They emerged from the same backyard, sought the same purpose in life and suffer the same fate in the same place.
By Altaf Khanday
Even some scribes barred from covering the highbrow militant’s funeral failed to read the barking pattern at the garrisoned gates of Kupwara district. That Mannan Wani belonged to the same belt where from the scholarly activist of yore—Maqbool Butt—had begun his Liberation campaign and rose to become the ‘Che of Kashmir’ was the glaring missing plot in their report pile.
Between the two ‘cults’ divided by the eventful period of Kashmir lies the very prognosis of Kashmir’s perpetual state of conflict.
When Trehgam’s Maqbool became the strong votary of Kashmir’s Right to Self Determination, even his family was oblivious of his ‘romanticism’, which soon pushed him across the Ceasefire Line—now Line of Control—as an emissary who would shortly raise his own liberation consortium with the support of Gilgit’s Amanuallah Khan.
But years later, when the Ganga hijacking case would send him behind the bars as an “Indian agent”, Maqbool would broadcast some of his incisive writings in the form of high-octane court speeches — detailing the method behind his madness.
For harbouring the same vociferous mindset, he would be denounced as “Pakistani agent” in Kashmir.
After passing through twists and turns, he was finally arrested upon returning to Kashmir on close heels of the 1975 Indira-Abdullah Accord.
His dramatic trial ended on February 11, 1984—when he was executed in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
In his grave, Trehgam’s Maqbool emerged more dangerous. By late eighties, his idea of Kashmir would send droves of youngsters across LoC for waging the armed struggle in the valley.
The ensued war would greatly shape the understanding of the 90’s generation about the lingering political problem of their homeland. Among them was Lolab’s Mannan Wani.
Years later when Wani would give up his promising academic career for the same path, many felt that he was only pursuing the Maqbool’s path — the Rights to Self Determination.
But before he would seek the ‘gun solution’ to Kashmir’s protracted problem, the vocal scholar had campaigned for AMU’s campus politics. But soon something in him changed forever, and he began talking about the “futility” of the “unyielding” political system.
Akin to Maqbool, Mannan’s penchant for writing became the window of his Kashmiri ‘restless’ mindset. He sought the right to decide his own fate by holding AK-47, which his antagonists dismissed as the “beguiling bravado” against the military strength. Even his twin censored articles delved deep on t(his) thought process.
Mannan further inched closer to Maqbool’s legacy, when he fell to the predawn gunfight in Langate on October 11, 2018.
Some 42 years ago, Maqbool’s fate was also sealed in the same Langate, where his bank break-in attempt became his jail journey.
Between Then and Now, Kashmir’s unresolved conflict zone status keeps consuming more Maqbools and Mannans, in the ruthless war-machinery.
This story first appeared in November print issue of The Indus Post.