HE IS DYING BEHIND THE BARS, DOES ANYONE CARE ???
He completes 15 years in prison, He is languishing in Jail for holding political views that are unacceptable to the ruling establishment. He has lost half of his eye sight, and has been advised surgery by doctors for his L4 disc. He is taking medicine regularly for his chronic intestinal ailment. His heart disease is a matter of serious concern for his family and well-wishers but the Government of India still considers him a threat to Indian sovereignty, Advocate Abdul Mateen sums up the life and thoughts of Dr. Qasim.
“Dr Muhammad Qasim an outstanding political ideologue and writer of contemporary Kashmir, is suffering incarceration for holding political beliefs that are unacceptable to the ruling establishment and he has been convicted under an infamous Indian anti-terrorist legislation in a trial that manifestly was wanting in judicial fairness as overzealous prosecutors employed dubious investigatory methods for collecting materials of evidential value on the basis of which Dr. Qasim was ultimately tried and convicted for life.
The international commission of jurists and other like minded non-governmental organizations has a Sisyphean task in combating the unfairness of these political trials. Yet they can play a useful role in mobilizing world public opinion against the iniquity of such trials, as a large number of faceless, voiceless and hapless people in several countries of the world are suffering incarceration for their political beliefs and nobody has time in the civilized world to address to their plight.
The trial of Dr.Qasim should serve as a wakeup call for those international organizations who are striving for “Human Rights” and “Rule of Law” so that we are able to establish a world order that is just, equitable and rational. I earnestly hope that Dr. Qasim’s case will receive due attention from concerned quarters that it really deserves on its own merits.” Sayyid Tasaduq Hussain
Sr. Advocate J&K High Court
Dr. Muhammad Qasim S/o Gh. Nabi R/o Soura Srinagar was born in 1967 in a middle class family at Zaldagar Srinagar. His father was a well known handicraft exporter. Among five children he was the youngest one. In the year 1980 when he was 13 years of age his father at the age of 50 years due to a severe heart attack left this world. It was a great shock to whole family and his friends. It was time when all the five children were studying thus, the main problem before the family was of livelihood. They were having two showrooms at Pather Masjid and Rainawari localities. But the problem was that, who will take care of these two showrooms. At that time the age of elder brother of Dr. Muhammad Qasim was just 18, it was crucial stage for whole family as the studies of all the children could have effected. At this sensitive moment his elder brother showed his broad mindedness and courage by coming forward to take the whole responsibility of the family and sacrificing his own studies so that Dr. Muhammad Qasim and three sisters could continue their studies without any problem, but due to his young age and inexperience the business started to decline, but during this period his two sisters completed their studies and got married. In 1983 Dr. Qasim completed the basic studies i.e. Matriculation from the Modern Islamia High School, Nawab Bazar and immediately after that started tuition to some local children and got an ordinary sort of engagement to help his family financially. In 1985 the police department sought applications from the youth for the recruitment for the post of Sub-Inspectors. Dr. Qasim also appeared in the selection test for the said posts. For the selection he was demanded Rs. 25000/- as bribe since he was not in a position to pay the amount so in spite of completing all other formalities he was not selected. Dr. Qasim often uses to say that I felt very much sorry and distressed at that time for not being selected for the said post. I used to curse that person who demanded the money, but now I pray for his good, regarding that incident he says that when your point of view changes regarding life, the yardstick to measure good and evil also got changed. At that time not becoming an Inspector was a great shock for me but in 1993 immediately after my arrest the advisor to Governor D.D. Saklani came to me at Papa-2 interrogation centre three times to convince me for taking part in the elections. He not only assured me the success in the elections but also assured me the ministerial berth. On another occasion in Jan 2002 at Talab Tiloo interrogation centre Jammu the same offer was repeated by some intelligence officers but on the both occasions without giving any thought to their offers with great satisfaction I rejected the offer thus, gave priority to the jail. Although there is no comparison between an ordinary inspector post and ministerial berth but my view point regarding life was entirely different now. Regarding the year 1987, Dr. Muhammad Qasim writes that this year was turning point for me. In his autobiography (yet to be published) Bebasi (helplessness) he says that until 1987 I was an ordinary type of college student, always engaged in playing, seeing cricket and other sports. But in that year first time in my life I felt actively inclined towards Islam. Probably in this change, by the will of Allah the book of Maulana Ashaq Illahi, Marne Ke Ba’d kya Hoga (what will happen after death) played an important role. “Now I kept related myself with Darsgah and used to remain in touch with religious minded companions.” In 1987 Dr. Qasim completed his B.Com degree from Islamia College and in order to appear in the exams of ICWA which were going to be held at Delhi started the preparation for the entrance test. During that period with the help of one religious colleague namely Tariq Ahmad Sheikh of Hyderpora Dr. Qasim met a well known guerilla leader Muhammad Abdullah Bangru who had returned to Kashmir after getting guerilla training in Afghanistan. In 1990 Dr. Qasim was appointed as spokesman of the Hizbul Mujahidin (H.M) outfit. He did not give up his studies but changed his subject and chose Islamiyat instead of ICWA and with that also started his writing career. He regularly wrote for the local newspapers. His columns were published in the newspapers and journals. He used to write column Kadwa Sach (Bitter truth) for the daily Alsafa newspaper. In 1990 he along with his two other companions namely Nasir ul-Islam and Dr. Muhammad Shafi Khan objected to the patronage of Jamat-i-Islami over Hizbul Mujahedin and laid the foundation of Jamait-ul-Mujahedin (JUM). He was appointed its spokesman. In Oct. 1990 Dr. Qasim married chairperson of women reformist organization Dukhtran-i-Millat, Asiyah Andrabi and got related with known educated and religious family of Kashmir. While continuing his studies he completed the degrees of Maulvi Fazil, M.A, M. Phil and Ph.D (Islamic Studies) from the Kashmir University. Teaching and preaching became his fulltime engagements. He started giving the sermons in different mosques, and also raised the voice against the social evils and theoretical apostasies which were flourishing in the society, and alongwith these engagements he also worked for permanent solution of the Kashmir problem according to the wishes of the people and used his oratory skills and pen in this regard. Hundreds of his essays which were on various topics were published not only in the local dailies but also in the fortnightly and monthly magazines of the various states of India.
Besides this his many books in which i) Insan ka ta’ruf, ii) Dai Da‘wat Aur Madu‘ iii) Maslaki Masajid Aur Tafriq bainul Muslemin iv) Kashmiyat Aur Itihad Bainul Muslemin v) Maslai Kashmir ki Shari‘e Hassiyat vi) Aqedah Tawhid Aur Bharti Intikhabaat Main Shirkat vii) Al-Tawhid (in English) viii) The Status of Sunnah are particularly worth mentioning. In 1993, he along with his wife and infant child Muhammad were arrested at Srinagar airport while returning from Delhi. After 13 months of detention his wife and infant son were released but he was detained under PSA and sent to the jail for one year. Since you had endowed his pen for the freedom movement, for the Indian rulers who always talk about freedom of expression and pen should not have been any crime but here their yardstick is quite different. Not any where in the detention grounds militant activities were mentioned so it was obvious that, the government would have been compelled to release him after one year thus, ruling establishment used extremely wicked method to settle its political rivalry, as BSF men and intelligence agencies through severe torture in the notorious Papa-2 interrogation centre forced Dr. Qasim to sign some blank papers and after that he came to know that he has been involved in the conspiracy of a murder of some person namely Hardai Nath Wanchoo. In March 1999 when he was released on bail there arose severe differences between him and the ‘actual controllers’ of the militant movement which resulted end of his affiliation with militant organization. And thus he confined himself to writing and preaching. During this period on the invitation of Muslim Parliament of London he visited Britain and on the invitation of WAMY visited Saudi Arabia and to meet some relatives he visited Pakistan. On his return he established teaching centres at Raj Bagh, Hazratbal and various other places.In July 2001 the TADA Court Jammu honourably acquitted him and his two companions in the above said case. But the decision did not suit ruling establishment thus, they filed petition against this judgement in the Supreme Court of India and in Jan 2003 the Supreme Court acknowledged that since there is no evidence against Dr. Qasim and his two companions and case is solely based on their ‘confessional statements’ still the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India sentenced them for life imprisonment. Here I want to draw the kind attention of the readers towards an important point.In August 2002 the Chairman of JKLF Mr. Muhammad Yasin Malik informed Dr. Qasim through his friend that, he (Yasin Malik) had information through some of his Delhi based friends that platform has been set for slapping the life imprisonment for Dr. Qasim. In Nov. 2002 a well known Hurriyat activist Muhammad Salim Zargar has personally told Dr. Qasim that the sleuths of intelligence department have told him (Salim Zargar) in the Jammu Court that they will never allow Dr. Qasim to come out of the jail. Here an important question arises that the judgement was to be given by the Supreme Court of India as in Jan 2003 it did, how came the intelligence sleuths and ruling establishment know about this judgement before it was announced? And that too when the famous advocates of the valley like Mr. Abdul Qayum, Mr. Mufti Mehraj-ud-din, Mr. Zaffer Ahmad Shah, Sayyid Tasaduq Hussain, Mr. Abdullah Pandit and also the famous advocates of India Mr. Kapil Sibal and Mr. B.B. Singh had assured Dr. Qasim after seeing the charge sheet that there is not even an one percent (1%) chance of conviction in this case. Important question here is that, from where then this decision of sentencing him was taken?......
His political views:
Dr. Qasim’s political views regarding Kashmir are based on historical realities, justice and logic. He doesn’t consider Dogra ruler Hari Singh as public representative thus, rejects his decision of accession to India. He is of the opinion that Indian National Congress with the help of Shaikh Abdullah created such atmosphere for Hari Singh which ultimately forced him to sign document of accession even he himself was not mentally prepared for that he was very much confused about the future of Kashmir and it was assurance given by Shaikh Abdullah to him which encouraged him to take decision of accession, which was not only against the principle of partition but in every aspect against the wishes of the masses of Kashmir. At the same time Dr. Qasim did not accept this cooked history that Indian forces landed in Kashmir only after the document of accession was signed by Hari Singh while quoting an authority on Kashmir Alastair Lamb in his book mentions that Indian forces were already here and they even received their companions on 27th of Oct, 1947. He raises million dollar question when he asked Indian rulers that, they are asking Huriyat Conference leadership to prove their representative character what about Hari Singh? Was he elected representative of Kashmiri people? How his decision of accession was accepted? If as a ruler he had a right to take such decision what about ruler of Junagarh why his decision to accede Junagarh to Pakistan was not accepted by Indian rulers? Another irrelevant aspect of this so-called accession is that Hari Singh signed the document of accession at a time when public movement against him was on its peak and he was forced to quit Kashmir and he signed the document only after quitting Kashmir. I do not think after knowing these historical realties any sane and just person can say that, Hari Singh’s decision of accession has no legal or moral standing. According to Dr. Qasim battle between people of Kashmir and Indian rulers is basically battle between history of Kashmir and Indian occupation. Universal truth about history that it repeats itself will deliver its part in Kashmir also and once history of Kashmir repeats itself India will be forced and forced by circumstances to quit Kashmir thus, one has to wait and see how long Indian might be able to stop history of Kashmir from its repetition. He advocates that while taking history of Kashmir into consideration this problem must be solved according to the wishes of Kashmiri people as has been promised by India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Nehru from 1947 till his demise (1962) he repeatedly took pledges before the world, Pakistani rulers, Indian parliament and people of Kashmir. He used to say as soon as peace restores in Kashmir people of Kashmir will be given right to decide their future. Dr. Qasim argues that demanding plebiscite in Kashmir is in other words demand to Indian rulers that they should fulfill promises of their first prime minister Pandit Nehru regarding future of Kashmir; he further says one fails to understand how it has become crime in Kashmir to demand plebiscite. He is very disgusted with the political leaders of the state, he says it were Shaikh Abdullah, Ghulam Muhammad Bakhshi and Ghulam Muhammad Sadiq and then Faruq Abdullah, Mufti Sayid and Ghulam Nabi Azad now who are giving political shield to Indian military occupation here in Kashmir, he writes further that for mere power and personal interests the state political leader mislead Indian government about ground realities on Kashmir particularly regarding the wishes of people resulting Indian government repeatedly instead of finding solution to this humane problem indulged itself in solving the superficial and secondary problems/issues in Kashmir. He pleads that it is not problem in Kashmir but problem of Kashmir which Government of India should address. He blames state Indian leaders for misguiding Indian government that the present situation in Kashmir is unemployment problem it is why Indian leaders are announcing economic packages and job schemes. He while appealing Indian rulers, says that Kashmir problem is of political nature thus, must be solved according to the wishes of the people and economic packages can not heal up political wounds.While discussing universal principle of the state craft Dr. Qasim says that there are ample examples in history and even today we can see it existing that, rulers ruling over their subjects against their wishes merely on the basis of their military might, he says it was easy to rule over subjects against their wishes in past and even today but in all these cases their rule did not continue for long and shall not exist in future too, resistance of oppressed people and sometimes even circumstances forced such oppressors to quit occupied states.
Even today mighty rulers can rule directly or through local poodles states and countries but can not rule over hearts of people. One can subdue everything by might but cannot win a single heart by might. Dr. Qasim while giving the example of India itself says how many kingdoms were established from Chandar Gupt Muriyah to king Akbar since they only ruled over the bodies of their subjects today their reference is confined only in history books, on the contrary the kingdoms which were established by the great personalities like Gautam Budah, Mahawirah and Hazrat Nizam-al-din on hearts of people are still existing and even today they rule infinite number of subjects throughout the world, the prince of Kapilvastau left his superficial empire because he wanted to rule the hearts of the people thus, established an empire which is existing even today. He raises very important question when he says that in last 58 years Indian rulers with all their efforts and tricks have failed to win the hearts of the Kashmiri people, even though spending billions on Kashmir the situation here is that even a single Kashmiri is not ready to allow any Indian political leader or a security personnel to enter his house thus, there is a yawning gulf of hatred between India and Kashmir and brutalities of Indian forces are adding to this hatred by every passing day. Dr. Qasim regarding this situation goes even to this extent that from the core of heart the political leaders right from Sheikh Abdullah to Faruq Abdullah were not Indians but they became or pretend to be Indians only because of lust for power. If Kashmiris are given right of self determination I am of firm belief that Faruq Abdullah will cast his vote in favour of independence and not in favour of India. That is why Dr. Qasim strongly opposes the killing of pro-Indian political leader and workers. Since having deep knowledge of history of Kashmir he says that history can be mutilated and can be wrongly interpreted too but it cannot be destroyed thus like Hindu faith of rebirth history repeats itself. While clarifying it he writes that against the wishes of the people, Mughals ruled Kashmir for 167 years, Afgan for 66 years, Sikhs for 27 years and Dogras for about 99 years since, they fail to win hearts of Kashmiri people they were forced by circumstance to quit Kashmir. Dr. Qasim is in full agreement with famous historian Pandit Kalhan that, Kashmiris cannot be win over by sword. Since Indian rulers have failed and failed miserably to win the hearts of Kashmiri people thus, their rule over Kashmir will not last long. When Indian rulers will accept this bitter truth they will allow Kashmiri people to decide their future, meanwhile they are doing everything to stop history of Kashmir from its repetition. He further says that the result of this battle between history of Kashmir and Indian occupation might emerge very soon, according to him history is not only unbeatable force but court also and it has to announce its verdict against Indian occupation.Dr. Qasim is also in agreement with the opinion of Raj Mohan Gandhi that to solve the Kashmir issue fairly it is compulsory for the Indian leaders to make aware their subjects about the historical realities of Kashmir at the earliest. In this context Indian print and electronic media has to play vital role. Regarding Kashmir he considers that, may it be accession of Hari Singh (1947), Nehru Abdullah agreement (1952), Indira Abdullah agreement (1975), or Shastri Ayub agreement (1966) Indra Bhattu agreement (1972),Vajpayee Nawaz agreement (1999), these all agreements failed to solve Kashmir dispute because they did not take into account wishes of Kashmiri people, further he says that even if today any agreement takes place regarding Kashmir between Manmohan-Musahraf or Manmohan-Huriyat Conference, where wishes of people are ignored it will be one more attempt in futility and this will not change hearts and minds of people about Delhi. Dr. Qasim in his every book and article requests Indian government that they should show sense of wisdom, farsightedness and political vision and should understand and acknowledge aspirations of people and at the same time should go into history of Kashmir, it is only then they can convince themselves to accept the truth about Kashmir. It is solution of Kashmir issue only which can make relations between Pakistan and India cordial and it is this cordial relation between these two neighbours which will ultimately pave the way for Sub-continent’s peace and prosperity.Dr. Qasim first political leader who put forward three point formula for changing this freedom movement of Kashmir into self reliant movement. 1) After taking the militant organizations into confidence the Huriyat Conference and other political organizations should draft a bottom line on Kashmir issue when he talks about bottom line one should not misunderstand him that he is advocating any solution with in the sovereignty of India not at all what he mean to say is that there are various options even outside the Indian sovereignty thus political and militant leadership should unanimously choose one of them.2) Political organizations should not accept the monetary help from any government or agency instead of this should raise funds locally 3) They must snap all kinds of relations with the intelligence agencies of Delhi and Islamabad. When he put forth these suggestions before political and militant organizations in his speeches and writings Huriyat Conference and other leaders declare all this as mere imagination. But after 9/11 his friends and foes both not only acknowledged his farsightedness but are also talking now about indigenous movement it was his prophecy when he in his famous book Maslai Kashmir ki Shar‘i Hathiyat (published in June 2001) wrote that today or tomorrow Musharaf government will take U turn from Pakistan’s traditional stand on Kashmir which is obvious today. Although people are considering 9/11 responsible for this U turn but Dr. Qasim has in detail discussed the reasons which actually led Musharaf government to this U turn in the said book. Actually it was this political farsightedness and practical vision for which he was sentenced for life in a case he was implicated by the state authorities he often says that if I would have been given this life imprisonment for my political beliefs and thoughts I would have cheerfully accepted it but the cover of murder which the authorities took and without any witness and only on the basis of so-called confessional statement even after Jammu TADA Court had honourably acquitted him with his two colleagues this hurts lot. Dr. Qasim is first ever Kashmiri scholar and political ideologue who has been sentenced for life solely on the basis of his political beliefs. Strange aspect of his case is that TADA court acquitted him saying confessional statement has been extracted without following norms for recording the confessional statement and has been recorded under duress conditions. It is also surprising I think it is unique case in the history of TADA court too that lower court is acquitting somebody and apex court is sentencing him for life.We ask justice loving politicians, intellectuals, journalists, judges, advocates and organizations working for human rights that is it possible that a person having moderate views regarding religion, economy, politics and society can involve himself in a murder of an innocent person?From, last 15 years Dr. Muhammad Qasim is languishing behind bars for a crime he never committed. Not only his family, his wife and little children are in pain and agony but his well wishers too are worried due to his continuous imprisonment people of Kashmir are looking for his earliest release. His religious, educational, political and social services to his community are an open book. In this world of freedom of expression and thought his detention is a question mark on Indian democracy.Here I conclude my paper by the words of Jinab Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Chairman of Tehrik-i-Huriyat regarding Dr. Qasim.
“In Central Jail Srinagar there is our sincere colleague, pious devotee of Islam and freedom fighter Dr. Muhammad Qasim who after acquittal from TADA court, just for political revenge and to keep him away from this oppressed nation and to deprive people of Kashmir from his educational and religious abilities, was sentenced to life imprisonment. His remembrance, his ambition for reformation of society and his wish to liberate this nation will never fade away from our hearts and mind. His continuous imprisonment is a hurdle in our comprehensive work for freedom. It is not beyond the mercy and blessings of Allah Almighty that he comes out from this ordeal.”