Shujaat Bukhari

SRINAGAR: Senior leaders of moderate Hurriyat Conference were among 50 people arrested by police on Saturday while they were marching towards the United Nation’s office here to present a memorandum. They were demanding that remains of JKLF founder Maqbool Butt be returned to Kashmiris.

Led by Shabir Ahmad Shah, a group of Hurriyat activists were heading towards the United Nations Military Observers (UNMO) Group when police swooped on them and used force to disperse them.

The leaders who included Fazl Haque Qureshi, Sheikh Aziz, Naeem Khan, Javed Ahmad Mir and Moulana Abdullah Taari were planning to present a memorandum demanding the world body ask India to hand over the remains of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder Maqbool Butt who was buried in Delhi’s Tihar jail after he was hanged on February 11, 1984.

The memorandum addressed to U.N. Secretary-General Bon Ki Moon also demanded that the U.N. immediately intervene and force India and Pakistan to implement the resolution passed by the world body more than 60 years ago on Kashmir.

It also highlighted the human rights violations allegedly committed by troops in the State.

Slogans raised

Police said that the Hurriyat activists surfaced outside the UNMO office and started raising pro-freedom slogans.

“They had no permission to take out a procession as Section 144 is in force in the city,” said a police officer. As the Hurriyat leaders refused to return they were taken to Ram Munshi Bagh police station.

“Biggest CBM”

Alleging that police used force to disperse a peaceful procession Mr. Shah told The Hindu over phone from the police station that they were beaten up and dragged. He said the programme connected with the death anniversary of Butt was chalked out for three days and on February 11 a general strike would be observed. “If the remains of Butt are handed over to us it will be the biggest CBM,” said Mr. Shah adding that Pakistan President Parvez Musharraf should use his good offices to persuade India to do the same.

Mr. Shah had last year started a campaign pressing for returning the remains of Butt. He did it after senior journalist Iftikhar Gilani who was lodged in Tihar Jail in 2002 revealed in his book “My Days in Prison” that Butt’s grave was dismantled.

Mr. Shah said that President Musharraf should also move to International Court of Justice to help “people of Kashmir in getting back the remains of their great leader.”

Butt was hanged in the Tihar jail in February 1984 after Indian diplomat Ravinder Matre was killed in London the same year. JKLF was believed to have been responsible for the killing.

The day is being observed as his “martyrdom day” every year in Kashmir.