This Blog provides an insight on the Kashmir-issue, India and Pakistan. The articles on this Blog can be best described as thought-provoking. The articles thrive to trigger debate about the miseries enslaved Kashmiris are facing and discuss also possible solutions to this long standing conflict. It also aims to convince readers why Independent Kashmir is the best solution for all parties involved.



Whose agent can I be?

Whose agent can I be?

My life is an open book. If I work for India tell me what do I do for them which they pay me for? But to me, India and Pakistan both have held Kashmiris against their wishes. India on this side, Pakistan on that. JKDLP Supremo Hashim Qureshi talks about hijack episode, current crisis, Kashmir politics and more, in an exclusive interview with GK Senior Correspondent Zulfiqar Majid.

Where from Hashim Quershi started his political career?
I was born in Nowhatta in 1953 and was student of Islamia School. My father was associated with Political Conference of Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Karra. As a kid, on August 14 (Pakistan Independence Day), I used to burst fire crackers. That time I used to hear slogans like Kashmir Banayga Pakistan and those days also pitched battles between youth and Police in the lanes and bye-lanes of downtown was order of the day. I was jailed at the age of 14 first time. We were vocal supporters of accession to Pakistan and more extremists than today’s youth.

The independence movements in other parts of world like Algeria, Palestine and other African countries also influenced my ideas.

How did you plan Indian Airlines Friendship Aircraft Ganga in 1971?

I went to meet my uncle who was in Peshawar (Pakistan) in 1969. There I met Maqbool Bhat first time. He made me understand that independent Kashmir was the only solution and it can be achieved through an armed struggle. Bhat was running National Liberation Front those days. When I returned back, we opened NLF cells in this part of Kashmir. Then we started the campaign that armed struggle is the only solution. So many people were associated with NLF and we decided that we have to do something big.

Then in April 1970, I crossed the border and met Maqbool Bhat and Dr Farooq Hyder. In Pakistan I was trained by a retired subedar, Yar Muhammad. One day on a breakfast table, we decided that we should do something like Laila Khalid of Palestine did. I volunteered myself for the hijacking. Dr Hyder’s brother-in-law, who was an ex-pilot, gave me training of hijacking. The plan for hijacking was prepared by Bhat, Hyder, Amanullah Khan (JKLF) and Javed Sagar.

You were serving as sub-inspector in BSF before the highjack and who had planted you?
It is propaganda. I will reveal the truth. Ghulam Hassan Mir was a DSP in BSF then. He is still alive. I had to cross the border and I met Mir at Regal Chowk. I told him that I had to cross the border to meet my sister who was married in Pakistan. He promised me that he will help me in crossing the border, but I’ve to provide him information about Al-Mujahideen militant organization run by Sardar Abdul Qayoom Khan in AJK. He helped me in border cross on the promise that I’ll provide him the information.

In AJK I was trained in hijacking, but on my return I was arrested in Jammu. Maqbool Bhat had told me that in case I was arrested, I should reveal that I was on a mission to hijack a plane and two more persons were also coming on the same mission. Bhat told me that it was for my safety, otherwise I would be killed in custody. After my arrest, BSF people asked me to keep an eye at Srinagar airport on the other two persons who were coming to hijack the plane.

That means before hijack, you were arrested.
Yes. I revealed the whole plan to them and that other two persons are also coming. They (BSF) promised me that they would recruit me as sub inspector. They gave me order on a plain paper on which it was written that I was appointed as sub inspector. Under rules, it wasn’t possible, I was just 17 and just a matriculate. The state government in its case has also filed that I was sub inspector in BSF at the time of hijacking. But when the court asked for records, they couldn’t give any proof. It was all a drama.

Then how were you released when you revealed that you were on a mission to hijacking a plane?
After my arrest, I signed a deal with BSF. I told them that I’ll identify the other two hijackers. But I was doing reece for hijack. In the meantime I gave training to one of my relative Ashraf Qureshi.

How is it possible that you will give training to someone while being under arrest?
No, BSF had released me. They thought I’m with them. In the meantime, Maqbool Bhat sent Irshad Bhat from Pakistan. I told him that as soon I’ll get a chance I’ll hijack the plane. In January 1971, BSF suspected that I was playing a trick with them and before they could have killed me, I decided to hijack the plane.

How would you communicate with Maqbool Bhat?

Through post cards in code words.

So finally how did you accomplish your mission hijack?
We booked two tickets. One in the name of Ashraf Quershi and one in the name of Muhammad Hussain Quershi. I thought if I would book a ticket on my name, I might be caught. We boarded the plane and hijacked it.

What weapons you were carrying and how did you mange to take them in the plane?
A toy pistol and a grenade. And carrying the weapon inside the plane wasn’t difficult those days. There was hardly any checking.

There are allegations that you were an Indian agent, and gave India an excuse for Bangladesh war.
When we reached Pakistan, we talked about independent Kashmir. Today even after one lakh sacrifices, India says that it isn’t a freedom movement, but some terrorists are making disturbance in Kashmir. In 1971, there was no such movement in Kashmir and how India would have allowed some one to hijack a plane and make an issue of it.

When we hijacked the plane there was no Bangladesh issue that time. Bangladesh crisis started in March 1971 while we hijacked the plane in January 1971. Crisis started because of transfer of power.

But hijacking provided India an excuse to cut Pakistan’s air links with Bangladesh?
After 1965 war, India didn’t allow Pakistani military planes to fly over its airspace. Only civilian flights were allowed. And the Ganga was burnt by ISI, not by us. We were against destroying the plane. Pakistan gave excuse to India themselves.

In Pakistan you were prosecuted for offence under Enemy Agents Ordinance. The charges against you were that you acted as agents of Indian Intelligence deployed in Kashmir, Delhi and Karachi.
These were baseless allegations. These allegations were leveled not only against me, but against Maqbool Bhat, G M Lone and Ashraf Quershi too. The trail was run in special court initially. But Supreme Court of Pakistan released me. If I would have been an Indian agent, why would have SC released me.

Did Pakistanis torture you in jail?
Not only me, but all my colleagues. People of this Kashmir should understand that when Azad Kashmir came into existence, Muslim Conference was the only party their. They used to say that one who isn’t with MC isn’t a Muslim. They had prejudice against we Kashmiris. And the biggest reason was that we were fighting for independent Kashmir. Talking about independent Kashmir in Pakistan those days was considered as an act of infidelity.

What was Muslim Conference’s role?

MC’s role always has been as an agent of Pakistan. Sardar Qayoom had received crores of rupees those days from Arab countries in the name of liberating Kashmir. But when we hijacked the plane, he too turned against us. Pakistani establishment and MC were afraid of our action, as they thought it would give boost to independent Kashmir slogan.

Do you know Dr Kaw, then director RAW and did you ever meet him?
You are asking this question to a 17 year old boy, not to a man who is 55. I say I’ve never met him.

Still there are allegations that you are on the payrolls of Indian intelligence agencies?
What I’m doing for India for which they would pay me? This is my question to you. Some separatists either say independence or Pakistan, why aren’t they on payroll of India. I’m saying independence from Gilgit to Lakhanpor. I’m the co-founder of JKLF. My difference is with Amanullah Khan not with JKLF.

What is the difference between your and struggle of other pro-independent groups?
Ideologically no difference. I met Yasin Malik in hospital recently during the uprising. I told him that the movement has been hijacked towards Pakistan by some people and we should give it a direction. He agreed and said that we would sit and discuss. But later we couldn’t meet.

Have you ever held a meeting with leaders of other separatist groups?
Everyone from (Syed Ali Shah) Geelani to Mirwaiz (Umar Faooq).

How do you view their stand on Kashmir?
If I’m not wrong Geelani Sahib turned a separatist only in 1989. Till then he was enjoying membership of Assembly. If you talk about Awami Action Committee, they too were enjoying elections with Janta Party. Abdul Ghani Lone Sahib was with Congress and BJP. But for Yasin Malik and Salahudin, everyone was enjoying elections.

I challenge all the separatist leaders to come and argue with me if I’m involved with agencies in harming Kashmir cause. Leveling groundless allegations without any sound argument is easy. I’m ready for accountability, let every separatists come forward and present himself before an independent accountability commission.

What are your activities and who is financing now?

We have imparted training to 7-8 thousand widows and orphan girls. I’ve full address of everyone. We have given free education to more than 1000 orphans. I’ve helped 100 orphan girls in getting married. I’ve lived in Europe for 16 years and I’ve earned all the money through legal means. I’ve a business in Europe and I’m spending from that.

Why did you come back in 2000? Was it any kind of deal with New Delhi?

Did India offer me chief minister’s chair after my comeback. I was jailed for one year. I’ll tell u one thing. People here love religion and ideology, but nobody loves his nation. My only sin is that I love my nation. I had European passport and why should have I come here. I just came here because I love my nation and my people.

What is the agenda of your DLP? Are you fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir?

We are fighting against the rule of India and Pakistan. People in AJK are fighting against Pakistan and we are fighting against India. There is movement for independent Kashmir in Gilgit and Baltistan, so is in our part.

Then why isn’t violence in AJK’s freedom movement?
If I will speak truth, I would be again labeled as an Indian agent. Violence has been created here by Pakistani Army. If someone will send weapon to AJK, they too would take up arms.

Do you say that both parts of Kashmir are occupied?
Yes, according to my perspective both the parts are occupied. Read the constitution of AJK and you will see that no president, prime minister or minister can take oath before he accepts it as part of Pakistan. Same is in this part of Kashmir.

Do you weigh both India and Pakistan in the same category?
Indians treat Kashmir as a colony while as Pakistanis believe in dictatorship.

If you have to choose one between the two, whom would you choose?
It is impossible to choose one. If people of AJK would take up arms against Pakistan, they would meet the same treatment in Rawalpindi and Lahore which we are being given in Indian cities. What India is doing in Kashmir, Pakistan is doing in Baluchistan and northern areas.

What is your formula for liberation of both Indian and Pakistani Kashmir?

India and Pakistan should leave K-issue for 20-years and give greater autonomy to both the parts. During this period India and Pakistan can forget about their animosity. After 20 years it would be solved.

Do you accept that gun played a role in highlighting Kashmir issue?

I’ve some objection on it, although I acknowledge that gun played a role. But the freedom movement was turned into a terrorist movement. Whom would you blame for that?I’ll blame the leadership and those who gave guns in the hands of Kashmiris.

Do you think that gun has a role now?

I don’t think it has. World has changed and violence has no place now. Civil movement is the best option now as it has acceptance at international level.

How do you view present situation in Jammu and Kashmir?
Kashmiri can never compromise with slavery. May be they may not get independence, but urge for it will never die. Kashmiris have been crushed by Mughals, Afghans, Sikhs and Dogras from time to time. But let the whole world know it that our movement can never be crushed.

A few years back, you had started moral policing. Your activists beat up several young boys and girls in restaurants. Do you stand for Taliban type of government?
There were a few restaurants in Lambert Lane and some one told me that there are cabins in these restaurants. When I entered the restaurant, I saw 16-18 year old girls sitting in these cabins with boys very indecently. One of the restaurant belongs to a well known police officer of the valley. I’ve lived in Europe and I’ve two daughters. I can see them sitting in a restaurant having tea, but I can’t see them sitting in closed cabins with boys. We asked the owners of the restaurants to dismantle the cabins.

Omar Abdullah accused you in recent land agitation that you beat up tourists in Shalimar Garden.
Omar is chief minister candidate, but I wonder how can he make such baseless allegations. Some National Conference workers have occupied Kha Charie (government land) land in Nishat against which I’ve filed a writ petition in High Court. It was a response to that.

Interview was published in Greater Kashmir on 27th December 2008