Maqbool Butt: The resistance patriarch

By: Azam Inqilabi

I and my poignant friend Maqbool Ganaie remained confined to a dark dungeon of a small house at the Rajdhani mountain (Rajouri) for several days to evade the snooping and prying eyes of the intelligence sleuths till a robust guide literally escorted us to Palani, a border village of Azad Kashmir, after an arduous night journey in the last week of Feb. 1969. We, as overzealous adventurists, remained negotiating the precipitous rocks and ridges of the rugged terrain of Rajdhani mountains for several hours. We followed in the footsteps of the astute and deft guide who adroitly avoided the minefields during zigzag scramble and traverse.

At the LOC, we waded a lustrous murmuring stream and entered the compound of a spacious house of a mountain hawk. The hosts were gracious enough to entertain us lavishly. We, after partaking of tea, recommenced our journey. We, after strenuously traversing two or three hills and perambulating the inhospitable border terrain of Azad Kashmir, reached Nakyal where FIU officers detained us for interrogation. We spent a month in the underground cells of FIU interrogation centre at Kotli.

We, after undergoing the overtaxing interrogation ordeal at Kotli, finally found ourselves lodged in the dirty cells of Muzaffarabad fort for further sustained interrogation. The revelation that I had been lodged in the same cell where revolutionary expeditionist Maqbool Butt had been languishing for about two months provided a psychological relief and respite to me.

Maj. Qiyani, the chief FIC interrogation officer, who was feeling skeptical and freaked out due to the misconstrued freedom resolve of Kashmiri freedom zealots, began to pose some ticklish questions regarding the guerrilla warfare of 1965. The brilliant and prescient guerrilla strategist Maqbool Butt had, through dexterous articulation, virtually vanquished Maj. Qiyani. So Mr. Qiyani was cautious while dealing with the two young enthusiastic freedom votaries who were lying in his custody as “suspects”. However, for me it was an opportunity to dilate on the strategic and tactical aspects and contours of the 1965 guerrilla warfare.

After one month we were shifted to central jail Muzaffarabad where we had an altercation with the jail superintendent who superciliously ordered about a dozen warders to beat us to pulp. The jail authorities, despite our hunger strike, did not relent. The jail authorities, due to their callousness, could not comprehend the nature of the metaphysical propinquity and proximity which had fortified the sentimental codependency and mutual emotional affinity of the civil societies of Kashmir and Pakistan. So we felt abashed, embarrassed, mortified and fidgeted. And we felt disillusioned with the system not the state of Pakistan.

The behaviour of the authorities at the helm of affairs did not augur well. It, in fact, portended and presaged something ominous. Eventually the veterans of Plebiscite Front (AJK) including Muhammad Maqbool Butt, Gh. Mustaffa Alvi and Advocate Ab. Khaliq Ansari came to our rescue. They launched a campaign on legal and political front to secure our release. Late Justice M. Yousuf Saraf was gracious enough to order our honourable release. The eight-month long “eitakaaf” and introspection ideally moulded my intuitional form as a freedom ideologue.

I had the privilege to interact with the guerrilla strategist Maqbool Butt Saheb at the residence of Mustaffa Alvi, the host whose compassion and devotion was a reference of pride for all the activists of Plebiscite Front. The elegant and graceful protagonist of Kashmir freedom movement explained with scholastic eloquence how the committed freedom zealots of Kashmir could force India to honour the pledge and promise of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the former Premier of India, to allow a referendum and plebiscite in Kashmir to determine the political future of Kashmiris as a distinct ethnic community proud of its Sufi culture. Maqbool, the doctrinist with exquisitely scintillating and radiant brain, could, through his typical dialectics, bring round dissidents and co-opt them for a heroic role in the resistance movement of Kashmir. Resourceful Maqbool was always discreet and circumspect in his approach and analysis while dilating on the topics related to politics and insurgency. His objectivity, prudentialism, idealistic absolutism, altruistic empiricism and scientific appraisal of the freedom dynamics would invariably galvanize him into activism on the political and militant front.

Maqbool, as an ambivert, could prophesy how consecrated efforts for a sacred cause could fructify if the adherents and devotees of the cause could sustain the freedom campaign with fortitude, determination, perseverance and patience. So the progenitor of the indigenous resistance and primogenitor of “freedom parivar” stands exalted as beacon light and pinnacle of prominence. Progeny and posterity will remember him with love and respect.

Maqbool Butt, the resistance patriarch, excelled all the contemporary resistance leaders as protomartyr who faced the gallows and kissed the noose with a tranquil heart adorned and embellished with monotheism and exuberant and ebullient love for Kashmir and Azadi. Maqbool, as an ideal monotheist, was averse to every sort of superstition, scepticism and cynicism. He would always repose trust in Allah Almighty. That was his way to create communion with Allah. His soul typified and epitomized Iqbal’s concept of Khudi. As a pragmatist he would always emphasize the dogma and doctrine− “self-help is the best help”. I listened to him with rapt attention when he addressed the Plebiscite Front convention in Nov. 1969 at Muzaffarabad. He believed that craving and longing for freedom without formulating a scientific and realistic blueprint was nothing but romanticism. So he was not a romanticist; he was, in fact, a pragmatist and empiricist with a vision regarding the objective of Azadi. Afzal Guru, the equally proud son of Kashmir, had the privilege to emulate his resistance icon Maqbool Butt and achieve the objective of martyrdom. Both of them are buried in Tihar jail Delhi. We pay obeisance to both of them for their exemplary sacrifice.

Maqbool Butt, the charismatic resistance icon, was gibbeted on Feb. 11, 1984 and his metaphysical disciple was haltered on Feb. 9, 2013. Kashmiris will continue to demand the transfer of their corpses to Kashmir for ceremonial burial. The arrogance of the egocentric imperialist rulers of India, whose hands are imbrued with the blood of innocent Kashmiris, does not allow them to relent. Machiavellianism and chauvinistic obtrusion of Delhi liege lords proved instrumental in the elimination and decimation of about six lakh Kashmiris during the past 67 years. Your draconian law AFSPA indemnifies your unbridled soldiers in Kashmir against accountability. Your overbearing and domineering demeanour emboldens your ruthless armed personnel to the extent that they relish the grisly and gruesome spectacle of carnage and mayhem here. Why should not the culprits of Pathribal fake encounter tragedy be brought to book? Remember that conscientious Kashmiris are not the gullible suckers whose resolve to resist your onslaught can be sullied and tarnished. Your expansionistic ambitions make you jockey for a position in the arena of global politics.

In Kashmir, the name of every hamlet and village is synonymous with Pathribal. The innumerable heart-rending tragic episodes of massacre and holocaust have irreparably tarnished the image of India as a democracy. Your imperialist mindset and fixation cajoles and entices you to replicate the role of the supremacist power USA, which is hell-bent on imposing its unilateralism-based order of interventionism in East and West. Nations in your neighbourhood look askance at you and, hence, cast aspersions on you. Your imperialistic protrusion and officiousness in the arena of global politics (with special reference to your surreptitious and dubious activism in Afghanistan) has jolted every sensitive analyst of the Muslim Ummah.

In fact, your simulated democracy smacks of your sinister motives and nefarious designs. So, hold back and condescend to concede to Kashmiris’ demand for right to self-determination. That is the way to scour off the slur, blemish and stigma.

Author is Patron JK Mahaz-e-Azadi. Email: