In­car­cer­a­tion for What?

Southasia - - The Last Stop - By Anees Jil­lani Anees Jil­lani is an ad­vo­cate of the Supreme Court of Pak­istan and a mem­ber of the Washington, DC Bar. He has been writ­ing for var­i­ous pub­li­ca­tions for more than 20 years and has au­thored sev­eral books.

On the morn­ing of Fe­bru­ary 9, 2013, Mo­hammed Afzal Guru was hanged in the Ti­har Jail of New Delhi and sub­se­quently buried in­side. His hang­ing was car­ried out only two days be­fore the 29th death an­niver­sary of Maq­bool Butt, who was also hanged in the same jail on Fe­bru­ary 11, 1984.

Maq­bool Butt was a found­ing mem­ber of the JKLF (Jammu Kash­mir Lib­er­a­tion Front), along with Aman­ul­lah Khan. JKLF is now headed by Yasin Ma­lik who orig­i­nally came into promi­nence as a mil­i­tant fight­ing for Kash­mir’s in­de­pen­dence. He was ar­rested at the start of the mil­i­tant move­ment in Kash­mir dur­ing a po­lice en­counter and was in­car­cer­ated for six years dur­ing which he was se­verely tor­tured; the prime rea­son for his ill-health till date.

Upon his re­lease in 1994 on grounds of ill-health, Yasin Ma­lik re­nounced vi­o­lence, an­nounced a uni­lat­eral cease­fire and stead­fastly stood for a peace­ful method to set­tle the Kash­mir con­flict. He sup­ports the re­turn of Kash­miri Hin­dus back to their home­land and is per­haps the only leader be­long­ing to the APHC (All Pak­istan Hur­riyat Con­fer­ence) who stands for sec­u­lar­ism.

De­spite his whole-hearted sup­port for a non-vi­o­lent so­lu­tion of the Kash­mir im­broglio, since his re­lease in 1994 he has spent pro­longed pe­ri­ods of time ei­ther in jail or un­der house ar­rest, mostly on pre­ven­tive grounds. This goes to show the in­se­cu­rity of the In­dian State and the step­moth­erly treat­ment that the Kash­miri Mus­lims have con­tin­u­ously been fac­ing since 1947.

It is not easy for any Kash­miri Mus­lim to ob­tain a pass­port and it is dif­fi­cult if not im­pos­si­ble for a prom­i­nent leader to do so. Yasin how­ever, was even­tu­ally per­mit­ted to go to the United States for med­i­cal treat­ment as his con­di­tion was de­te­ri­o­rat­ing. He fre­quently vis­ited Pak­istan, to meet politi­cians and achieve a con­sen­sus on the Kash­mir is­sue. In Fe­bru­ary 2009, he fell in love with a Pak­istani girl, Mishal. In­evitably, his vis­its to Pak­istan be­came more fre­quent as Mishal was un­able to get a visa to Kash­mir for an ex­tended pe­riod.

Yasin Ma­lik was vis­it­ing Pak­istan for the first time af­ter the birth of his daugh­ter when Afzal Guru was hanged. Hardly any­body took no­tice and the Government of Pak­istan’s si­lence was no­tice­able although un­der­stand­able as Guru was ac­cused of involvement in a ter­ror­ist at­tack on the In­dian Par­lia­ment on De­cem­ber 13, 2001. How­ever, even the me­dia did not give it due promi­nence and politi­cians re­mained mum on the sub­ject.

Yasin Ma­lik chose to go on a 24 hour hunger strike in front of the Press Club in Is­lam­abad. Ev­ery­body con­cerned with the state of af­fairs in In­dian oc­cu­pied Kash­mir as well politi­cians, in­clud­ing the Prime Min­is­ter of Azad Jammu & Kash­mir, vis­ited Yasin Ma­lik at the hunger strike camp.

As luck would have it, Hafiz Muham­mad Saeed, Amir of Ja­maat-ud-Dawah, ac­cused by In­dia of be­ing the mas­ter­mind of the Novem­ber 2008 Mum­bai at­tacks, also vis­ited Yasin at the camp, sat with him for half an hour, and made a speech. Sud­denly, Afzal Guru’s hang­ing went into the back­ground and the In­dian me­dia ve­he­mently ac­cused Ma­lik of col­lab­o­rat­ing with ter­ror­ist Hafiz Saeed. Calls for his ar­rest and de­mands for the can­cel­la­tion of his pass­port were in­stantly raised.

On March 9, Ma­lik was at­tacked at the Delhi air­port by RSS hooli­gans and was de­tained upon his re­turn to Srinagar for an in­def­i­nite pe­riod. The Home Min­is­ter re­cently an­nounced that Ma­lik’s pass­port could be can­celled at any ap­pro­pri­ate time. It is cer­tainly a shame that an in­no­cent hu­man be­ing can be made a cen­ter of ul­te­rior mo­tives from po­lit­i­cal fac­tions.

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