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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

30th Anniversary of Maqbool Butt: Protest in London (11 February 2014) Press Release

(London - 12th February 2014): JKLF UK & Europe Zone organized a protest rally in front of Indian High commission in London on 11 February 2014 to mark the 30th Martyrdom Anniversary of Maqbool Butt Shaheed. Protesters shouted slogans of “Stop Killings in Kashmir”, “Handover remains of Maqbool Butt & Afzal Guru” and in favour of complete independence of Jammu Kashmir. Graham Williamson of Nations Without States also joined the protesters.

A petition signed by over 50 British Parliamentarians was also presented to the officials of the high commission on this occasion. The petition asked the Indian President Pranab Mukherjee to handover the mortal remain of Maqbool Butt Shaheed to his relatives for proper burial.

Press Secretary,
JKLF UK Zone                     
Web:            /           www.JKLF.ORG

JKLF UK Zone                     

Maqbool Butt: Background Information

Maqbool Butt, Kashmir’s most revered leader of the impendence movement and a former ‘prisoner of conscience’,  was imprisoned in Pakistan for his radical views and was  labelled as an ‘enemy agent’ there, but ironically hanged by India on 11 February, 1984, exactly one week before his 46th birthday.  He was executed inside Delhi’s Tihar Jail where he had been imprisoned for 8 years awaiting trial of a politically motivated case against him.

According to Amnesty International Annual Report (1978), who campaigned for his release from prison for many years, he had been sentenced to death for a murder charge under section 3 of the ‘Enemy Agents Ordinance’. In its annual report in 1982, Amnesty International highlighted this case again and stated that “members of political parties have been sentenced to death following conviction for murder”. The death penalty imposed on Maqbool Butt by a Srinagar High Court judge some 14 years earlier in absentia was a cause for concern to AI as there was no apparent appeal for such a sentence under that law. In its 2008 report entitled, ‘Lethal Lottery; Death Penalty in India’, Amnesty International highlighted the missing record of his appeals in the Indian supreme court and expressed concerns that “no court judgements in his case are available”.

The Maqbool Butt story did not end in 1984 with his hanging. Indian authorities refused to hand over his body to his relatives and buried him inside Tihar jail.  A petition in high court seeking permission to remove his remains to his birthplace in Tregham, district Kapwara (J&K) was refused by India.

According to ITN news reports thousands of Kashmiris took to the streets of London to protest against Maqbool Butt’s hanging in India in 1984. For the past 28 years JKLF members in UK have regularly petitioned Indian government through its mission in London to demand the return of his remains.  Maqbool Butt’s two brothers, Ghulam Nabi Butt and Manzoor Butt were also killed in Kashmir in the 1990s but his 3 surviving children still live in Pakistan or in Azad Kashmir. With the outbreak of armed movement in J&K in 1988, Maqbool Butt’s grave in Tihar jail became the most revered tomb for Kashmiri prisoners until it was reportedly desecrated by prison authorities a few years ago. For the last 28 years, his death anniversary on 11th February, is commemorated every year on both sides of Kashmir when Kashmiri men, women and children take out protest rallies in every town and city demanding that his body should be handed over to his family for Islamic burial in Kashmir.           /           www.JKLF.ORG


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