Shabnam Qayyum’s Book, Bundle of Lies?
Intellectuals, historians and journalists are the architects of a nation. In their heads they carry the roadmap of building the nation. Great feats of development emanate from their brains. Kashmir, our paradise, has been slightly unfortunate in this respect. At some crucial junctures in her history, it so happened that pseudo-intellectuals, bogus historians and phony writers presented themselves in the garb of scholars and intellectuals. They distorted history and played with the destiny of the nation.
Shabnam Qayyum is one such bogus journalist. An ordinary government employee he used his pen to win distinction and wealth. Starting from writing radio dramas, he embarked on negatively dramatizing history, culture and politics of Kashmir. It is amply known who induced him to write history and why and who supplied him material which he used. He may repudiate this and produce numerous counter arguments but he will have to concede that till date never has any allegation of the sorts been leveled against a historian as against him.
Nevertheless, we would have nothing to say against his works if he had not criminally distorted history and created confusion for coming generations.
Our land has gone through many extended perils to ascertain the events of history Only then has the true and unbiased history come down to us. The art of writing history is not a child’s play. A historian carries immense responsibility on his shoulders. He has no liberty and space to be careless in recording the events. He cannot depend on hearsay. Living nations can bear much debility but they will not bear their history handled by scoundrels and villains.
Shabnam Qayyum finds his place among such villains whose trash is not acceptable. A cursory study of his publications will show to what depths a writer can fall for self aggrandizement. He fails to make distinction between the truth and falsehood. Mudslinging, maligning others and character assassination of freedom fighters and nationalists have become his second nature. In between, he also writes anti-India articles only to pose as a supporter of the people’s movement. Naively he thinks the people do no understand that his character assassination of Hurriyat leaders and those opposed to the movement is rewarded with passport and other facilities
His new publication Phansi is the living proof of his love for falsehood, distortion of history and advertently making it a gossip. This book written on Afzal Guru is actually a collection of the writings of different writers. His assertions about Ganga hijacking, Maqbool Butt’s martyrdom and the murder of Mhatre do not carry an iota of truth. What he has written is diametrically opposed to the reality on the ground. He has named two freedom movement activists, Abdul Hamid Bhat and Riyaz Ahmad Dar, as D.P. Dhar’s agents for contriving murder of Mhatre, forgetting that D.P Dhar had died natural death way back in 1975 whereas the hijacking case happened a decade later. What more proof do we need to prove his falsehood and distortion of history? The court statements of Maqbool Butt the martyr, K.H. Khurshid, Major Rahim Shah and the statement of Abdul Khaliq Ansari given to Jung Forum in 1984 and an interview of Ashraf Qureshi are all included in my book Unrevealing of the Truth. Additionally, Butt Sahib’s letters, his court statements and Liberation Front’s publication Roshni ka Shaheed-e Awwal also bear testimony to the facts about Ganga hijacking case. Full details pertaining to the incident can be gleaned from the internet. Khalid Hassan wrote an article titled ‘Truth about Ganga’. This, and K.H. Khurshid writings are also available on the net. Even the court verdicts related to Ganga case are also to be found on the net.
Shabnam Qayyum does not care to conduct independent research into events on which he writes. Just sitting with cushion support comfortably in the drawing room and sipping kahwa and fancying historical events of far-reaching consequence is day -dreaming and not research. Had he any sense of responsibility as a historian, he would have known that D.P. Dhar died in 1975 nine years before Mhatre event happened. He would have also known that Mhatre was not murdered while driving a car. Actually he was standing at a bus stop in Birmingham waiting for the bus when he was kidnapped and later on murdered. But without verifying the facts of the case Shabnam Qayyum says that he was shot at while standing at the bus stop. The casual and irresponsible manner of Shabnam Qayyum recording history will be found in his statement that Liberation Front accepted the responsibility of kidnapping and assassinating Mhatre. In fact the responsibility was owned by Kashmir Liberation Army (KLA) and not LF. Below is recounted the factual story in this context. After going through it, readers will themselves decide what is true and what is false.
In his book, Shabnam Qayyum has recorded the story of the hijacking of Ganga from page 130 to 139 and from 139 to 145. He says that as a result of this event civilian and air force planes were disallowed to fly over Indian Territory to East Pakistan. Now let it be said that the witnesses of Pakistan Civil Aviation deposed in the court of law that the service of military or Air Force planes over Indian Territory was suspended after 1965. Of course any flight taking off from Karachi or Lahore and bound for East Pakistan had to seek permission from New Delhi prior to take off. If India suspected any of such flights, she had the right to ground that flight on its territory.
Thirdly, it is childish to believe that India hatched the conspiracy in which a Kashmiri youth hijacked an Indian airliner, took it to Lahore and then declared that high jacking was done to attain freedom from India. Even today India is not prepared to accept that a struggle is going on in Kashmir against her. Despite the death toll of more than a hundred thousand of Kashmir’s in the ongoing struggle, India’s stand on Kashmir is that a handful of Kashmir’s have been misled by Pakistan into staging armed insurgency against her whereas ordinary Kashmiri is not interested in the movement. She has stoutly publicized this stand on every international platform. How, forty years ago could India forge a proof against her own self that there was an anti-India movement in Kashmir?
It is worth noting that JKLF did not exist at all in 1970-71. However, Butt Sahib was the Chairman of Plebiscite Front (Azad Kashmir, Pakistan) and its militant wing National Liberation Front.
Was it a compulsion for India to engineer hijacking of her own airliner carrying its own nationals in order to bring about suspension of over-flight of civil airliners? She had absolutely no necessity to do that drama because she had not only armed the refugees from East Pakistan already but also launched a frontal attack on that country on December 3, 1971.
We are not living in a blind world today. In the age of internet nothing remains hidden. In 1970 elections, Awami League of East Pakistan won absolute majority in elections to the national assembly. But military regime refused to hand over power to them. On 28 March 1971, civil disobedience movement broke out under the guidance of Awami League in East Pakistan.
In recent days, many Pakistanis in Bangladesh were given prizes for supporting national movement in 1971. Included among them was Waris Mir, the father of Pakistan’s outstanding intellectual Abid Mir and human rights activist Asma Jahangir. Atrocities perpetrated by Pakistani army on 80 million people of East Pakistan at that time has been recorded in thousands of books, films and other material easily available anywhere today and mostly produced by Pakistani authors. If at that time I had rendered any support to the Bengalis against the tyranny and oppression of Pakistani army, I would have acknowledged that with pride.
Shabnam Qayyum has spoken about the role of D.P. Dhar in connection with the Ganga high jacking. I have never met late D.P. Dhar nor did I know him. On 30 January 1971, I was a boy 17 years and 3 months old. I was born on October 1, 1953. Supposing I was in contact with D.P. Dhar a year before the hijack, it means my age at that time was just 16. Was an experienced and sharp politician so naïve as to select an inexperienced teenager that I was for a very sensitive and dangerous assignment when there were young people in Al Fatah organization in Kashmir much more experienced in destructive activities. D.P. Dhar, if he intended to use any of Kashmiri youth, for the plan, he would certainly have tried to pick up one of above twenty years of age who had come under the influence of the government and were provided with many facilities. Shabnam Qayyum writes that IG Police Srinagar called for record from many police stations of youth with destructive mentality and my record figured somewhere. But the fact is that no record about me existed anywhere in any police station... It is true that I was arrested along with many stone pelting youth when I was just 11/ 12 years of age but the magistrate had exonerated me. Shabnam’s statement that I was picked up by the police somewhere around the Palladium cinema at Lal Chowk and that this record also stands preserved with police station is just a figment of imagination, a white lie. If anybody stands up and provides a proof of what Shabnam Qayyum has said about me, I am prepared to accept all that he has said about me. His simple intention is character assassination for which he must have received unknown remuneration from sources unknown to me. If he has any police report with him in this connection, let him produce it and receive a hefty cash prize from me.
Shabnam Qayyum has involved the residence of some teacher in Sathu Barber Shah also to embellish his fantastic story. He says that I was called to the house of one Kashi Nath Dhar, a teacher of mine to motivate me (for the crime). The name of Kashi Nath Dhar has been brought in whereas nobody existed by that name and at that time at the stated locality. D.P. Dhar was India’s Ambassador in Moscow from 1969 to 1971. Would such a high dignitary meet somebody in an obscure locality and of obscure name? He would have easily met with him in some guest house or called him to his place. If it was a conspiracy so big in its size what was the need for dragging in a teacher and his obscure house; he could have met me in his official residence?
Isn’t it ridiculous that a person calling himself a historian says that after giving training of hijacking, Hashim Qureshi was sent to Azad Kashmir for meeting Maqbool Butt and informing him of the mission? He states that Hashim Qureshi not only conveyed the message to Maqbool Butt but also offered his services to undertake the mission. He further writes that Maqbool Butt thought hijacking would revive Kashmir issue on international plane and, therefore, entrusted the mission to Hashim Qureshi. In other words he means to say that India itself wanted to revive Kashmir question on international plane and that Maqbool Bhat easily fell into his trap. Was Maqbool Butt a child?
The truth is that even my worst enemies know that I met with Maqbool Butt in Peshawar in 1969. My family had travelled to Peshawar to meet with our maternal uncle. We had obtained genuine passport and travelled through Ganda Singh Feroz pore route. During those two or three months, I continued meeting with Butt Sahib. It was at this point of time that he enrolled me in Kashmir National Liberation Front. He made me responsible for opening cell of National Liberation Front in Kashmir.
On the call of Butt Sahib, I crossed the border in May-June 1970, arrived in Rawalpindi and went to the residence of Dr. Farooq Haider to meet with Maqbool Butt. I presented a detailed report to Butt Sahib and he decided to select me for training in arms.
One day Dr. Farooq Haider, Allah Rakha Segar’s son Javed Sagar, Maqbool Butt (and perhaps Amanullah Khan also) and I were sitting around the table for breakfast. Suddenly news was flashed that Eritrean mujahedeen had fired at an Ethiopian civilian airliner at Karachi airport. At this, Dr. Farooq Haider said that we too ought to do something like this so that our organization and our cause are highlighted on international platform. Bhat Sahib responded by saying that we shall think on the suggestion.
A few days later he talked to me on the subject. My response to my leader was, “I am prepared t do anything for the cause of freedom of Kashmir. As such I shall try to perform whatever mission you entrust to me.” He then put me in the charge of Javed Minto, the foster brother of Dr. Farooq who had rendered service in Pakistan Air Force. My training in hijacking was started in Rawalpindi and Javed Sagar invariably used to be with me. A large number of people have deposed that Javed Minto had trained Hashim Qureshi. Minto had himself deposed in Pakistani courts that he had given me the training.
As far as the statement of Shabnam Qayyum that one Sheikh Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din had found Maqbool Butt in a sad and depressed mood is also false and baseless. I will make a mention of a letter from Maqbool Butt written to Ikramullah Jaswal from Tihar jail on 2 May 1980. Towards the end of the letter Butt Sahib wrote, “Convey my salaam to Hashim and Ashraf. Procrastination of Hashim’s appeal is a matter of concern. Please write in more detail about it.”
On 17 May, 1980 Pakistan Supreme Court Full Bench ordered my release. Let me say that from December 1971 up to May 1972 we were put together in the jail. He always said that we were dearer to him than his own children because you are the inheritors of my thought and ideas.”
In yet another letter written by him from New Delhi Central Jail on 19 October 1980 to his son Javed Maqbool Butt, he had said, “Dear Hashim Qureshi had mentioned in his letter of condolence about your Faisalabad address. I received that letter some days ago. Therefore I am sending you this letter on the same address.”
The statement of Shabnam Qayyum that I had decided to betray Maqbool Butt is a canard. The statement given by Maqbool Butt in the special court remains a lesson for every freedom loving activist. It carries full detail of Ganga episode. He has said in clear words that neither he nor any of his associates hatched any conspiracy against Pakistan.
The story that some Excise Commissioner named Ghulam Mohi’ud-Din had introduced Maqbool Butt to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto again is a concoction. The picture of Butt Sahib and Bhutto which he has inserted in his book Phansi was actually taken during a function in Mirpur when the two persons were sitting on the stage. Others sitting on the dais were Choudhary Noor, Hafiz Peerzadah and perhaps Alavi Sahib. Shabnam Qayyum has written an interesting caption beneath the photograph which runs as this: “In a special function, peace was brokered between Bhutto and Maqbool Butt. Both agreed that Hashim Qureshi had made a fool of them”.
Dear readers, let me tell you that you are giving Maqbool Butt place in your hearts after he was executed. But his vision and his thoughts could encompass centuries. He could read a man from his eyes and face. He had two M.A degrees to his credit. He had enlightened Indian and Pakistani prison houses with his thoughts. How much fascination people had for him will be found from a short incident.
Leading National Liberation Front activist Nassir Mahmood (now living in the US) who was interned in Kot Lakhpat jail once fell unconscious as a result of torture in Lahore Shahi Fort. At that very time Butt Sahib happened to pass by in the police custody vehicle. As Butt Sahib came close to Nassir Mahmood, the latter stood up and raised his hand to say salaam to Butt Sahib. On this, Nassir Mahmud was taken back to the prison and subjected to more torture. He was asked that he had been feigning unconscious but had stood up and saluted Butt Sahib. Nassir Mahmud’s reply was historical. He said, “Cut my body into a thousand pieces, take each piece to the presence of Butt Sahib and you will see each piece of my body rising to offer salaam to him.”
Regarding the story that I betrayed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, as told by Shabnam Qayyum of Buchhwara Dalgate, the world knows that Bhutto was the most outstanding intellectual and shrewd politician not only in the sub-continent but in entire Asian Continent. He is the one who, despite opposition from the US, laid the foundation of nuclear zing Pakistan, a crime for which the US brought him to the gallows. Even Henry Kissinger, the shrewdest of American diplomats, had not the ability of befooling him. Who was I, ---an urchin of 16 years--- to hoodwink a man of his stature? By concocting the story, Shabnam Qayyum has tried to disgrace two outstanding leaders of the sub-continent.
Some year ago Shabnam Qayyum had published the same photograph in his paper with the caption that Maqbool Butt and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto are annoyed with each other and they are looking sideways.
Let me say that up to 1976, Maqbool Butt had come to see me in three different jails. Before coming to Kashmir in 1976, he had come to see me in Kot Lakhpat jail. He was accompanied by Advocate Abdul Basit, late Ashraf Qureshi, Ghulam Ahmad Bhat and Sardar Rashid Hasrat. They had brought a few gifts and also handed me a little pocket money.
Dr. Abdul Basit and Ghulam Ahmad Bhat are still alive and the record of Kot Lakhpat jail is also intact. Everybody in my circle knows that from right from the beginning up to the last verdict of Pakistan Supreme Court, Plebiscite Front (AK-Pakistan) and National Liberation Front were fighting my legal case. All small and big leaders would come to see me. The strangest proof is that the founding father of the ideology of independent Kashmir, namely Abdul Khaliq Ansari, a highly respectable personality and a great humanist (died recently) had disclosed in the Jung Forum in the course of a symposium on “High jackers of Indian airliner in 1984” as this: “I have been called once again and told that the case is being withdrawn. We refused. Before the Tribunal announced its verdict, Bhutto Sahib himself told me that it would disappoint me to be told that we will be punishing one of the two accused, namely Hashim Qureshi or Ashraf Qureshi. The other one will be set free.”
Why is Shabnam Qayyum closing his eyes to this plethora of evidence and proofs besides the depositions of the witnesses in Ganga case, and why is he distorting the facts of history? Isn’t he committing a crime of misleading coming generations of Kashmir’s? But facts of history cannot be wiped out, do whatever we may. The facts cannot be wiped out but the one who distorts them ultimately gets wiped out from the scene.
Some commentators argue that if Ganga airplane had not been blown up India would not have been able to impose ban on over-flights. But K.H. Khurshid, Military officer Major Rahim Shah and the Log Book of the Fire Brigade all have said that the aircraft was set on fire on the prompting of ISI and SSP Lahore Sardar Vakil Shah. If the aircraft was set ablaze under the conspiracy of India, why should have I and Ashraf Qureshi waited for 80 long hours ---- from 1 P. pm on 30th January to 8 PM of 2nd February--- K.H. Khurshid was an honest and towering personality. He was known for his upright character who never spoke anything but the truth. He had served Quid-e-Azam as his personal secretary. In his court statement he clearly stated that Lahore SSP Sardar Vakil said in my and Maqbool Butt’s presence that for God’s sake blow up the airplane and spare us the peril”.
Before his death, Justice of the Tribunal Yaqub Ali Khan had told the Daily Jung of Lahore on 12 February 1992 that the special court had rejected the charge against hijackers Hashim Qureshi, Ashraf Qureshi and Maqbool Butt that they were Indian agents. In reply to a question Major Rahim Shah had deposed that when the aircraft was set on fire, he had told his G-1 that he could disarm the highjackers.
Is it not desirable that anybody intending to write on Ganga high-jacking should, first of all, go through the court record of the case and statements of Maqbool Butt, K.H. Khurshid, Abdul Khaliq Ansari and many more distinguished, honest and elderly personalities?
Late Khaliq Hassan was the media adviser to Pakistan government. In 2003 he published an article in Friday Times under the title ‘The Truth about Ganga’. This can also be seen on his blog. In 1971 he had met one Aftab Ahmad Khan, the chief of India Desk in Pakistan foreign ministry. He had told him that the hijackers had not blown the Indian airplane.
Some Indian writer by the name of Sahai has written a book titled Samba Case. He says that they (meaning Indian agencies) had told the hijackers to demand presence of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto at the airport once the hijacked plane landed in Pakistan and that they had demanded a meeting with him. But Khalid Hassan writes that no such demand had ever been made. However, he says that after returning from East Pakistan and landing at Lahore airport, the large gathering assembled there made strong demand that Z.A. Bhutto meet with the hijackers. But Shabnam Qayyum has concocted a story about this incident which is nowhere near the facts.
Evidently as Shabnam Qayyum has concocted false stories about Ganga case and tried at my character assassination, I am disposed to believe that he has been rewarded substantially by unknown quarters. Normally there seems no reason why he should distort the facts of history so brutally and wantonly.
He has made a mention of first international cricket match between West Indies and India in Srinagar. He has concocted facts which have no historical basis. He brings the onus of disrupting that match to the doorsteps of JKLF youth. First of all, let it be made clear that JKLF did not exist in the valley in 1982. Everybody knows that the person who led disruption of the cricket match and dug the pitch was Mushtaqul Islam. A case was registered against him and his companions. Shabnam Qayyum writes that when Indira Gandhi came to know about disruption of the cricket match in Srinagar, she called D.P. Dhar to Delhi and consulted him about doing away with Maqbool Butt and a plan was drawn to accomplish the task.
Two young men of Liberation Front, Riyaz Ahmad Dar and Abdul Hamid Bhat were passing their days in Jammu jail. Perhaps Indian policy planners had won them over to share the plan. They were brought out of Jammu jail on 1 February 1984. Some DSP named Anil Sharma took them to New Delhi. He, D.P. Dhar and some IB officer prepared them to take life against life. Not only passports were made for them, even visas for London were also obtained for them. On February 3, Anil Sharma and two IB officers brought both of them to London. On 5th February they murdered Indian diplomat Ravinder Mhatre who was heading for somewhere in his vehicle that Sunday. After performing the act of murder, both of them disappeared from the scene. Perhaps they were finished in London. According the plan that had already been drawn, JKLF announced its responsibility for the murder.
The plan of getting a diplomat murdered and in retaliation executing Maqbool Butt was the conspiratorial plan of Indira Gandhi. It was almost in line with the plan conceived by Indira in consultation with D.P. Dhar of making Hashim Qureshi hijack Ganga airliner.
This is the horrendously fallacious story concocted by Shabnam Qayyum in his book. Let us unravel some of its aspects. Abdul Hamid Bhat and Riyaz Ahmad Dar were the associates of Maqbool Butt. They were put in chains. A number of known personalities will vouch for it. Among them are Shabir Shah, Muhammad Ashraf Sahrai, Ghulam Muhammad Safi, Azam Inquilabi, Muhammad Sagar, Showkat Ahmad Bakhshi and other freedom fighters. They can reflect on the subject.
Riyaz Ahmad Dar and Abdul Hamid Bhat were handed over to Pakistan in exchange of prisoners. The latter is living in Mirpur (AK) these days. He is doing some business.
This entire fabricated story of London Plan is the product of a diseased mind. It is a shameful blot on the name of journalism. I made an enquiry from the proprietor of Delhi Public School, Mr. Vijay Dhar, the son of late D.P. Dhar. He informed me that his father had passed away in 1975. Did Shabnam Qayyum bring him back to life just to legitimize his fantastic story about me? Let it be reminded that even in 1975, D.P. Dhar was in Moscow as India’s Ambassador.
This long narrative will help my readers to understand that Shabnam Qayyum as a victim of diseased mind was fulfilling somebody’s agenda in writing false and fabricated history of Kashmir. Some people who were arrested in Mhatre murder case included Raja Qayyum, Riyaz Malik, Masoom Ansari and a couple more. Riyaz Malik and Masoom Ansari resided in Lotion and Birmingham respectively and had courted jail in connection with Mhatre murder case. Raja Qayyum is now working with some Trust in Turkey.
The wretchedness about Shabnam Qayyum is that he likes to discredit and malign all parties and their leadership by concocting false stories with the clear purpose of creating doubts in the mind of the people about their faithfulness to freedom movement. He has even pasted the shirts and shalwars of ladies in his book and claimed that Indian security forces are raping mothers and daughters everywhere in Kashmir. He did not actually mean to highlight the oppression of the Indians on Kashmir’s but to frighten Kashmir’s so that they would withdraw from the movement for the fear of rape of their women. Look at his books like Kashmir-Bharati mazalim ki kahani tasweerun ki zabani, or Kashmir main khawatin ki behurmati etc. in which he does not leave aside any single conceivable sin and criminal act which India did not commit in Kashmir. But very amusing to note that he has the Indian passport and without any substantial income, he continues to visit Pakistan and some European countries. Is it not amusing that if an ordinary Kashmir pelts a stone on security personnel or raises an anti-India slogan, not only he but his close relatives too are denied passport even for performing Hajj pilgrimage not to speak of visiting Pakistan or any other country. My organization’s vice chairman Afaq Ahmad wanted passport for his elderly widowed mother for performing Hajj pilgrimage. She was denied. Many of my relatives including my sister were denied passport. If I have to go to a foreign country for medical checkup and treatment, I am asked to seek permission from the court despite the fact that I possess passport of a foreign country.
Not only is Shabnam Qayyum a fraud and cheat, he is an indecent man who is harming the freedom movement. He is arrogant enough to defame the female members of a leader’s household. Many a time, in the past he has been thrashed and dragged on roads for his impudence. He cares neither for his own self respect nor of others, and thus repeatedly proves that he is mentally sick. Since he had taken up the task of following anti-movement mission, he, therefore, was the recipient of many facilities from the Indians.