Shahmali Begum: Mother of Maqbool Bhat

JK Bank
Shahmali Begum : Mother of Maqbool Bhat.
Shahmali Begum : Mother of Maqbool Butt. From the series- “Revolution: Still in Labour Pain.” Acrylics on Canvas 30″ x 24″

Using portrait as a medium I am trying to re-discover mothers who gave birth to revolutionaries. Women – less celebrated, less remembered – who have been the backbone of movements that uphold human values and reject unjust occupations. We celebrate the heroes and celebrate their death as a symbol of our victory and continuation of a fight for truth, but we fail to celebrate the decay of these Mothers.

What better place to start other than home – Kashmir. The first in series is the portrait of Shahmali Begum, Mother of Shaheed Maqbool Bhat (who was executed in Tihar Jail, New Delhi on February 11, 1984). Two of her other sons were killed by Indian forces, another ‘disappeared’ and a fourth remains in an Indian prison.


I wanted to achieve an expression of ‘decay.’ An emotion between a smile and on the verge of wailing. A stare that we do not want to stare back at, somewhat horrifying – probably because it invokes guilt. A portrait of someone familiar, someone forgotten – Pity? or Glorified with the golden lining and dress? Something that feels complete, yet incomplete.

(Inspired by the works of Gary Hume, Lucian Freud, and Gustav Klimt. Based on a Photograph by Showkat Shafi – Al Jazeera)



  1. oh great article..anticipating more blood shed and more mothers loosing their son .. what the fuck do u mean by “illegal occupation” if u claim it as illegal then it doesnt have to be . bloody authors like u are responsible for the deaths of thousand youths say jawans of so called “jihadists”. When a so called jihadists dies he thinks as if he is graced by death but actually he is dying for nothing for no bullshit. let me conclude with a conclusion “go to hell”

    • Dear Sid,
      Its very unfortunate that even though you know how to read and write but you still have not acquired the knowledge of understanding words, but then its not just your fault. You know nothing about Kashmir and have no understanding of “jehadi”. No where in any article published on “The Kashmir Walla” does anyone support to kill any human but then you have captivated your though and ideology which revolve around your perception that the “So called indian Jawan which ruthlessly murder and rape YOUR sisters and mothers in Kashmir” are fighting for their country. I know it will take you some time to understand the political situation of Kashmir but at least have some respect for those who actually dare and bring you the reality of what is happening in Kashmir.