Muhammad Lateef Qureshi  – III

Muhammad Lateef Qureshi also played a vital role during the trial of the Kashmir Conspiracy Case, camping in Kud and Jammu for four years at great cost to his own career, finances and family. When he returned to Srinagar four years later after the case was withdrawn, he had to start from scratch.

According to Ghulam Nabi Gauhar, Qureshi suffered more than the accused – Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg:

“They lived rather luxurious lives in jail and had all amenities, whereas we were the real prisoners, and had to live from hand to mouth.”

Averse to the 1947 arrangement, he showed it by joining the Political Conference when Mohi-ud-Din Karra launched it on June 19, 1953 to seek Jammu and Kashmir’s total merger with Pakistan. His colleague, Raghunath Vaishnavi, also joined the new party and was jailed, as were its other members and leaders.

Qureshi was sent to the Udhampur Jail, but was released after four months on a writ petition filed in the High Court.

The stay in prison changed him for good: he confined himself to his profession and kept away from politics. Though he remained on the government scanner for quite some time, he did not give authorities any excuse to curtail his freedom.

Having dominated the legal profession in Kashmir for nearly half-a-century, Qureshi passed away on February 12, 2006 at the age of ninety-one, and continues to remain a source of inspiration for the scores of young lawyers he trained during his long and eventful career.