A political shrine in Kashmir Campaign to bring home the remains

Kashmir was enslaved by Mughal emperor Akbar on October 6, 1586. His commander, Qasim Khan led the Mughal army and annexed Kashmir. This marked the beginning of the end of Kashmir’s independence. The fight for lost independence continues to his day.

The Finance Minister, Dr Haseeb Drabu sought Yusuf Shah Chak’s remains from government of India last year. The demand evoked massive response from the general public. Somebody even talked of launching a movement for return of the remains. But as the time passed, the demand was forgotten.

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 Ministry of Culture, it is believed, is working on a proposal to approach Government of Bihar to seek Chak’s mortal remains. The ministry needs some time before the process is actually taken up. A senior official of the ministry said, “The Government is eager to bring back his (Chak’s) mortal remains and bury them in Kashmir as a mark of respect to him.” But , it seems the government has abandoned the demand for obvious reasons. There has been no progress on the proposal since last year. Chak succeeded his father Ali Shah as the last emperor of independent Kashmir.

There are two empty graves in martyrs’ graveyard at Eidgah, Srinagar. One is awaiting the remains of JKLF ideologue, Maqbool Bhat and the other awaits Afzal Guru’s body. While Dr Haseeb Drabu failed to launch a campaign for Chak’s remains, the people of Kashmir irrespective of their political affiliations have been demanding the remains of Maqbool and Guru.

The government of India evoked severe criticism by burying JKLF ideologue, Maqbool Bhat and Muhammad Afzal Guru in Tihar jail. A campaign for return of their mortal remains has also been ignored. A senior New Delhi based journalist during his visit to the Valley a few days after Guru’s execution said government of India does not want a political shrine in Kashmir. He ruled out the possibility of return of Guru’s body even as rumors to the contrary were rife. He also said that the people will forget the issue and the campaign shall die down slowly but surely. “The bodies of Maqbool Bhat and Afzal Guru have been buried inside the jail with a purpose. New Delhi cannot afford such a measure, at least not for the time being”, he added.

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 says 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.

The Delhi scribe has been proven right but partly. The campaign has not died down but it has definitely slowed down. It continues subtly and is likely to haunt New Delhi and the state government for times to come. Three 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-three 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, the people shall never forget Afzal Guru for the sacrifice he has offered. Last year when his son passed the matriculation examination with flying colours, the entire Kashmiri nation came forward to congratulate and encourage him. The mainstream 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. However, they can still play a vital role in making the campaign for return of the remains a success. They must do the necessary ground work and try to table a resolution in the legislative assembly seeking return of mortal remains of Maqbool Bhat and Guru whenever it meets again. For the time being, they must join the campaign.