History is quite an interesting and intense subject, which sometimes unfurl many uncomfortable facts when scratched. Today, we will tell you a painful story of Indian Diplomat Rabindra Mhatre, who indeed lost his life for our nation, but alas, not many of us are even aware of his sacrifice.
The story starts in 1984 when the Indian Armed forces arrested Maqbool Bhatt, the co-founder of the Islamist terror outfit Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), which is the same organization that was later led by Yasin Malik. Maqbool Bhatt was languishing in prison and awaiting his death penalty. Bhatt was arrested while trying to cross the LoC (Line of Control) on June 10, 1966, from Pakistan, occupied Kashmir (PoK), resulted in the death of an Indian CID officer named Amar Chand.
Pakistan wanted to create pressure on India so that he could be released. However, the then Indian GOvernment, which was led by Smt. Indira Gandhi refused any such possibility. In order to coerce the Indian government to release Maqbool Bhatt, the Pakistani spy agency ISI roped in the Kashmir Liberation Army (KLA). This terror outfit abducted a 48-year-old Indian diplomat Ravindra Hareshwar Mhatre in UK on February 3, 1984.
Ravindra was a second-ranking officer in the Indian Consular office and his kidnap caused a huge panic among the Indian diplomatic and political circle. Kashmir Liberation Army sent a hand-written message to the Reuters office in London and informed that they have kidnapped an Indian diplomat and threatened to kill him if the Indian Government doesn’t release Maqbool Bhatt and a few other terrorists immediately.
Here it is important to note that terrorists Maqbool Bhatt, Ashraf Qureshi and Hashim Qureshi were involved in the hijacking of Indian Airlines aircraft (1971). KLA also shared a list of 7 more terrorists who were responsible for voilence in Srinagar during a cricket match against the West Indies. They also demanded a ransom of 1 million pounds. Meanwhile, the Reuters office contacted the Scotland Yard and informed them about the development. The terror outfit rang up another Kashmiri separatist named Zubair Ansari, who was asked to negotiate on their behalf.
There was a sense of confusion initially, as terrorists did not provide any name or address of the Indian diplomat they had kidnapped. Indian Government was not ready to negotiate and that worsen the situation.
KLA terrorist sent a threatening message that “It looks as if you people have not taken it seriously, now you will have to face the consequences”. These were not hollow threats because, on the following day, the dead body of Ravindra Hareshwar Mhatre was found at a farm in Hinckley in Leicestershire. The Indian diplomat was shot twice, once in the head and once in the body.
Few eyewitnesses stated that Mhatre was gheraoed by 3 people and shoved into a red car near the bus stop at Bartley Green in Birmingham, and since then nobody saw him alive.
When this unfortunate news reached India, the Indira Gandhi government decided to hang Maqbool Bhatt immediately. Indira Gandhi’s government sent an official to Kolkata to obtain the President’s rejection for Maqbool Bhatt’s mercy petition. On February 11, Maqbool Bhatt was hanged to death at the Tihar jail.
Why Mhatre was targeted?
Mhatre was not a senior official, still, he was an ideal target for the terrorist group. As Mhatre was a junior diplomat, he was not entitled to have personal police protection. As a man of fastidious habits, his movements were very much predictable and easy to track, that’s why he was chosen.
The apathy here is that people still know Maqbool Bhatt and celebrate his so called heroics, but we don’t remember Ravindra Mhatre, who sacrificed his life, for our nation on foreign land.