Maqbool Bhat’s Brother Returns To Valley After 20 Years, Is Arrested

12 February 2009
The Indian Express

Srinagar: The J-K Police on Thursday arrested Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, brother of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder Mohammad Maqbool Bhat, a day after he returned from Muzaffarabad. “We have registered a case against him for involvement in unlawful activities,” said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kupwara, Uttam Chand. On Wednesday, Bhat surfaced at his native village Trehgam in Kupwara after spending 20 years in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and addressed a massive public rally on the 25th death anniversary of his brother Maqbool Bhat, who was executed at Tihar jail in 1984. “The J-K Police and CRPF cordoned our village early in the morning and arrested him at 9.30 am,” Bhat’s nephew Parvez Ahmad Bhat said. “The police returned in the afternoon and arrested his wife Aamina Zahoor, three daughters - Midhat Zahoor (7), Nafila Zahoor (4) and Zunnoon Zahoor (3) - and his one-year-old son Mohammad Abdullah Bhat,” Parvez added. The Police, however, denied arresting Bhat’s family. “We have only arrested Bhat and none of his family members,” SSP Chand said. Bhat, who left the Valley at the beginning of militancy in the region, was associated with JKLF (Aman) group in Muzaffarabad. He said he had returned to the Valley to head the organisation and put forward the message of his slain brother. “I have returned to deliver the message of Maqbool Bhat to you,” he said in his public address. “We don’t want (affiliation) with Pakistan or India. We want an independent Kashmir.” In his address, Bhat advocated a violence-free “struggle”. “Now we don’t need guns,” he said. “I have come back to fight the political struggle for the cause. JKLF was active on four fronts - militancy, politics, diplomacy and media - but now militancy has gone to the last position.” Though the police are tightlipped as to how Bhat was able to enter the Valley, sources said he came via Nepal. “We are yet to ascertain the route,” SSP Chand said. “We have not yet got a chance to talk to him.” Bhat has already lost four brothers in the conflict. His older brother, Maqbool Bhat was executed in 1984. Another brother, Habibullah Bhat, disappeared when he had gone to meet Maqbool Bhat at Tihar Jail. Bhat’s two more brothers - Ghulam Nabi Bhat (Convener of JKLF) and Manzoor Ahmad Bhat - were killed in separate encounters with security forces at Srinagar and Trehgam. Bhat’s arrest triggered protests in his native village and people took to streets raising slogans against the J-K Police and the state Government despite heavy deployment of police force and CRPF.