A day after he returned from Muzaffarabad,the J-K Police arrested Zahoor Ahmad Bhat,brother of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) founder,Mohammad Maqbool Bhat.
“We have arrested him (Bhat),” said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kupwara,Uttam Chand. “We have registered a case against him for involvement in unlawful activities”.
On Wednesday,Bhat surfaced at his native village in Trehgam in Kupwara after spending 20 years in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and addressed a massive public rally on the 25th death anniversary of his brother Maqbool Bhat,who was executed at Tihar jail in 1984. Bhat returned to valley to join separatist politics but was arrested by the J-K Police early in the morning.
“J-K Police and (Central Reserve Police Force) CRPF had cordoned our village early in the morning and arrested him at 9.30 a.m.,” Bhat’s nephew Parvez Ahmad Bhat said. “The police returned in the afternoon and arrested his family members also”. Parvez said that police arrested Bhat’s wife Aamina Zahoor,three daughters – Midhat Zahoor (7),Nafila Zahoor (4) and Zunnoon Zahoor (3) and his one-year-old son,Mohammad Abdullah Bhat.
The Police,however,denied arresting Bhat’s family. “We have only arrested Bhat and not any of his family members,” SSP Chand said.
Bhat had left valley in the beginning of the militancy and was associated with JKLF (Aman) group in Muzaffarabad. He had returned to valley to head the organization in valley. On his return,he told the people that he has returned to valley to put forward the message of his slain brother and founder of pro-independence JKLF,Maqbool Bhat.
“I have returned to deliver the message of Maqbool Bhat to you,” he said in his public address. “We don’t want (affiliation) with Pakistan or India. We want an independent Kashmir”.
In his address,Bhat advocated a violence-free “struggle”. “Now we don’t need gun,” he said. “I have come back to fight the political struggle for the cause. JKLF was active on four fronts – militancy,politics,diplomacy and media but now militancy has gone to the last position”.
Though police is tight-lipped as to how Bhat was able to enter valley,sources say that he returned to valley through Nepal. “We are yet to ascertain it,” SSP Chand said. “We have not yet got chance to talk to him”.
Bhat has already lost four brothers during the conflict. His older brother,Maqbool Bhat was executed in 1984. Another brother,Habibullah Bhat disappeared when he had gone to meet Maqbool Bhat at Tihar Jail. Bhat’s two more brothers Ghulam Nabi Bhat (Convener of JKLF) and Manzoor Ahmad Bhat were killed in separate encounters with security forces at Srinagar and Trehgam respectively.
Bhat’s arrest triggered protests in his native village and people took to streets raising slogans against J-K Police and state government despite heavy deployment of J-K Police and CRPF.