When Mir Ghulam Rasool Nazki was advised to undergo surgery for colon cancer in 1997 he refused to get it done under anaesthesia.
“I have waited for death for 88 years,” Mir Nazki told the doctor. “I don’t want to be unconscious and miss the thrill of it.” The doctor refused. Mir Nazki (89) — one of Kashmir’s prominent literary figures —died a year later.
But he seems to have passed on his wit and fearlessness to his son, Bombay High Court judge, Justice Bilal Nazki. Delivering justice from Kashmir to Mumbai, Justice Nazki has earned admirers for not mincing words.
“He would never come under pressure or be influenced by anybody,” said colleague and friend, Ishaq Qadri, advocate general of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
One of eight siblings, Justice Nazki was born on November 18, 1947, in Srinagar. The family, originally from remote Bandipora in North Kashmir, moved to Srinagar in 1947.
The 61-year-old judge grew up in a family of poets and writers. Father Mir Nazki was a renowned poet who wrote fluently in Urdu, Kashmiri, Persian and Arabic.
Mir Nazki’s works include Deeda-i-Tar (1948), the first book by any Kashmiri writer after independence, and Awaz-e-dost, Kashmiri poetry that won him the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1987.
Mir Nazki was also the state’s pioneer broadcaster. He joined Radio Kashmir in 1948 when it was established. “He was a one-man institution,” said Naeem Akhtar, Mir Nazki’s grandson and Justice Nazki’s nephew. “His home in Srinagar was a school not only for his sons and daughters but also for students from the extended family.”
Naeem (57), the son of Mir Nazki’s daughter, is the spokesperson of Jammu and Kashmir’s main Opposition People’s Democratic Party.
Naeem grew up with Justice Nazki and remembers the latter as someone with a “very sharp mind” and individuality.
Justice Nazki graduated in law from the Aligarh Muslim University in 1973. He became the Deputy Advocate General of Jammu and Kashmir in 1986 and later also served as the advocate general. He was appointed the additional judge of the J&K High Court in January 1995. He even served in the Andhra Pradesh High Court.
He moved to the Bombay High Court in January 2008. Justice Nazki is remembered in his home state for his role in unravelling the mystery behind the murder of human rights’ activist Jalil Andrabi in 1996. Andrabi’s killer was identified as Major Avtar Singh of the 35 Rashtriya Rifles.