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Azmi: Outlaw-turned lawyer

From the slums of Govandi to a flat in Ram Manohar Lohiya Nagar near Bandra-Kurla Complex, Shahid Azmi (32) had come a long way, reports Urvi Mahjani.

mumbai Updated: Feb 12, 2010 01:47 IST
Urvi Mahajani

From the slums of Govandi to a flat in Ram Manohar Lohiya Nagar near Bandra-Kurla Complex, Shahid Azmi (32) had come a long way.

Azmi, who lost his father when he was six, completed his matriculation in 1992. He paid for his education by working at a zari workshop.

He had witnessed the alleged atrocities on his community during the 1993 Mumbai riots.

This forced him to quit studies and he decided to rebel against the system. He went to Kashmir and allegedly received arms training. He was also alleged to have shown solidarity with the separatist movement in Jammu and Kashmir and attempted a violent resistance against the system.

He was arrested for his acts and was sentenced to five years under the Terrorist and Destructive Activities (Prevention) Act.

He was lodged in Tihar jail. He was released on July 7, 1999.

During his years in jail Azmi met two persons who, he later said, changed the course of his life – Dr Dineshchandra Saxena and Ghulam Nabi War. Saxena was arrested for contempt of the Supreme Court and War was in jail for being a founder member of the Kashmiri terrorist outfit, Hizbul Mujahideen.

A lawyer must be people’s lawyer, is what Saxena used to tell Azmi and that is something Azmi remembered and followed religiously. In jail, Azmi completed his graduation and acquired a diploma in creative writing and a post-graduate diploma in journalism and mass communications.

After his release he decided to acquire a degree in law.

He was an avid reader and writer. He wrote extensively on legal issues and contemporary politics for various publications. He had also worked as a sub-editor with the news portal www.indya.com