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Shabir Shah Varrier
Shabir Shah Varrier
|Born||14 June 1953 (age 66)|
|Occupation||Kashmiri Separatist leader|
Shabir Ahmad Shah , popularly known as Shabir Shah, (born 14 June 1953), in Shahabad dooru, Kadipora, Anantnag, Kashmir is the founder and president of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP), one of the main separatist political organizations seeking "right of self-determination" to Jammu and Kashmir. Having spent 31 years of his life in jails, he is known as the “Jail Bird”, “Nelson Mandela of Kashmir” and recognised by Amnesty International as “The Prisoner of Conscience.”
Birth and childhood
Born in a business family of South Kashmir’s Kadipora town in district Anantnag on 14 June 1953. Shabir Ahmad Shah Varrier did his early schooling at Government Middle School, Sarnal, Anantnag and passed a higher secondary examination from M.I. Higher Secondary School, Anantnag but could not continue his studies due to affiliation with various students’ leagues for which was jailed at very early age.
Men’s League to People’s League
Shah’s political career began in 1968 when at the age of 14, he led a demonstration against the Indian government in Kashmir following which he was arrested and was kept in police lockup for three months. Soon Shabir Shah and his colleagues formed the Young Men’s League. He along with the league activists were arrested time and again which affected Shah’s education.
During his confinement in Central Jail Srinagar, Shah met several resistance leaders including Nazir Ahmad Wani (Al-Fateh), Abdul Majid Pathan (Youth League), Altaf Khan alias Azam Inquilabi (Students Islamic Organization) and other leaders like Ghulam Qadir Hagroo with whom he discussed future plans for fighting for the right to self-determination. While Shabir Shah was still in jail, his associates Nazir Ahmad Wani, S. Hamid, Fazal Haq Qureshi, Abdul Majid Pathan and others formed the Jammu and Kashmir People’s League on 3 October 1974, with Nazir Ahmad Wani as its Chairman and Abdul Majid its General Secretary. This newly formed organization tool strong exception to the Indra-Abdullah Accord (1975) and organized rallies throughout the State. Formation of Jammu Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party
Shabir Shah was jailed for the first time in 1968, when he was aged 14, for organizing and leading a student demonstration to press the demand for what he claimed as the "right of self-determination" for the people of Kashmir. He was arrested and jailed for 3 months and 15 days in Srinagar’s Central Jail, thus began his jail journey and has been in and out of jail and under house arrest ever since. Immediately after his release, he resumed his political activities by forming Young Men’s League along with his colleagues for which he was arrested at Anantnag and was detained for 8 months in Srinagar’s Central Jail. After he was released, he was arrested again in 1971 on the allegation of being a core pro-Pakistan activist and was detained without in the district police lines at Anantnag for 7 months.
In 1972, Shah organized demonstrations against Hindus in Jammu and was arrested under Defence of Indian Rules Act (DIR) and detained in Central Jail, Srinagar for eleven months. During this period, the political scenario of sub-continent was going through a new metamorphosis as Pakistan had split into two and a new state, Bangladesh had emerged. After his release, Shah addressed a rally at Anantnag, demanding freedom for Kashmiri people and denounced all decisions and agreements like the Shimla Agreement. As a result of it, he was arrested again in May 1973, just five months after his release and subsequently shifted to the Srinagar’s Central Jail where he was detained for another 9 months.
In 1975, Shabir Shah denounced the "Indira-Abdullah Accord" signed by the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. He was arrested and tortured in the most notorious interrogation centres like Red-Sixteen and Bagh-i-Mehtab in Srinagar for 4 months and subsequently confined in Central Jail, Srinagar for another 30 months. After his release in 1978, Shah immediately began his underground political activities.
In 1980, Shah was re-arrested. He was kept in the sub-jail Kathua and later moved to Central Jail in Srinagar where he was kept for twelve months. He was released towards the end of 1981 but in early 1982 when the People’s League launched the Quit Kashmir Movement, he was re-arrested. There were massive demonstrations against his arrest. Life in the valley came to standstill for 5 days. Shah was later released. However, he was re-arrested from the Kailash Hotel and kept in the Kothi Bagh interrogation centre for three and a half months and was kept for another twelve months in Srinagar’s Central Jail. Then he was released in 1983. During an international cricket match in Srinagar on October 1983, Shabir Shah led protests against the government and was arrested again in 1984.
When Shah was released in 1986, his health was deteriorated and within hours of his release, he addressed a press conference and demanded that Kashmiri people be given what he calls the "right of self-determination". He was re-arrested within 10 days of his release on 12 July 1986 and tortured at Red-16 for 2 months. On 8 September 1986, Shah was presented before the State Advisory Board of the J&K High Court who ordered his release. He was, however, immediately re-arrested on other charges and kept in prison till 26 April 1988. Between April 1988 and August 1989, Shabir Shah remained underground. He was arrested on 29 August 1989 and was released on 14 October 1994. Since then he has been in and out of various jails and has been put under house arrest most of the time. His political movements have also been restricted to very much extent since then until he was detained under PSA on 20 August 2008 after taking part in "Muzaffarabad Chalo" March during the land agitation. After his detention grounds were quashed by the High Court, the government again slapped PSA against him on 8 December 2008, which was later revoked by the Court. He was released on 22 May 2009 but was re-arrested on 8 June with a fresh PSA slapped against him. The Court quashed his third PSA on 4 August 2009 but he was not released and instead booked again under PSA.
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- Owen Dixon