Muhammad Maqbool Butt Death Anniversary: Public Holiday in AJK

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Naila Altaf Kayani

Azad Kashmir’s premier announced 11 February to be observed as “Youm e Azm e Nau” in order to pay homage to martyrs of Kashmir who sacrificed their lives in defiance against oppressor India. In a decision widely appreciated across the state, he also announced a state-wide public holiday to highlight significance of this day. 11 February is observed as the death anniversary of renowned kashmiri freedom fighter Mohammad Maqbool Butt, who was hanged in 1984 in notorious Tihar Jail in New Dehli. Butt is known as Shaheed e Kashmir, he was founder of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, which was banned in India in March 2019, followed by closure of its offices and detention of its main leaders, including its chairman Yasin Malik.
Butt was a native of North Kashmir village of Trehgam, and is known as the pioneer of Kashmir’s armed resistance movement. Another important day falls in February as Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri whose controversial hanging took place on 9th of the month in 2013, for his alleged role in the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001. It is worth to mention here that the mortal remains of Guru like those of Butt also remain buried in the premises of New Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
History of Kashmir is full of sacrifices of its sons of soil, thousands have offered selfless sacrifices of their lives but the martyrdoms of Guru and Butt are significant, as these sacrifices had breathed a new life in Kashmir’s resistance struggle. Butt’s hanging was a beacon that illuminated the way for generations to come and which sparked the emergence of insurgency in the valley; Guru’s hanging on the other hand, proved to be the tipping point for reviving the insurgency which had largely receded. Our martyrs will remain alive and fresh in the memory of generations to come and in the conscience of the every Kashmiri.
Although, declaring Youm_e_Azm_e_Nau as a public holiday is a mark of respect and is appreciable, yet instead of enjoying picnics and parties and sitting idle on a holiday, schools and colleges should be asked to arrange special ceremonies and programmes to pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. Their message and ideology should be discussed in seminars and conferences.
Youm_e_Azm_e_Nau is a way to renew our pledge to continue our liberation struggle till it reaches its ultimate goal. Tireless struggle of our heroes for the larger cause would continue to inspire coming generations. We are proud of the great sons of the soil who preferred to kiss the gallows rather than compromising their ideals. Their sacrifices have made us debtors and it is now our duty to safeguard these sacred sacrifices.