Wednesday, July 24, 2013


 Abdul Quayyum Raja was born into a Rajput clan famous for resistance against invaders throughout the ages. He was born on the 15th of September 1956 in the forcibly divided land of Kashmir.  He matriculated from his home town Khuıratta before moving to Europe in 1979. He continued his education and obtained a Master's Degree ın Social Sciences and a degree in Psychology, including certificates in International History, English Language and Literature as well as in the German and Dutch languages. He has authored six books and hundreds of articles on various issues of public concern.  His current column is 'Speaking the Truth'.

While studying in Paris in the mid 1980s, an interview by the 16 year old daughter of the Father of Movement for the Reunification of Kashmir: Maqbool Butt - caught hıs eye - in which she cried for help in a plea to save her father whose hanging by India was nigh. Raja launched a political and diplomatic campaign to save the Kashmırı hero.  As he was well-known in political circles in Europe, he was ınvıted to a meetıng ın London, where the issue of the prospective hangıng of Maqbool Butt had been dıscussed. Quayyum Raja, who had joined Maqbool Butt’s political party: the Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Front (JKNLF) a few months earlier, had been ınvıted to the meeting. He urged an intensification of the political and diplomatic efforts to save Maqbool Butt. However, a few days later, some young British Kashmiris captured an Indian diplomat in England and demanded the release of Maqbool Butt. The Indian Government promptly hanged Maqbool Butt and the Indıan diplomat was killed in revenge by his captors. As the killers escaped to Pakistan, Quayyum Raja who had been previously asked by the British Police and pressurized to co-operate. He refused. He condemned both the hanging of Maqbool Butt and the killing of the Indian diplomat. The situation deteriorated further when the Pakistani government told it's British counterpart that it would not hand over the escaped Kashmiris unless the British handed over the former Governor of the Punjab, who had escaped to London following a military coup.

As a result, Quayyum Raja and his friend Rıaz were charged with murder but sentenced secretly in 1985. Ten years later, the London High Court ruled that the secret sentence was unlawful. The documents also revealed a secret plan between the Indian and the British governments to keep Raja and Riaz in prison for the rest of their lives. They took the British government to the European Court of Human Rights. Consequently, Riaz was released after 19 years but Raja was kept in detention until the European Court ordered his release in 2005. By then, Raja had served 22 long painful years in prison. Raja, who was denied the right to stand for election from British jail, fielded a candidate on his behalf, who wrested away a seat held by the then British ruling Labour party for 35 years.

Quayyum Raja, received a hero's welcome in Kashmir, but almost half of his family members had already passed away, including his mother and eldest brother. He married a teacher after his release and has three daughters and one son whose ages range between 1-7 years.  Raja found Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) or Pakistani-administered Kashmir as a most comatose and powerless system. Terming the education system as vandalism, he took the AJK government to court for not including their national history in the national curriculum. Raja won the case. He was offered political adjustment but he refused to accept it at the expense of his dream for the re-unıfıcatıon of Kashmır. That implies the re-unification of hundreds of thousands of forcibly divided families. As a result, hıs personal life became much harder than ever before. He is currently chairman of the Diplomatic and Political Committee of Jammu Kashmir National Liberation Conference, whose president Arıf Shahid was assassinated on 13.05.2013.

Finally, in living memory Raja is perhaps second only to Nelson Mandela in terms of enduring the longest political sentence for a national cause.


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