A teacher, a scholar and a politician
Another 11th of February has come. A citizen of Kashmir, in whatever part of the world he is, remembers Maqbool Bhat, the martyr, on this day. This is the day on which Maqbool Bhat attained martyrdom by ascending the steps to the gallows of the Indian government. It brought him immortality as he paved the way for the freedom of Kashmiri nation.
People will copiously read and write on his political philosophy. Much has already been written. As a friend of humanity, a brother, a student and a politician, he had reached the pinnacle of glory. Yet he was extremely patient, unassuming and affectionate person. He accepted life as it came. He never allowed human desires to have better part of him. This was because he was always engrossed in the thoughts of freedom of the State.
|Hashim Qureshi with Maqbool Bhat|
I am reminded of an incident in Kot Lakhpat prison. We were sent to the prison in connection with Ganga hijacking case. Three out of six of us were given B Class. Bhat Sahib, Ashraf Qureshi and I were put in C Class. We lived together in a big cell. It was December-January of 1972. We were not given adequate number of blankets as was allowed to the convicts. Moreover the blankets were old and worn out. I was only 18 years old and Ashraf was two years elder to me. Being very young, we used to become sentimental. We would complain of cold. We asked the jail authorities several times to provide us with more blankets to protect ourselves from cold but to no avail. Once being taken out from the prison to the Special Court, Bhat Sahib happened to meet the Deputy Superintendent of the jail on the gate. I still remember what he talked to the jail officer. “Don’t you think that we are human beings? Don’t you think that we the prisoners also feel cold or hunger or heat? For three days we have been asking you for blankets to save ourselves from cold but our request have fallen on deaf ears. I have two young boys with me”. But the tone and tenor of Bhat Sahib in his conversation with the Deputy Superintended of the jail was markedly different from what his usual tone used to be. His face had turned red with anger. Talking to the jailor he had thundered,” Don’t think that by putting us in the jail you have made us prisoners. Remember that wherever we are standing, that place and that land get liberated.” Having said this, we headed towards the Special Court. He assured us that there would be more blankets than what they needed that very night. On our return we found that instead of three, fifteen blankets were placed in our cell. We distributed extra blankets among other prisoners who needed these.
In the cell, we three would prepare our response to the charges brought against us in the court. Bhat Sahib prepared his statement recording the event of his flight from Srinagar jail. He had also made a hardboard model of Srinagar jail which he later on produced in the court of law for explaining how he had run away from Srinagar jail. We read as many newspapers as we could while interned in that cell. Sometimes we would stray into the B Class cell of other three comrades, namely G.M. Lone, Mir Qayyum and Mir Manan, and listened to radio news.
In the cell, Bhat Sahib used to put our general knowledge to test on making bets. The bet was to go through physical exercises. He used to sing patriotic songs in very melodious voice. Ashraf Qureshi would empty the earthen vessels of water and then play at it while I would get hold of some pot or pan to add jingle to this show. Bhat Sahib sang both Kashmiri and Pahari songs. I still remember the Kashmiri song he used to sing often:
“Tokehsur yeleh gaseh shethrwen panjran/Adeh hai neran saen arman
Baleh yar yeleh Sheen gali…/ adeh hai neran saen arman''
The Pahari song was as this:
“Langeh aja patan chanan/da yara langeh aja patan chana aja”
He had many more Kashmiri songs that carried the spirit of patriotism and the sentiment of freedom.He would also tell us about major freedom movements in the world.