Tue, May 30, 2017 | updated 08:54 AM IST

If only PoK's tallest leader, Arif Shahid was alive today

Updated: Aug 30, 2016 08:15 IST      
If only PoK's tallest leader, Arif Shahid was alive today
By Smita Prakash

New Delhi [India], Aug.30 (ANI): Amidst talk of India possibly inviting people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir living outside Pakistan for a Pravasiya Bharatiya Diwas (celebration of overseas Indian community) in January 2017 in Bengaluru, one can't help wondering what Arif Shahid would have thought of the idea had he been alive.

Shahid was the tallest leader of Pakistani Kashmiris. A pacifist, he raised the issue of atrocities on Pakistani Kashmiris in a democratic manner. Shahid was the President of the Jammu and Kashmir National Liberation Conference (JKNLC) and the Chairman of the All Parties National Alliance (APNA). In May 2013, this affable leader was assassinated in cold blood in his own home. No enquiry was ordered and his assassins walked free. There was no condemnation of Shahid's killing. Pakistani politicians and civil society members maintained a conspiratorial silence.

Shahid had been labeled an Indian agent by the all powerful Pakistani intelligence agency - ISI. People of 'Azad Kashmir' or Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan were shocked at the snuffing out of the genuine voice of Kashmiris. Shahid's fatal flaw was that he believed that the rule of law would ensure his safety. He stayed back in Pakistan and did not live in enforced exile like Baloch leaders Bugti, Murri and others.

In 2004, Arif Shahid, while addressing a rally, said, "Pakistani generals have flourished in the name of Kashmir. Kill 5 - 20 in the name of Kashmir - get promoted from Colonel to Brigadier. Kill 25-30 in the name of Kashmir; get promoted from Brigadier to General. And if a General is able to push jehadis across the LoC and they die there killing others, then get promoted to a Lt General...in 1947, 1965, 1971 Pakistani generals have waged their wars in our (Kashmir) name. It is their war, and proxy war not ours."

Arif Shahid sought to distance Kashmiris from the concept of Jihad. In the books he authored, his interviews and speeches, Shahid spoke of how jihad or religious war is alien to Kashmir. He said, "The erstwhile princely state of Kashmir has Shias, Sunnis, Noor Bakshi, Islaimi, Pandits, Dogras, Buddhists..the theo-fascists of Pakistani intelligence try to work jihadi networks and make it a religious issue. Only secularism can work in Kashmir."

Shahid was a true leader of Kashmiris under Pakistani occupation. He preferred not to leave the land of his forefathers and staunchly defended his organisation from scurrilous attacks by establishment stooges. But like Saleem Shahzad, the brave journalist who was brutally killed in 2011, Arif Shahid too was mercilessly eliminated, another victim of state sponsored snuffing of brave voices in Pakistan.

Shahid had been warned several times by well wishers that he should tone down his criticism of the Pakistan military, else he would be killed, but he seemed to prefer death rather than toe the line of the establishment.

The APNA movement lost its steam with Shahid's assassination. His followers have gone underground, living lives of anonymity. They have not surfaced even after India sought to voice their plight now in international forums. Unlike Baloch leaders who live abroad in exile and run their movements for independence from Europe and the US, Kashmiris from 'AJK' and Gilgit Baltistan are a leaderless lot.

There were some stalwarts like Shafqat Inqalabi, Manzoor Parwana, Wajahat Hassan Khan and Nawaz Khan Niazi, all of whom cannot indulge in any political activity in Pakistan. They have been placed under Exit Control List and are not allowed to speak to the Pakistani media. The media too dare not speak to them about any Kashmir-related issue. Big brother is watching. When it comes to Kashmir, you will see the likes of Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin on Pakistani TV debates. And neither of them speaks about the status or plight of 'Azad Kashmir' or Gilgit Baltistan.

But now their plight is going to be highlighted by India in the new turn of events is taking place. Had Arif Shahid been alive he would have quoted his favourite poem once more.

Dukh ki kali lambi raatein

Zulm kay dhoop main vaar na dena

Jabr (force) ka suraj dhal kay rahega

Log himmat haar na dena

Zindaano (jails) ke salakhen tootenge

Quflon (locks) ko pareshan dekhenge

Daawa hai hamaara zanjeeron

Hum jashn-e-bahara (spring) dekhenge

Kya dar hai ki noor ki chahat mey

Hum ko bhi shab-e-gam kha jaye

Kuch log toh aise bhi honge

Jo suraj darakshan (brightness) dekhenge (ANI)

Lucknow [India], May. 30 (ANI): A special CBI court in Lucknow will frame charges today against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

Full Story >>

Yogi asks report from UP Min over 'beer bar' inauguration

Updated: May 30, 2017 08:18 IST     

Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) [India], May 30 (ANI): Taking cognizance of Uttar Pradesh Minister Swati Singh inaugurating a beer bar in Lucknow, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has asked the former to clarify her stand over the matter.

Full Story >>

Delhi HC to continue hearing in vector-borne menace matter

Updated: May 30, 2017 06:16 IST     

New Delhi [India], May 30 (ANI): The Delhi High Court will on Tuesday continue hearing a suo motu cognizance by the court, seeking action by the government and civic authorities to stop the spread of diseases such as dengue and chikungunya.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], May 30 (ANI): The Tis Hazari court will continue its hearing on the defamation case filed against Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal by Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) and cricketer-turned-politician Chetan Chauhan for allegedly trying to tarnish the image of the cricketing body.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], May 30 (ANI): A day after the Congress Party condemned the Kerala incident, where the youth Congress workers butchered a calf in public, the grand old party drew flak from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who called it a "mere crocodile tears" to hide their real motive and intentions.

Full Story >>

Bengaluru/ Mumbai [India], May 30 (ANI): After former finance minister P. Chidambaram termed the charge against his son Karti meeting with any Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) officer as baseless, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday said it is a "clear cut case of a father protecting his son".

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], May 30 (ANI): Condemning the "downright stupidity" of Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Mohammed Salim for questioning Army Chief General Bipin Rawat's capability of understanding the Indian society, Defence Experts on Tuesday said, making condemnatory statements have become the DNA of the left parties.

Full Story >>

Naxals torched mobile tower in Bihar's Jamui

Updated: May 30, 2017 02:12 IST     

Jamui (Bihar), May 30 (ANI): At least thirty to forty Naxals set ablaze a mobile tower, three kilometers away from a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Bihar's Jamui district.

Full Story >>

Najma Heptulla appointed Jamia Milia Islamia's new Chancellor

Updated: May 30, 2017 00:54 IST     

New Delhi [India], May 30 (ANI): Manipur governor and former minority affairs minister Najma Heptulla has been appointed as the first woman chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia university.

Full Story >>

Nalcha (Tripura) [India], May 30 (ANI): Tripura is known to be one of the major bamboo producing states in India.

Full Story >>

Udhampur (Jammu and Kashmir), May 29 (ANI): Life has got difficult for students of a school in Kasuri area of Udhampur district in Jammu and Kashmir after strong thunderstorm has blown roof of the school, forcing the children to study under open sky.

Full Story >>

PM Modi meets German Chancelor Merkel at Schloss Meseberg

Updated: May 29, 2017 23:41 IST     

Brandenburg [Germany], May 29 (ANI): Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday met German Chancelor Angela Merkel at Schloss Meseberg, the official State Guest House of Germany.

Full Story >>

Uttarakhand: Bike-borne assailant throws acid on girl

Updated: May 29, 2017 23:41 IST     

Haridwar (Uttarakhand) [India], May 29, (ANI): An unidentified bike-borne assailant threw acid on a girl in Uttarakhand's Haridwar for allegedly filing a complaint against him for harassing her.

Full Story >>

Nagaland: Five injured in grenade blast

Updated: May 29, 2017 22:30 IST     

Dimapur (Nagaland), May 29 (ANI): As many as five persons were injured after a grenade that was lobbed at a chemist shop blasted here on Monday.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], May 29 (ANI): President Pranab Mukherjee presented the Malti Gyan Peeth Puraskars for the year 2017 today at a function held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Full Story >>

Hyderabad rehab shocker: Victim shifted to Kasturba Home

Updated: May 29, 2017 22:04 IST     

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], May 29 (ANI): Soon after reports of mistreatment of a young woman in a rehab centre came to light, the victim was shifted to Kasturba Home in Kumar Pallu on Monday.

Full Story >>

Kerala CM urges counterparts to oppose Centre's cattle rule

Updated: May 29, 2017 22:01 IST     

New Delhi [India], May 29, (ANI): Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday urged the Chief Ministers of other states to raise their voices against restrictions imposed on cattle trade, while saying that the Centre's 'anti-democratic' notification is an attempt to usurp the state governments' powers in the guise of rules under a Central Act.

Full Story >>

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], May 29 (ANI): The Meteorological Department on Monday said that Cyclone Mora which will be hitting Bangladesh by tomorrow morning is not expected to bring any immediate danger to India.

Full Story >>

Berlin (Germany), May 29 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs. one lakh to the next of the kin of e-rickshaw driver beaten to death for espousing the social cause of Swachha Bharat.

Full Story >>

India, Fiji sign MoU on defence cooperation

Updated: May 29, 2017 21:05 IST     

New Delhi [India], May 29 (ANI): In an endeavour to strengthen defence ties between India and Fiji, the two nations on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on defence cooperation.

Full Story >>