NEW YORK, Feb 14 (APP): Rich tributes were paid to Kashmiri leader Maqbool Butt at a webinar held to commemorate the 37th anniversary of his martyrdom, with speakers renewing their determination to accomplish the Kashmiri people’s United Nations-pledged right to self-determination for which he laid down his life.
Since his execution, February 11 is observed by all Kashmiris as a black day of mourning for the brave Kashmiri icon. This year’s webinar was attended by speakers from across the United States and abroad.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary-General of the Washington-based World Kashmir Awareness Forum, said Maqbool Butt’s life has inspired countless Kashmiris to keep up their struggle for freedom from India’s yoke. “He gave his life for the cause because he believed in it with all sincerity and honesty,” Fai said, adding that he accepted martyrdom instead of slavery. Maqbool Butt’s goal of emancipating Kashmiri people India’s brutal occupation must be accomplished, he said.
Javed Rathore, president of Kashmir Solidarity Council, said that that Indian authorities could jail Maqbool Butt and silence him by execution, but they could not kill his vision of a free Kashmir. “The spirit of Maqbool Bhat is alive,” he said.
Claire Bidwel, Chairperson of “Let Kashmiris Decide” Scotland, outlined the steps she had taken to shake the conscience of the world leaders and come to rescue of the leaders of Kashmiri political resistance movement, including Mohammad Yasin Malik. Her signature campaign has already received thousands of responses all over the world, she said.
Ariful Haq Arif, a senior journalist, who met Maqbool Butt in Karachi, quoted him saying, “We faced every form of torture with the belief that this (new) challenge we are facing will ultimately bring revolution to our thinking.” Arif said that Maqbool Butt was a charismatic leader and his dastardly execution will inspire Kashmiris for ages.
Dr. Zulfiqar Kazmi, a well-known scholar, said that the people of Kashmir miss Maqbool Butt, a selfless leader, dearly.
Sardar Shoaib Irshad, the webinar’s organizer, quoted Maqbool Bhat Shaheed as saying, “The children of oppressors are provided with all the luxuries and comfort of the world, but the children of resistance leaders are not attracted to these kinds of luxuries and comfort. They get satisfaction from struggling against the system of oppression.”
Tariq Khan, an activist from Canada, said that the decision of Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider to announce February 11th a holiday was the right step in the right direction.
Other speakers included: Sardar Zarif Khan, President of the Washington Chapter of Kashmir Solidarity Council; Dr. Akhlaq Barlas, prominent Kashmir scholar and leader; Mohammad Arshad Shah, another leader from Canada, Sardar Naseem Iqbal, a well-known community leader from England; as well as activists like Sardar Zulfiqar Roshan Khan from Islamabad; Sardar Zubair Khan; Sardar Aftab Roshan Khan; Raja Liaqat Kiyani, Hamid Malik; Shakeel Ahmed Janjua ; Sajjad Baloch; Zahid Khan; Aftab Khan; Azmat Khan; Mujeeb Kazi; Raheel Shaikh.
At the conclusion of the event, the participants demanded that the Government of India return the mortal remains of Shaheed Maqbool Bhat and Shaheed Afzal Guru to their relatives in Kashmir.