A huge crowd assembles for
the funeral of lawyer Shahid Azmi at Kurla on Friday
defense lawyer in 26/11 terror case shot dead:
Eminent Mumbai based lawyer Shahid Azmi who was defending one
of the co-accused of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks besides handling
Mumbai train ....Read Full
Thousands of mourners thronged the street to bid farewell to
the slain lawyer Shahid Azmi on Friday afternoon. Struck down by grief and
anger against the administration, the mourners sported black bands
on their arms even as they demanded to bring those involved in the
brutal killing to the book.
34-year old activist and Mumbai based
lawyer Shahid Azmi, who was
defending one of the co-accused in the 26/11 Mumbai
terror attacks, the accused in the Mumbai train blasts and other
terror related cases in which Muslim youths are arrested, was killed
by the unidentified gunmen in his office on February 11.
Shahid Azmi's funeral was scheduled
for 01:30 in the Friday afternoon. However, due to the large crowd and
charged atmosphere that was deep in grief, his funeral procession
began at 03:00 PM.
Looking at the huge crowd that
came to attend the funeral, the Namaz-e-Janaza was offered on
the road near Taximen's Colony in the Mumbai suburbs.
Namaz-e-Janaza - the farewell prayer part of the Muslim funeral
was earlier planned to be offered in the mosque near his house in
'From Prison to
Shahid Azmi's life has been marred
with tragedies and trauma since his childhood. He was only 15 when
he was charged under the now-defunct Terrorist and Disruptive
Activities Act (TADA). He was awarded a five-year sentence in 1999,
but was acquitted the same year by the Supreme Court.
The detention, however, failed to
undermine his spirit. From one jail to other during 1992-99, he continued his
studies while in custody. After completing first the SSC and later
HSC, Shahid graduated in law joining the distance learning course.
After being acquitted of all charges, he began practicing
as Defence Lawyer and didn't took long to get a recognition. The
case is waiting for a judgment.
Shahid was instrumental in getting Dr.
Abdul Mateen and others who were detained in Ghatkopar blast case
acquitted of all charges.
Before being killed on February 11, he
was defending the accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, 2006
arms haul case, 2006 Malegaon blast and other terror related cases
in which Muslim youths are detained.
He was of the view that states in the
country have no constitutional authority to have acts like
Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). He even filed a
petition in the Supreme Court on behalf of Jamiatul Ulema Hind
challenging the MCOCA against the accused in Mumbai train blasts,
2006 Malegaon blast and other similar cases.
Since Shahid Azmi was defending the
accused in crucial cases, the general perception is that
he should have been provided with security by the state.
"Shahid himself feared that
he would die unnatural death. However, since he was handling crucial
cases the state should have provided him with security", Shahid's
brother Arif Azmi said to the media after his funeral.
"My son has been punished for he was
serving the community", said his mother.
"He died a martyr", said Rashid Azmi, Shahid's other brother even as one of Shahid's friends nodded
"I would die a shaheed,
he used to tell me always", he said.
"Shahid Azmi was like a brother to me.
His death is a personal loss", said President of Jamiatul Ulema,
Mumbai Gulzar Azmi even as the neighbors termed Shahid's untimely death as irreparable damage.
"His death is a great loss, not only
for the Muslim community but also for everyone in our area. I don't
think we will ever have a person like Shahid again", said Shahid's
neighbor Dr. Afroz Shaikh.
"He was a successful lawyer and
morally very strong. I am in the area since years. But I have never
seen so many people coming to funerals", said Imam of Taximen's
Colony mosque Maulana Rizwanullah.
"Shahid was the first to offer his
services for the accused in the 2006 Malegaon blast and he was
always at the forefront to bring justice to the Muslim youths under
police detention", said Maulana Ab Hameed Azhari. He was speaking at
the condolence meeting called by Jamiatul Ulema in Malegaon.
"The efforts taken by Shahid Azmi to
legally challenge the unjust charges against the Muslim youths
can never be over and done. His death is untimely and a great loss",
said Malegaon MLA Mufti Mohd. Ismael.
While clear clues are still absent a
day after Shahid Azmi was shot dead at his Kurla office, some in the
legal fraternity and inner circle believe he was bumped off for
being ‘anti-establishment’ and ‘anti-police’.
Pegging his argument on the ‘motive’
behind the crime, senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan
alleged that the only people who could have had a motive in getting
rid of Azmi were the police.
“Shahid is the only lawyer who had the
maximum cases showing that the police were fabricating evidence,”
It is also suspected that Shahid Azmi
had been eliminated by the underworld dons.
Joint commissioner of police (crime),
Rakesh Maria, however, is noncommittal.
“We have received a few leads in the
case and the investigation is on the right track", he said and
refused to comment anything further on the case.
Meanwhile, community leaders belonging
to Jamiatul Ulema, Mumbai Peace Committee, Jamat-e-Islami, Jamiat
Ahl-e-Hadees, All India Ulema Board, Ulema Council, Milli Council
and Qaumi Majlis-e-Shura along with Muslim lawyers are organising a
meeting today afternoon at Islam Gymkhana in Mumbai. Besides
reviving the situation arising out of Shahid Azmi's death, the
meeting will also discuss ways to bring the culprits behind Shahid
Azmi's brutal murder to book.