ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Remembering Shahid Azmi

Advocate Shahid Azmi, whose work centred on seeking to redress the injustices suffered by Muslim youth who were falsely implicated in criminal cases, was shot dead on 11 February in his Kurla office in Mumbai. He knew that he was targeted and tried to take precautions, but he would not bring himself to turn his back on the people who frequented his office, seeking justice. Having been through acute suffering himself, Azmi empathised with others' suffering at a fundamental human level. It would have been impossible for him to live with himself had he given up this work.

Shahid was in love with the idea of justice. Fighting against injustice was the driving force of his life. This is what cost him his life. Had he looked the other way and treated the testimonials of state oppression, structural violence and systemic injustices as “cases” and not as his crusade for justice, he would have been alive today. The tragedy of Shahid’s death is the tragic loss of possibilities of a life that will now never be. His was a brilliant, astute mind, a thirst for knowledge, and a kind, loving heart. He combined moral courage with legal acumen. His work was his politics and his life. This was unpalatable to those whom he opposed and fence sitters who would rather have a lawyer defend his practice by calling it his “profession” – his bread, butter and jam. Instead, it was his passion and he took his cases personally. This led to his being branded a “terrorist” lawyer, which label had a double entendre given his past. He never hid his past, as he believed that it was bound to catch up with him anyway. With infinite patience and humility, he sought to convince people that he was not a terrorist; he tried to explain his standpoint of justice to them. It was heart-wrenching to watch him try to win the approval of lesser mortals, and often fail. It was hard for him to realise that in this profession, where the main motive is money, most would not understand his moral quest. The approval of the legal fraternity was very important to him as of the larger community

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