Ghulam Muhammad Bulla was arrested on February 11, 1975, and killed in custody on February 15. People observed a total strike on February 28 in response to a call by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, to protest a political accord between Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.
Much has been said and written about the Indira-Abdullah Accord, but Ghulam Muhammad Bulla has remained unsung in the accounts of the events that followed. This, in brief, is his story:
Late in the evening on February 15, 1975, a police van came to a screeching halt in Sopore’s Nau Hammam area. The family was called out, only to see one of its beloved members lying dead in the van. Grief-stricken relatives were silenced with rifle butts. The body was finally carried to a graveyard near the local degree college and laid to rest by eleven persons in a grave dug by the police.
It was the body of Ghulam Muhammad Bulla who had been tortured to death in police custody. It was wrapped in a shroud and had been washed in the Central Jail in Srinagar where Bulla had been lodged for a couple of days after his arrest.
When the family sought permission to bury Bulla in its ancestral graveyard, the police silenced them with rifle butts. Nau Hammam residents protested, but authorities imposed curfew, preventing them from coming out.
Days before the signing of this Accord, many people had registered protest against the `sell out.’ Ghulam Muhammad Bulla, who had associations with political activists like Fazal Haque Qureshi, Nazir Ahmad Wani, Farooq Rehmani, Musadiq Adil and others, also came out to give vent to his feelings. After registering protest, Bulla hoisted a Pakistani flag in Sopore Chowk on February 11. He was taken into custody and tortured severely for some hours in the local police station. Later, the same day, he was shifted to the Srinagar Central Jail. Bulla’s torment did not end there as well. Incessant torture proved fatal, and he finally succumbed on February 15.