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Thousands bid farewell to Shahid Azmi

Saturday, February 13, 2010 03:39:47 PM, & Agencies

A huge crowd assembles for the funeral of lawyer Shahid Azmi at Kurla on Friday

(Photo: Rajendra Gawankar/HT)

Shahid Azmi, 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

Mumbai/Malegaon: 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 Kurla.


'From Prison to Court'

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.


'Shahid, died Shaheed'

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 in agreement.


"I would die a shaheed, he used to tell me always", he said.


'Community leaders, friends condole'

"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.


'Malegaon mourns'

"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.


'The Masterminds?'

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,” Bhushan said.


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.







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