At a time when President APJ Kalam has a mercy petition of Afzal Guru sent to him by his family, yet another petition is about to land on his table urging him to ask the Central Government to handover the remains of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder Maqbool Butt to his family for the final rites as per religious and cultural traditions.
Maqbool Butt, who was charged with killing a CID official, was hanged in Tihar Jail on February 11, 1984. A number of groups in Kashmir had traced the birth of terrorism in the Valley to the hanging of Butt. Among those voices was that of National Conference patron and former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. The Maqbool Butt Foundation has launched a signature campaign across the Valley for the return of the remains of the JKLF founder.
The petition up for signatures says, ”We, the people and the civil society of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, express our anguish and concern over the denial of rights of people of Jammu Kashmir to obtain the possession of the remains of their fellow subject of the state, Maqbool Butt to bury according to their own cultural and religious tradition.”
The petition gives a posthumous twist to the whole case against Butt. It says that Butt was "killed by hanging on February 11, 1984 in Tihar jail, Delhi as the consequence of retaliation expressed by that time Indian regime. He was hanged to take the revenge of the killing of an Indian diplomat by some unknown organization claiming to be Kashmiri."
It is a clear bid by the sponsors of the petition to disassociate Maqbool Butt from the crime for which he was convicted and hanged. It says that it was "an act of shame for a country called India. Even after his death, his body was not handed over to his family and people, rather buried in Tihar Jail."
A grave is already lying vacant – reserved for him- at a graveyard in Eidgah in the summer capital of Srinagar, where a majority of the terrorist leaders are buried.
The copy of the petition has also been sent to the UN Secretary General for his intervention in the matter.