for six months in a year and make small money to support their children and families. The other manual artisans and small vendors were also forced to leave there homes for various towns and cities across the subcontinent to sell their products. While they were away their children longed for the love and affection of their fathers. When this reality of slavery was realised by our nation (people), it was clearly thought that the only way to emancipate from the exploitation of the feudal system and to live an honorable life is to fight for freedom.
The fight initially began in 1931. In this fight there were two camps. In the one camp were the subjugated and wretched peoples of Kashmir and in the other were the rulers and their puppet officials, feudal lords and capitalists. The first phase of this battle was concluded in 1947. Scores of poor children had to sacrifice their parents and families who were killed in this battle. Thousands of young girls like your self had to live away from their fathers who were locked up behind the bars by those who defended slavery and exploitation. Then came the flood of 1947.
During these stormy period the situation took such a turn that we entered from one phase of slavery to another. Dogra-rule came to an end but in the process our country was divided. One part went under occupation of Indian army while the other though called Azad (free) has none of the features of a free place. During this chaos hundreds of thousands of old and young as well as children were martyred. The blood of those unaccountable children along with the older members of our nation flows into the plains of Jammu and Valley, in the hills of Poonch, Muzzafarabad and Mirpur in the mountains and of Kargil and Ladakh. No monuments of these children can be found but these anonymous martyrs are the pride of our nation. To be able to tell all the stories of these young martyred boys and girls of our freedom struggle it requires a massive book. Here I want to tell you only one fact that the invaders murdered countless children just like those merciless hunters who kill the sprinkling sparrows on trees during spring. Some of these children were killed with spears and swords by the communialist intoxicated with the influence of sectarianism as herds of sheep are torn apart by the bloodthirsty wolves.
My dear child, 1947 was not the end of that era of sacrifices by the children of our nation. It is continuing even today and may (well) continue till the whole nation is liberated. Our people are continuously making sacrifices both in the occupied Kashmir (IOK) as well as in Azad Kashmir (POK). On both sides children are growing under the horrifying shadows of slavery. Countless Kashmiri children have become orphans (without any one to care for them) because the destruction and killings inflicted upon us by the enemies of our freedom. Consequently they have been deprived of the essential provisions for the (good) growth and upbringing of children. The details of those past events are too long to be told here. Recently, two young boys were killed in London. They too were the flowers of our nations. Basharat and Hanif of Mirpur who had sacrificed their youthful lives not only remind us of our history and tradition but also set an example for the future. Every child of our nation should be proud on them.
Dear Azra, I have written all that to clarify what agony children of slave nations have to go through. It is also important that you know these details because you have a great passion for the freedom our country, which is obvious from your quoting the couplet in your letter, which states
[Kudda Ney Aaj Takk Uss Qaoum Ki Hallat Nahein Baddlee
Naa Ho Jiss Ko Khiaal Aap Appni Hallat Kay Baddlane Ka]
God may never help any nation which does not realise itself to change its outlook.
Also, your determination is praiseworthy because you have expressed in your letter that: "We will not refrain from giving the last drop of our blood for the freedom, sovereignty and prosperity of our beloved Kashmir." I am greatly impressed by this passion in you. May Allah keep you on the right path, enhance your mind and fulfil your aspirations.
Now let me comment on some of your other views, which you have described in your letter. You say that you know the details of difficulties and oppression we went through, which makes ones heart sink but there are such stonehearted and ignorant people who enjoy and make fun of such stories. We must remember that only those peoples feel the pain in stories of repression who have them selves suffered or fought against it. The hard-hearted people or those who have not suffered would not understand such stories. They neither enjoy nor are saddened. However, there is a class of people who take pleasure in such stories. This is the (class of) repressors and their quislings. If people laugh at the torture and oppression we suffered for the freedom of our country then you can be sure they are the enemy of freedom of whole Kashmiri nation. They are the supporters of repression and enemy of justice and rights. Such people never last long and usually face humiliation within their lifetime. The righteous people always rise victorious with truth and justice. At the end such people look at themselves and are shamed.
You have also written that Kashmiris have sacrificed their lives for Pakistan but Pakistan brands them as 'agents'. Here, your views are slightly misplaced. It is not Pakistan that accuses Kashmiris of spying but the ruling traitors of this country. It is the same bunch of rulers who has denied the peoples of this country freedom and democracy and eventually disintegrated it. Indeed, the role these bunch of traitors have played has been far worse than spies. That is why they brand all patriotic (Kashmiris) and friends of (our) people as foreign agents or spies. These rulers who committed crimes against their own people and called authentic leaders as 'agents', accuse us (Kashmiris) of spying but we should not get angry. As for the actual Pakistan, the people of this country are concerned they will accept the truth when it is brought before them. The sentence given to us is not the (work of) real Pakistanis. The cruel (men) of ruling (class) who open fire on their own people are responsible for our sentence. Obviously the rulers who declared war against their own peoples can not offer anything to anyone else but injustice. Pakistani ruling class never ever supported Kashmiris in their fight for freedom, as they should have done. Indeed this class has no interest in the freedom of Kashmir. What ever they say is merely a lip service and must not be trusted.
However the peoples of Pakistan are our true supporters and friends. We will certainly have their support. The (ordinary) people of Pakistan have sincerity as well as sympathy for us. Whenever Kashmiris move forward the peoples of Pakistan will support them. You are right that by branding Kashmiri freedom fighters as 'agents' these rulers have actually served India. Perhaps it is the result of this hypocrisy (double policy) that they (Pakistani rulers) are faced with a humiliation at the end.
You (say that you) are happy about our determination to stand up for (our) right and did not give up the just cause during these challenges. This has only been possible with God's blessings by keeping us on the right path though out. Please pray to the almighty Allah that we stay on the right path in the future. Only then the National Liberation Front (NLF), Inshallah, will achieve bigger and greater successes.
The suggestion that 'Kashmiris have been brought to the point of neither here nor there' is a mistake. We were the true sons of the soil, we are and will remain so. The passion (flame) for freedom we possess will remain in us forever.
We will confront any force on earth that may come in our way in order to achieve our freedom. As you have rightly pointed out, the blood Kashmiris have given for the freedom of our country will never be wasted in vein. The blood of (our) martyrs brings the goal for freedom nearer. You are quite right that those who fight for the right and just cause have to go through tests and trials. Yes that is what makes them so noble - as they face all such challenges with patients and courage.
The prayer, which rises from the bottom of your innocent heart will surely be answered by the God almighty, as it is his promise to mankind that no power on earth can fail them as long as they are on the right path.
Rubina and Papoo tell me about you good health and that you are paying proper attention to your education. You (may) know that real power and wealth human beings may possess is the knowledge they acquire. This wealth can neither be stolen nor spent. Without 'knowledge' human beings are mere animals. That is why I hope that you will give even more attention to your studies.
Give my regards to your Ammee Jaan and lots of love to Beitee Rubina.
Yours loving uncle,
Muhammad Maqbool Butt


From Central Jail New Delhi, dated 2nd May, 1980
To Akraam Ullah Jaswaal, a Plebescite Front activist from Azad Kashmir
Dear Jaswaal Saib,
AslamoAlakum
I received your letter some time ago. A number of reasons kept me from writing a reply. I apologise for any concern this delay may have caused. The significance of correspondence between friends can not be denied. Once again, I am extremely sorry for my inhibition to write for many years. The reason, however, has never been that I had forgotten you. I hope you will not take the following explanation as an excuse. We often find ourselves, despite the desire, unable do what we want to do due to the unfavourable conditions. To describe and explain this aspect of prison life requires writing a book, but the saying that 'a prisoner is not supposed to be able to choose', explains our condition in prisons quite well.
You may find it surprising that it took me years of knocking at the judge's doors to win access to some writing material. You have rightly pointed out that I do not write about the misery of the (present) conditions around me. Not that I can not write, but because crying about the harshness of conditions is not my style. This letter is primarily an acknowledgement of your letter for which I am sure you will have been awaiting anxiously.
As for my feelings on receiving your letter it may look poetic but it was like a breath of morning breeze in a suffocating atmosphere. It revived all those delightful memories of the immortal relationship between us that can be rightly called as the most valuable common wealth of human life. I am hopeful that despite 'personal' reasons described in your letter you will continue writing letters to me at least for my sake, as these letters are the greatest gift I can have here in prison. What the officials do with these letters does cause worries but it should not put off committed friends like you.
Coming back to your letter. I have read it again and again not only because it was from you but also because I wanted to get the picture between the line. It transferred quite a lot on the paper out of pain and sympathy. However, what you wrote may be of great value when judged wisely and rationally under the existing conditions. For those who are involved passionately in changing these conditions and are determined to do so at any cost may have different criteria of judging and monitoring the current events. Of course eagerness and wish-full (thinking) have a place in life and reasons for it but life can not revolve around this tendency (all the time). Those who love to and are commitment to achieving (their goal) know that patience is a necessary quality for success.
An English writer wrote somewhere that nothing succeeds like a success, but it is equally true that nothing fails like a failure. If the goal is to grab power and leadership the above saying may have a value of maccavlian prescription, which involves superficial demands and compromises but the goal of making history requires completely different approach. For history is made by the kind of people who direct their theories and practices towards a fresh approach. They challenge and rebel against the established official people and values. Here are some points about this breed of people. Did Aristotle not have to drink poison? Did the messenger of (Allah) in his time jump into the fire of Nimrod? Did Jesus (Christ) not have to kiss the gallows (the cross), which was erected by the rulers of the time? Did our prophet (pbuh) show signs of desperation and anxiety when he was tortured and stoned in the markets of Taaeif? Did Gotham Buddha ever compromise with Brahaminic exploitations?
Take a look at the (rights) movement of Martin Luther King, the ideologies of Marx and Engles and the rise of anti-colonial movements for national liberation. Did any of these people compromise with the establishment values in their times?
There are several examples in history, which suggest that those who laid foundations for the (revolutionary) movements did not physically survive beyond the initial stage of maturity of their ideas. But that does not underestimate their role in the success of struggles in the light of their ideas. As for their historical role they remain the founding fathers of such struggles. This topic is too big to be covered in the space of this letter. Suffice to say that those who love an identity and chose to devote their life for (a cause) can not even dream of giving up let alone actually giving in. The simple reason is that giving up one's identity staggers the whole process of evolution of man's qualities, belief and commitment and may have consequences for the humanity (as a whole).
We should be wary of the time when man becomes slave for compromising on a belief and gives up the path of sacrifice and devotion. The human beings will then become walking corpses and society will become their graveyard. With this in mind your suggestion can be viewed in mildest terms as unacceptable.
You know that national identity takes shape by many (influential) factors and through several historical processes. It does not take form out of mere claims nor vanishes if some (individuals) give it up. It is a gift from nature. Once established no power on earth can dismantle it. Therefore, it is unthinkable and sinful to even think of division of our country, which as has a direct bearing on giving up our national identity.
Historical facts stay firmly rooted in history on their own merit and cannot be altered by the frailties of some individuals. However, being unable to cope with demands of history's course of action and opting out for opportunism and superficial actions by individuals or parties due to their frailties is a separate issue. Who knows better than yourself that under no circumstances can we be compelled to join that kind of people.
As for peace, who in the whole wide world does not wish peace and tranquillity (in our region)? But not being able to distinguish between the peace and calm in a graveyard and the peace and tranquillity of blooming life is a sign of naivete. The peace and tranquillity at the cost of just aspirations and wishes (of our people) overshadowed by constant terror and fear is no peace. To dream of such 'peace' is a mere corruption of mind. Indeed arguing for such peace is asking to accept the death of aspirations.
As this letter has gone too long, the topic has to be ended here. Worries about me should not occupy your mind too much. Just pray to god as whatever he will decide about me will in the long run prove to be best for all of us.
I am sorry to hear about the difficulty you are going through in your personal life. I pray to God to ease your problems as nothing else can be done from afar? The news that our respected friend Muhammed Zaman Abbasi has passed away is extremely disturbing. May god almighty bless his soul and award him heaven and give courage to his grieving family. Please express my condolences to all the family.
It also saddens me to know that respected Mir Hadayat Ullah had a heart attack but I am pleased that he is watching his diet and does not keep too much on his mind. This should improve his health. Give my sincere regards to Ansari saib, Bashir Tabbassam saib, Sufi Zaman saib, G.M. Mir saib, Muhammed Saddique baba, Dr. (Farooq Haider) saib and all other friends.
I received a letter from Dr. Saib in February and replied to his clinic address but did hear from him since. Convey my salaam to dear Naseem Lone and Nazaki Saib. I am aware of the former's sensitive nature and have had experience of it myself. As for saying that 'Koonj Bichhar Gaiee Daaroon Lubhdi sujnaa noon' (a heron has been separated from the flock in search for the beloved) is surely an expression of his sensitivity and points to a painful situation. Tell him that the actual tragedy, however, begins when 'Daar Bichhar jaey lubhda munzal noon' (the flock looses the way while searching for destination).
Pray to God to protect us from besieging into such a tragedy. Give my regards to Hashim and Ashraf. Delay in Hashim's appeal is becoming cause for concern for me. Please write to me about it in detail. Send my salaam to Dr. Bassat c/o Naseem Lone.
And finally! Do not think pessimistically that we have no friends. Those who are faithful and committed have the support and solidarity from whole of the universe and its creator. I am not being philosophical here but speaking out of my experience and consciousness.
I have to stop here as the space and ink are running out. Also this heavy letter will give reason to the 'Khudahee Faoujdaars' (the soldiers of god - sarcastic remark about postmen) to call it 'beyrung' (without postage stamps) and initiate an attack on your pocket. I do not wish that to happen. Enclosed is a paper for dear 'Islamabad Saib'. Please arrange for it to be reached to him. In fact it is a reply to his old mail I did not respond to.
You are right that I have reached a stage in life where my hair is going grey but what do I do about this heart which is continually teeming and blossoming youthful aspirations? As far as Darvaishaana style is concerned, this is your imagination. I do not even claim to have such attributes, never mind adopting them. The buzurgee (old age) and darvaishee (humble living) are specifically for your self. Physical ageing is an unavoidable process (of nature). What we need to seek from god is that he may not weaken our aspirations and ambitions with the weakening of our bodies.
Give my regards to all friends and your family members.
Lots of love to children.
Yours brother
Mohammed Maqbool Butt.



From Tihar Jail, New Delhi dated 7th August, 1981
To Mian Sarwar, a political activist in Srinagar
Seeking help from God, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.
Dear Mian Ghulam Sarwar Sahib, Assalam-u-Alaikum
I received your letter of 27th July a few days ago. Believe me, that epistle of love and the attached newspaper clippings have doubled the joy of Eid for me. Not only because of the sincere affection that you have expressed for me, which I shall always treasure, but because in my long incarceration this is the first letter that I have received from my homeland upon which malign fate has foisted the oppression and occupation of India.... I have to say that into this desolate dungeon, your letter has brought me a hopeful message of life....You cannot possibly imagine what a man who has been cut off by force of circumstance from his countrymen, goes through. The pain and anguish that this isolation nourishes becomes all the more intense when one thinks of all those who have dreamt of a free homeland and dedicated their lives to the realisation of that dream.
Jean Paul Sartre has thus described the (deterioration of the) relationship between tormentors and the tormented:
'The end of communication is the beginning of all violence; where communication stops, beating, burning and hanging takes place'.
For the fulfillment of my desire for my land and my people, I have gone through 'the beating and the burning' at the hands of those that deny truth. Having failed to break my spirit, only 'hanging' is left for them to try.
May the Almighty strengthen my resolve and fortitude and bestow upon me the patience that I may not waver in this final test.
I accept your affection and sincerity, but I certainly do not deserve the praise that you shower upon me. To stand up to and defy the standard bearers of tyranny is the greatest honour of humanity. The history of ripping off from tyrants their democratic robes' and exposing their monstrosity is as old as the history of man. This glorious chapter of our history has been luminescent for centuries. We have never had, nor shall ever have, a dearth of heroes, who as moths embrace the flame, are ever ready to lay down their lives for liberty. It is a different matter that on several occasions during our struggle, we have faced a situation of 'Yeh Nadaan Gir Gayey Sajdoon Mein Jab Waqt-e-Qayaam Aaya' (when the test came the fools started praying instead of standing up) because of a compromising attitude of some of our comrades or again because of the machinations of some opportunists. But such temporary phases are common in the history of nations. They can never achieve permanence.
Nations survive because of that (strong) spirit, that abiding passion for liberty, which according to our Holy Prophet (pbuh), "emboldens one to recite the Kalima-e-Tawheed (the call for truth) before a tyrant, and that too with the conviction that this is the greatest Jihad".
I have never considered myself apart from this struggle for freedom that our people have embarked upon. Inspite of my weaknesses and infirmities, I have tried my best to discharge my responsibilities. In this never ending conflict between truth and falsehood, those who respond to their conscience and identify themselves with the standard bearers of truth, covet no rewards and desire no praise. This long and trying struggle sees many crests and troughs. The passage of time and unfavorable circumstance may affect its intensity but cannot put and end to it. It is the greatest duty of every upholder of truth to continue this struggle in all its intensity. Negligence can only lead to a state where not only does humanity lose the purpose and meaning of our existence but slows down that current of noble deeds that has sustained prophets and those that revolutionised human life. We can not claim to belong to that category of benefactors of humanity, but inspite of our vulnerability we can benefit by following their example. As long as the gloomy night of oppression hovers over us, we have to go on illuminating the scaffolds and gallows with out heads.
I am convinced that only those who struggle with a firmness of faith, enjoining truth and patience can deliver humanity from a fearful disaster. Pray that the Almighty Allah include us amongst righteous. It is possible that you (may well) be bored with what I have written in a spate of emotions, but you can understand that except for my ideas and feelings, I have nothing that I can bequeath to those who remember me.
You have mentioned your efforts to get my 'sentence' reduced; I express my gratitude to you. You have based your efforts on the premise that the 'crimes' that I have been accused of are a result of my political convictions. What were these crimes? How were they investigated? How was the case against me framed? And in the process, how were law and justice torn to shreds? Who played what role in this farce? What manipulations took place to get me liquidated? All this shall remain a mystery for now! A whole book is required to narrate the full (story); a letter is all too brief for the task. I am certain that the time shall soon come, when I shall recount the facts of this so-called case (against me) in people's court. If the local administration feels that the requirements of law and justice have been met, why are the proceedings not being made public?
The press clippings attached with your letter have made me aware of the public outcry evoked by the proposed decision to carry execute the 'sentence' against me. Please convey my gratitude to all leaders, eminent citizens, organisations and institutions that have played a principal role in this.
By the grace of God, I am in perfect health. I spend my time with forbearance in this 'death cell', where I was shifted to in the last week of May this year. Since then I have not been back to the security ward where I was incarcerated for the past five years, I feel that the government has not reviewed the decision to carry out the sentence. So things are as they were. Let us see which way the wind blows.
To you, and through you, to all my countrymen, my regards.
Soliciting your prayers
Mohammad Maqbool Butt