Shahid Batalvi Speaks

with apology to Black Elk for he speaks first

Ijaz Batalvi’s web site

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Salman has done a fabulous job in putting together this web site that covers the various aspects of Ijaz Batalvi’s life, professional career, literary works, personal letters, photographs, etc. This is still a work in progress and additional information will be added in due time.

One of the area of detail that I personally want to update and elaborate on the web site is the list of renowned and famous cases that he represented on behalf of his clients. One of these, that is currently missing from the list,, is the Ganga Plane Hijacking Case.

This is the incident that occurred on January 31st, 1971 when the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane by two Kashmiri young men, Hashim and Ashraf Qureshi who were also cousins, finally resulted in the emptied plane being blown up on the tarmac at Lahore Airport.

Ijaz Batalvi defended Hashim and Ashraf Qureshi and four others in the trial that ensued in a Special Court in West Pakistan. In the end all but Hashim Qureshi were cleared of all charges. Hashim Qureshi was sentenced to fourteen years imprisonment. The right to appeal the verdict of the Special Court was denied for several years. Eventually, the right to appeal was restored and Hashim Qureshi was also acquitted in this case. Hashim Qureshi is now Chairman of JKDLP in Kashmir.

This incident of the Ganga Plane Hijacking will also go down in the history of Pakistan as one that is rife with conspiracy theories. Was the incident planned and executed on the orders of the Indian Intelligence Agencies? Was Hashim trained by Maqbool Butt or also by the RAW and acted as a double? Was the plane blown up on the insistence and support of the ISI?

What does matter is that this incident and its subsequent investigation and trial were used to further deteriorate an already challenged India-Pakistan and East-West Pakistan relationship and eventually led to the 1971 India-Pakistan War and its consequences.

I was very young when all this occurred but remember conversations and glimpses of events unfolding during that time. I have gone back and recollected some memories and read through some material. What has impressed me the most is the life and death of Maqbool Butt. He was put on trial by both India and Pakistan through the 60s, 70s and 80s as an Enemy of the State repeatedly under various Enemy Acts of the Indian and Pakistani Penal Code. Maqbool Butt was eventually hanged by the Indian Establishment on February 11, 1984 in Tihar Jail, New Delhi where he is buried in the jail yard.

I see some similarity here with the life and death of Lt. Col. Harry S. Morant of the Bushveldt Carbineers that were part of the South Australian Mounted Rifles fighting with the British colonial forces against the Dutch Boer settlers in the Second Boer War in South Africa. He was made famous after the movie "Breaker Morant" was released in 1981.

An incident and a subsequent trial is used to achieve political gain in a bigger chess game. Humans are mere expendable pawns. "Well Handcock, this is what comes of empire building."


Written by Shahid Batalvi

May 11, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Posted in Humanity

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