Hashim Qureshi

Hashim Qureshi (born 1 October 1953 in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir) is one of the founding members of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and is now the Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party (JKDLP), one of the main separatist Kashmiri political organizations which strives to find a political solution to the Kashmir issue through peaceful and political activities.
Birth and childhood Born in the Nowhatta locality of Srinagar to Mohammad Khaleel Qureshi and Saeeda Begum, Hashim Qureshi comes from a middle class family. He studied at Islamia School, Srinagar. He started his political career at the young age of 14 by participating in demonstrations and stone pelting against Indian occupation in Kashmir. During a trip to Pakistan for his sister’s wedding, he met Maqbool Bhat in 1969 in Peshawar and joined his JKNLF.
Ganga hijacking Maqbool Bhat was the founding father of Kashmir’s independence struggle and he wanted to highlight the Kashmir issue internationally. He masterminded the idea of a hijacking. He chose Hashim Qureshi for the hijacking who along with his cousin Ashraf Qureshi hijacked an Indian Airlines plane on 30 January 1971 (Ganga) en route from Srinagar to Jammu and brought the plane to Lahore, Pakistan. Hashim Qureshi was only 17 years old. The Indian Airlines flight was carrying 30 people including crew members. After landing on Lahore Airport the hijackers demanded the release of about two dozen political prisoners of the JKNLF in Indian prisons, political asylum in Pakistan and guarantee from the Indian Government that there relatives in Srinagar, will not be hurt in anyway. The Hijackers were greeted by the Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who would later become the Prime Minister of Pakistan. On February the 1st 1971 all the passengers and crew were sent back to India via Amritsar and the ‘Ganga’ was set on fire by the Pakistani ISI [3][4].The hijackers and Maqbool Bhat were firstly praised as heroes and freedom fighters (as this was the first instance Kashmiris had brought their cause to the attention of the World) but then they and hundreds of other members of JKNLF were arrested, interrogated in Shahee Qila, Lahore and Dolayee Camp near Muzaffarabad. Later six of them were tried in a Special Court of Pakistan under the charges of collaboration with the Indian intelligence services. They were Maqbool Bhat, G.M. Lone, Mir Abdul Qayyum, Mir Abdul Manan and the two hijackers Hashim Qureshi and Ashraf Qureshi.The case started in December 1971 and after a long trial in which 1984 prosecuting and 1942 defence witnessed were called was concluded in May 1973. All but Hashim Qureshi were cleared of all charges other than dealing with arms and explosives etc. Hashim Qureshi was sentenced for nineteen years imprisonment. Maqbool Bhat submitted for this case a statement which is arguably the most detailed reflection of his political ideology, excerpt: “I can say without any hesitation that I have not designed any conspiracy nor have I been a part of any group of conspirers. My character has always been transparent and unambiguous. However, I have done one thing and that is the rebellion against ignorance, greed of wealth, exploitation oppression, slavery and hypocrisy. If the ruling class of Pakistan that is a product of imperialism and represented by the bureaucracy and military dictatorship of this country views this as conspiracy then I have no hesitation in accepting the charge”. Ganga Case was carried out under special presidential orders of the then President of Pakistan Yahya Khan according to which the accused were denied the right to appeal against the decision of this Special Court. Despite many requests and protests in Azad Kashmir and Pakistan the right to appeal for Ganga accused was not accepted. The right to appeal was restored only after the British Kashmiris warned several Pakistani ministers on their visits to Britain that the unlawful tactics of the Pakistani rulers to convict these Kashmiris will be exposed. Using this right JKNLF filed an appeal against the Special Court’s decision about Hashim Qureshi. But it took seven years before this appeal was heard at Supreme Court, which was compromised of a full bench of three judges, where Hashim Qureshi was eventually also cleared.
The Pakistani authorities released Hashim Qureshi in 1980. He married the daughter of his maternal uncle in 1982. In 1985, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) approached him in order to join hands. The ISI wanted to get young people from Kashmir, for training. They offered him money, land and other things. After long discussions of four months, he declined. He argued that Pakistan had also occupied Gilgit- Baltistan and PoK, where there is no democracy. After that the Pakistani authorities started hunting him, he managed to escape Pakistan and fled to The Netherlands. He had to leave his wife, who was then pregnant, and their two children. They joined him after four months with help from Amnesty International and other Human Rights organizations
Formation of Jammu Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party Hashim Qureshi stayed connected to the fight for Kashmiri independence and wrote articles and press releases to the leaders in Kashmir warning not to start an armed rebellion. He believed that the freedom movement of a country cannot be run by another country or foreign intelligence agencies. It has to be an indigenous movement, not one running at somebody else’s behest. He wanted to correct the wrong path the struggle had been led to and save Kashmir from unwanted elements. According to him weapons were the enemy of the Kashmiri people in this era and the Kashmiri rebellion would be called a terrorist movement instead of a freedom movement. After having read Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and others in jail, Hashim Qureshi, now was convinced that an armed struggle would only damage the Kashmiri cause and advocated a non-violent movement based on the principle of civil disobedience.
Because of JKLF’s collaboration with the ISI and differences with the then Chairman Amanullah Khan on his role in the Ravindra Mhatre case, he left the JKLF in 1993 and formed his own Jammu Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party (JKDLP) in 1994.
Return to Kashmir from exile Hashim Qureshi returned to India after an exile of almost 30 years on 29 December 2000. He was immediately arrested at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport and was produced before metropolitan magistrate Gulshan Kumar, who remanded him to judicial custody till January 11, 2000.
Hashim Qureshi filed Habeas Corpus, challenging the magistrate’s order on the ground that his detention was illegal and that he could not be retried as per the law as he was already sentenced to life by a Pakistan court and had served a prison term for over nine years. He later on withdrew his writ petition, because according to his counsel K.T.S. Tulsi, Qureshi had conveyed his wish that he was very anxious to go back to Kashmir. “He wanted to go as a free man, but as it is taking so much time he has decided to withdraw, said Tulsi. Adding, that he came back to India to be in Kashmir, with his people. As he is not well, he thought it would be better to continue the case in J&K. Later on he withdrew his Habeaus Corpus petition in the Delhi High Court and was flown to Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir on 12 January 2000.
In Kashmir he was again charged for the 1971 hijacking with wrongful confinement, robbery, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy. He was also charged with hatching a criminal conspiracy with hanged JKNLF’s founder Maqbool Bhat under a section of the Enemy Ordinance Act 3. This accuses him of being a Pakistani agent. Ironically he was charged under the same ordinance in Pakistan during the hijacking trial, which accused him of being an Indian agent. Maqbool Bhat and Hashim Qureshi are the only two Kashmiris who have been charged under the Enemy Ordinance Act in Pakistan as well as India.