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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

31st Anniversary of Maqbool Butt: Protest in London (11 February 2015)

London (11 February 2015)

To mark the 31st martyrdom anniversary of Kashmiri leader Maqbool Butt Shaheed, JKLF UK & Europe Zone organized a protest rally in front of Indian High commission in London. Hundreds of people including women and children from different cities of United Kingdom participated. Protesters shouted slogans of “Stop Killings in Kashmir”, “Handover remains of Maqbool Butt”, “Handover body of Afzal Guru” and in favour of complete independence of Jammu Kashmir.

On this occasion “Torch of Peace” campaign vehicle also drew around UK Parliament, High Commissions, Downing Street (British PM office) and many other important government offices. The vehicles which have been decorated with banners, highlighting Human Rights violations in Kashmir drew lot of attention from the public and present in London.

A petition signed by 60 British & European Union 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.

Speaking on this occasion, JKLF President in Britain, Prof Azmat Khan, paid rich tributes to Maqbool Butt Shaheed and said that the only way forward for Kashmiri nation is to follow the teachings in practical terms and the ideology of this great Kashmiri leader.

The petition was handed to Indian Authorietis by Prof Azamat Khan, Prof Zafar Khan, Showkat Maqbool Butt (son of Shaheed Maqbool Butt), Sadiq Subhani, Najib Afsar and Irshad Malik. .

On behald of
Press Secretary,
JKLF UK & Europe Zone                     

Joint Letter to the President of India, Parnab Mukherjee
From the All Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir - UK

We the undersigned members of parliament would like to appeal to your office to order the mortal remains of Kashmiri leader, Maqool Butt, who was executed in Tihar jail, on 11th February, 1984 and buried within the jail premises, to be handed back to his family in Kashmir or to his children living in Pakistan
We make this appeal on humanitarian grounds as Maqbool Butt’s family members were not allowed to see him at the time of his execution and have waited long enough to receive his dead body for a decent burial in Kashmir.  
Sir Gerald Kaufman, MP (Manchester)              
Lord Nazir Ahmed                       
Sajjad Karim, MEP
Stuart Andrew, MP (Pudsey)    
Lord Qurban Hussain   
Linda McAvan, MEP   
David Ward, MP  (Bradford)                      
Lord Bill McKenzie
Timothy Kirkhope, MEP
Debbie Abrahams, MP (Oldham)                     
Jason McCartney, MP (Colne Valley)
Glenis Wilmott, MEP
Craig Whittaker, MP (Calder Valley)
Gavin Shuker, MP  (Luton)                         
Afzal Khan, MEP         
Simon Reevell MP, (Dewsbury)
Baroness Beverley Hughes       
Julie Ward, MEP
Lady Sarah Ludford, MEP             
Shabana Mahmood, MP Birmingham)
Ian Austin, MP (Dudley)
Alec Shelbrook, MP (Rothwell)
Phil Bennion, MEP            
Paul Nuttall, MEP
Fiona Mctaggart , MP (Slough)                       
Nick Dakin, MP (Scunthorpe)
Jonathan Lord, MP (Woking)
Andrew Stephenson, MP (Pendle)                       
Kelvin Hopkins, MP (Luton)
Sarah Champion, MP (Rotherham)
George Galloway, MP (Bradford)                 
Stephen Timms, MP (EastHam)   
Paul Bloomfield, MP (Sheffield)
George Moody, MP (Leeds W)
Hillary Benn, MP (Leeds C)     
Richard Fuller, MP (Bedford)
Yasmin Qureshi, MP (Bolton)
Arlene McCarthy, MEP
Linda Riordan, MP (Halifax)
Steve Baker, MP (Wycombe)                        
Khalid Mahmood MP, (Birmingham)
Andrew Griffiths, MP (Burton)
John Hemming, MP (Birmingham)
Chris Leslie, MP (Nottingham)
Graham Stringer, MP (Manchester)
David Blunkett, MP (Sheffield)                     
Rebecca Taylor, MEP
Lucy Powell, MP (Manchester)
David Nuttall, MP (Bury)          
Vernon Coaker, MP (Gedling)  
Dave Anderson, MP (Blaydon)
Edward McMillan Scott, MEP
Simon Danczuk, MP (Rochdale)
John Cryer, MP (Leytonstone)            
Richard Harrington, MP (Watford)                 
Lillian Greenwood, MP (Nottingham)
Kate Green, MP (Stretford)
Philip Davies, MP (Shipley)
Julie Hilling, MP (Bolton)                     
Mike Wood, MP (Batley & Spen)
Background Information
India and Pakistan continue to occupy parts of Jammu-Kashmir since 1947, when the British Raj was withdrawn, despite UN agreement and resolutions that have called for ceasation of hostilities and withdrawal of their forces. Over the past 3 decades India has tried to crush the freedom movement in Kashmir by using brutal force and draconian laws. Estimated  90,000 Kashmiri men, women and children have been killed and many of them buried in unmarked mass graves since the popular uprising in 1989.  Thousands have disappeared and many hundereds of Kashmiris are languishing in Indian jails without trial. The history of torture, rape and extra judical killings at the hands of Indian security forces is well documented. (Google: Human rights in Kashmir).     
Several of the pro-independence leaders are have been killed or imprisoned.  In 1984, Maqbool Butt, Kashmir’s most revered leader of the independence movement and a former ‘prisoner of conscience’,  who was imprisoned in Pakistan for his radical views and was labelled as an ‘enemy agent’ there, was 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’ and sentenced in absentia. 

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  was a cause for concern to AI as there was no apparent appeal for such a sentence under the draconian 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.
On 9th February, 2013 another Kashmiri freedom fighter, Afzal Guru, was hanged in India without a fair trial and secretly hanged without allowing his family to claim his body . His mortal remains have not been handed to his family to date. We demand that Indian government should allow the mortal remains of Maqbool Butt and Afzal Guru to be buried in Kashmir.

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 30 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 31 years, his death anniversary on 11th February, is commemorated 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. All such pleas have so far fallen on deaf ears as did the international pleas not to execute him.



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