The Shift In Kashmir: Huge Setback For Pakistan 

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First Time In 38 Yrs, Trehgam Open On Maqbool Bhat Death Anniversary

Enough Of Hartal Politics, Say Traders

In what is being seen as a significant shift in Kashmir, Trehgam, the village of Maqbool Bhat, remained opened on the day of his death anniversary – for the first time in 38 years. Bhat was a Kashmiri separatist and co-founder of National Liberation Front (NLF), a precursor to the present-day Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). He had carried out militant operations in Jammu and Kashmir in which two officials were killed. He was tried and received double death sentence. He was hanged on 11 February 1984 at Tihar Jail in Delhi. Bhat hailed from Trehgam village in Kupwara district. In the 38 years since 1984, the market of Trehgam always observed a shutdown on February

Residents of Trehgam say the village has been a hotbed of militancy and separatism for over three decades. A large number of militant handlers in Pakistan hail from Trehgam village. The refusal of the villagers to toe the old separatist line this year is being seen by some local residents as “a huge slap for Pakistan”.

Pakistan Tried Hard To Sustain The Resistance

Sources say that on February 10, Maqbool Bhat’s sister Zoona went to every shopkeeper in the Trehgam market, asking them to keep their shops closed on the day of his death anniversary. “Earlier she never needed to ask any trader to close the shop. People would close their shops themselves. But this year we refused to do so,” stated a trader.

PEOPLE FED UP OF HARTALS

Former president of Trehgam Traders Federation, Mohd Aslam said that people are fed up of hartal politics. “The future of our so many generations got spoiled by getting involved in Pakistan’s evil designs for Kashmir. Now we don’t want our children to be part of the same daldal. Hence we decided not to close the shops today,” said Mohd Aslam. Some locals said there is realization that in the name of azadi, Pakistan is destroying Kashmir. Mushtaq Ahmad Mir, the Lambardar of Trehgam and a leading trader of the area said that the economy of the region suffered immensely due to the frequent shutdown calls given by separatists. “We have endured enough. Our children should not have to face what we faced,” he said.

“Maqbool Bhat’s brother Zahoor Bhat is a double dealer…He has ruined the career of so many youngsters. He made them stone pelters by giving them money… For the first time on February 11, people led a normal life and felt relaxed”

One former militant commander of Trehgam named Hussain Mir, also known as Tariq, is now running a poultry farm in his village. Hussain Mir said that Maqbool Bhat has only given a bad name to the village. “We have been looked upon as suspects throughout our life. So many people got influenced by the activities of Maqbool Bhat and got associated with terror operators. They willy-nilly took the same path of militancy. But now many of us are realizing the truth. Maqbool Bhat’s own brother Zahoor Bhat is a double dealer. He was always working on the directions of Pakistan to spoil the life of the youngsters in Kashmir. For many years, he has been involved in subversive activities and in instigating violence. He has ruined the career of so many young men. He made the youth stone pelters by giving them money. People feel happy that Zahoor Bhat is in jail. For the first time on February 11, people led a normal life and felt relaxed. We have destroyed one generation. Now we cannot deceive our children.”

Trehgam Residents Hostile Towards Riffat Gul Wani

Riffat Gul Wani is a woman of Kashmiri origin who stays at the forefront on the social media for instigating youngsters towards violence. Her parents hailed from Trehgam. Now, many residents of Trehgam say that Riffat has no connection with their village or with Kashmir. Hussain Mir, a former militant commander of Trehgam told KASHMIR CENTRAL that Riffat’s parents left Kashmir before the armed conflict started. “Riffat was four years old when they left Trehgam and settled in Pakistan. Riffat married a Pakistani and is now settled in Germany. On what basis does she call herself a Kashmiri? On what basis does she call Kashmir “my country”? She should at least be honest and call herself a Pakistani. It is not even the country of her parents. They chose Pakistan. We have seen this woman on social media, always trying to provoke the Kashmiri youth. We all know that she is paid by ISI for instigating the youth here. We all are aware that she is continuously on social media for the big money Pakistan is giving her, so that she can lead a luxurious life. Let this woman come to Trehgam and feel our pain. Let her see what we have lost because of Pakistan’s empty slogans for Kashmir. She is living a grand life in Germany. Her children are studying in AC classrooms. But in the last ten years, our children have gone through hartal for 3255 hartal days when schools were shut down due to the mischief of Pakistan. Let Riffat Wani come and see this,” said Hussain Mir.

No public interest in protests, agitations, shutdowns

Maqbool Bhat was hanged on February 11, 1984. From 1984 to 2014, all markets and offices would remain closed in Kashmir on the call given by the separatists. The call for the hartal would be given by Yaseen Malik of JKLF. Other tanzeems used to endorse it as a formality. This is because Pakistan does not endorse Maqbool Bhat or Yaseen Malik, since JKLF supports an independent Kashmir. After 2014, deep differences cropped up among the diverse groups of separatists. A major reason for the rift was that when separatists aligned with one group were arrested by the government on charges of money laundering or promotion of terror activities, other groups did not speak up for them. Over this issue of altercation and other grounds, the separatist groups started drifting apart. Steadily after 2014, since other separatist groups did not endorse the call for hartal in Kashmir on the death anniversary of Maqbool Bhat, the practice of shutdown on this day got confined only to two areas. One was Trehgam, the village from where Maqbool Bhat hailed. The other pocket was Maisuma and Nowhatta in downtown Srinagar. JKLF leader Yasin Malik holds some influence in these areas. On February 11, 2022, Maisuma and Nowhatta in downtown Srinagar were the only areas in Kashmir where some shops remained closed on account of Maqbool Bhat’s death anniversary. No other impact was seen. The markets remained open. The movement of traffic was not affected. Mobile or internet services were not shut down. On February 9, the death anniversary of Afzal Guru, there was no impact on daily life in Kashmir. Afzal Guru was hanged in Tihar on 9 February 2013. Till 2019 separatists would issue shutdown calls in advance on February 9 and February 11 to press their demand for the return of Maqbool Bhat’s and Afzal Guru’s mortal remains to their family. Public transport used to remain off roads. Mobile and internet services were usually snapped on both days. At times, there used to be law and order issues in some areas because of the vested interests of the separatists and the local tensions created by them. After the abrogation of Article 370, the interest of Kashmiris has significantly waned in public protests or agitations.

In 2022, all the markets remained open on February 9 and also on February 11. The movement of traffic was not impacted. Mobile or internet services were not shut down.

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