Born in 1930 into a chakdar-karkhanadar family of Sarnal, Islamabad (Anantnag), Ghulam Nabi Hagroo passed his matriculation in 1950 from the Hanafia School in his home town, and graduated from the SP College in Srinagar.
After returning with a law degree from the Aligarh Muslim University in 1960, he was appointed Social Education Officer in the Rural Development Department where he also edited its magazine, Dehat Sudhar. But in 1963, he resigned from service on political grounds, and joined the local bar. In 1979, he moved to Srinagar, settling in Aloocha Bagh, and soon emerged as a prominent lawyer at the High Court.
Born with an inclination to politics, Hagroo had participated in the Quit Kashmir Movement launched during his school days, and would be seen pasting posters on walls and electric poles in his area.
In 1964, he joined the Plebiscite Front.
During a conversation a few months before his death, Hagroo said:
“One day, when I was busy with my professional work at the Islamabad Bar, Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg arrived in a jeep and took me to the Plebiscite Front headquarters at the Mujahid Manzil. There I met Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah who directed me to edit the Mahaaz, the Front’s official organ.”
The Mahaaz was banned in 1965, and Hagroo arrested and lodged in Jammu Central Jail for a year.
Released after the Tashkent Agreement, he was arrested again after some time and sent to the Srinagar Central Jail for another eight months. This was followed by another stint behind bars, this time in solitary confinement for six months, until finally freed by the High Court in 1968.
He had also worked as the acting president of the Plebiscite Front when almost all its senior leaders were in jail.
Having dedicated his life to the cause of Kashmir’s self-determination, Hagroo would always stand up for truth, and uphold values, whatever the circumstances.
Unlike some of his colleagues, he did not change his stand after the Indira-Abdullah Accord of 1975 and the resulting decline of the plebiscite movement.
-to be continued