Maqbool Butt was born in Trehgam, district Kupwarah (IOK) in 1938,
buried inside Tihar jail, Delhi, he was wrongly imprisoned in Pakistan and
unlawfully hanged in India exactly one week before his
46th birthday, on 11th February 1984, while awaiting trial for another case
against him .

Today Maqbool Butt is known as the Baba-e-Quam, father of the movement and
Shaheed-e-Kashmir. He was the first Kashmiri to be
judicially murdered on Indian soil - making him the first authentic martyr of
the Kashmiri independence movement. Critics of the Kashmiri
freedom movement dubbed him as an "enemy agent" in order to undermine his
struggle for independence.

Maqbool Butt went to St Joseph's College in Baramulla for graduate studies. He
crossed over into "Azad" Kashmir via the Sialkot border in 1958 at a time when
Indian state repression increased against Sheikh Abdullah's supporters. After
some time in Azad Kashmir's
capital Muzaffarabad, he moved to Lahore and then settled in the northwestern
Pakistani City of Peshawar. He worked there with a daily
newspaper during the day and attended post-graduate classes in Urdu literature
during the evenings at the University. He also got
married there.

In 1962, Maqbool Butt formed a campaign group called Kashmir Independence
Committee and became its president. He later merged this
group with the newly formed Jammu Kashmir Mahaz-Rayee-Shumari (Plebiscite Front)
in Azad Kashmir.

Birth of an armed movement

The 1965 war and the subsequent Tashkent Agreement between India and Pakistan
brought fundamental changes in Maqbool Butt's political
thinking. He disapproved of Pakistan's strategy for the liberation of Kashmir
from India and wanted to see the leadership of the
struggle in the Kashmiri hands. He was of the view that the controversial war
between India and Pakistan was deterimental to the
advancement of the Kashmiri movement and wanted to review the whole strategy in
light of national liberation and anti imperialist
movements around the world. With this in mind, he put his energies into
organising a Kashmiri underground armed organisation, known as
National Liberation Front (NLF). Maqbool Butt's NLF thus became the first
organisation in Kashmir to take up the armed struggle against the occupation
forces of India.

In 1966 Maqbool Butt lead a self-trained, ill-equipped but enthusiastic group of
NLF activistsinto Indian Occupied Kashmir, to
establish underground cells. On their way back from occupied territory they were
spotted by an Indian intelligence officer who alerted the army. The group was
ambushed and in their attempt to escape certain death, a bloody confrontation
followed. An army officer and one of Maqbool Butt's youngest recruits from
Gilgit called Aurangzeb were killed. Maqbool Butt and his three comrades were
arrested and taken to Srinagar's Mehtab Bagh interrogation camp. They were
lodged in Srinagar jail and tried for murder-without
being able to make any legal representations.

Years of struggle

Maqbool Butt was sentenced to death in 1966 by a special court, which was held
within the prison walls in Srinagar.

Nearly two years later, in December 1968, Maqbool Butt along with Mir Ahmed and
Ghulam Yasin (another Kashmiri prisoner held on separate charges) broke out of
the prison by digging a 38 foot underground tunnel.The trio managed to cross
into "Azad" Kashmir after several weeks of playing hide and seek with the Indian
security forces. As soon as they entered the "liberated" territory, they were
once again arrested and later sent to the notorious Black Fort of
Muzaffarabad by the puppet state authority of Azad Kashmir. They were brutally
interrogated for three months but eventually released as the campaign to seek
their freedom intensified all over Azad Kashmir.

Maqbool Butt's experience in Muzaffarabad's Black Fort was not much different to
his experience in Mehtab Bagh at the hands of the
enemies of the Kashmiri freedom movement.

Narrating his bitter experience in a letter to a friend, he wrote: "I was happy
to be safe in my home but this happiness was short lived...what happened in the
Black Fort had shaken me and forced me to rethink on who was a friend and who
was a foe."

He was, however, not born to give up that easily. In November 1969, Maqbool
Butt was elected as the president of the Plebiscite Front. His first action was
to launch an awareness campaign throughout Azad Kashmir and Gilgit/Baltistan
territories. His group faced severe restrictions and persecution by the state
authority, which misunderstood his campaign as being anti-Pakistan. He also
continued to build his underground movement and recruit and train young
activists for a bigger mission.

In January 1970, two 16 and 17 year old NLF activists (Hashim and Ashraf)
hijacked an Indian aeroplane code-named "Ganga" from Srinagar airport to Lahore.
This was an extra ordinary event in the history of Kashmiri resistance, which
had been peacefull so far. It not only highlighted the unresolved nature of the
Kashmir issue but also fuelled passion into the movement as it focused on a new
dimension for the independence struggle.

What followed made a deep impact on the Kashmiri psyche and also had severe
repercussions for the Kashmiris as well as for Pakistan. Maqbool Butts NLF and
Plebiscite Front were smashed and most of their
party workers were imprisoned by Pakistan's military regime. Eventually they
were all but one released from prison as Pakistan's
High Court upheld an appeal in their favour and even called them Kashmir's
"true Patriots."

He lived and died for his nation

The years between 1968-76 set the scene for the indigenous Kashmiri armed
resistance movement. It only materialised after his execution in 1984 when JKLF
arrived on the scene.

In 1976 Maqbool Butt went back to the Indian Occupied territory, against the
advice of his senior colleagues where he was once again
arrested and imprisoned. On this occasion he was charged for murder of a police
officer, which he denied. While awaiting trial for this
case, he was transferred to the top security Tihar jail in 1980-as rumours of a
possible "rescue" were spread. He was placed in a death cell and cut off from
the outside world.

By now Kashmir's political scene had been turned in favour of India - with
Sheikh Abudulla and Indra Gandhi signing a new accord. Kashmir's tragedy was
not to end here. In February 1984, a previously unknown Kashmiri group
kidnapped and killed a member of India's Consulate staff in Birmingham,
England. They demanded Maqbool Butt's release from prison. As the news of the
death of this man reached India, the government there decided to hang Maqbool
Butt in vengeance. He was hanged in the early hours of 11th February before his
family could meet him for the last time. His family and friends were arrested
at Srinagar airport.

Since his execution, Kashmir has never been the same again. In 1989, a JKLF lead
rebellion in Indian occupied Kashmir rocked the
foundations of Indian rule. The struggle continues and Maqbool Butt's
message grows stronger by the day.

In August 1998, Pakistani Interior Ministry ordered a ban on the distribution of
Maqbool Butt letters, which were published in a book
form - Shahoor-e-Frada (Vision of Tommorow) by the National Institute of
Kashmir Studies based in Mirpur. Despite the ban the first edition was sold out
in months and a reprint is underway.

Maqbool Butt's vision in his own words

"If court decisions could check the onward march of liberation movements, hardly
any nation could be free today. To tolerate forced external domination
peacefully, is the worst moral crime of every enslaved nation"

"Freedom and independence is the fate and destination of Kashmiris. Indian
rulers or Pakistani generals and bureaucats cannot enslave Kashmir for a long
time. I am convinced that my motherland will see the dawn of independence, and
that dreaded line
that divides our hearts (line-of -control), will disappear one day"

"Any fight without an ideology and without a clear goal can be hijacked by
anyone with bigger power, we want to fight our own war,
we will accept help but not interference"

"Political and economic liberation of our nation demands incessant struggle
and commitment, self-sacrifice, so that next generation could follow our steps
and could live an honourable life in a dignified way-and after death we will
re-appear with different names and characters to continue the just struggle"