Muhammad Raza Malik
September 05, 2021 happened to be a gloomy and sad day for the Kashmir freedom movement and the journalist fraternity of Pakistan. On the fateful day, the champion and master brain of the ongoing Kashmir freedom movement, noted journalist, intellectual and Executive Director of Kashmir Media Service, Shaikh Tajammul-ul-Islam passed away at a hospital in Islamabad after fighting against coronavirus for over one month. The deadly virus severely damaged his lungs that ultimately led to his demise.
Shaikh Tajammul-ul-Islam was born in Srinagar in 1954. He did his LLB from Kashmir University, Srinagar, in 1975 and M.A Urdu from the same institution in 1980. During his student life, he remained the Nazim-e-Aala (president) of Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba in IIOJK from 1979 to 1984. He worked as Chief Editor of Daily Azaan and Editor of several newspapers, weekly and fortnightly magazines in IIOJK from 1973 to 1980 and contributed a lot to the Kashmir movement during this period. He also practiced law in Srinagar from 1975-1984. He remained an advocate of Kashmiris’ right to self-determination over his decades’ long career.
Shaikh Tajammul-ul-Islam was a freedom-fighter by birth. He actively and practically opposed India’s illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir which invited the Indian wrath. Even he was arrested several times from 1974 to 1984. The victimisation by Indian forces for his pro-freedom and anti-India stance and activities forced him to migrate to Pakistan.
The Fall of Dhaka in 1971 sent shock waves among the Kashmiri Muslims and they felt desperate as following the incident, India had launched a malicious propaganda against Pakistan claiming that the country is no more capable of supporting the Kashmiris’ freedom struggle. Later, the sighing of Indira-Abdullah Accord in 1975 had further demoralised the Kashmiri people. At this critical time, Shaikh Tajammul-ul-Islam played an important role in boosting the morale of the Kashmiris. He planned an international conference on Kashmir in 1982. Although, India disallowed the conference, yet the preparations for the event rejuvenated the Kashmiri people, particularly the youth, to carry forward their struggle for right to self-determination, at all costs. Now, New Delhi made it difficult for him to continue his stay in IIOJK leading to his migration to Nepal. During his stay in Nepal, he founded Islamic Savak Sangh and managed scholarships for deserving Muslim students from the platform of this organisation. It has now become the largest Muslim organisation of the Nepali Muslims. He also served as Coordinator of Muslim Student Organisation in South Asia under International Islamic Federation of Student Organisations (IIFSO) during his stay in Kathmandu.
Shaikh Tajammul-ul-Islam later migrated to Pakistan. Here, he headed the Institute of Kashmir Affairs from 1992 to 2000. He worked with News Section of Pakistan Television (PTV) from 1998 to 1999 and joined Kashmir Media Service as Executive Director in 1999 and remained associated with it till his last breath. He was also Chief Editor of Kashmir Insight magazine.
The veteran journalist wrote articles and analyses in English and Urdu on Kashmir. He attended several conferences and seminars on Kashmir in Pakistan and abroad including Nepal, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Singapore, Maldives, Iran, Saudi Arabia, UK, Canada and many European countries, and delivered speeches highlighting various aspects of the Kashmir dispute and the Indian atrocities on the people of IIOJK. It was due to his efforts and leadership that Kashmir Media Service has become a strong and authentic voice for the oppressed Kashmiris. He always supported a solution to the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the Kashmiris’ aspirations and the relevant United Nations resolutions. He was highly respected in journalistic circles for his integrity and intellectual acumen.
Besides being a highly professional journalist, Shaikh Tajammul-ul-Islam was a noble soul and a kind-hearted person. His sad demise is a colossal loss for the Kashmir movement, journalist fraternity and above all for the Kashmir Media Service. His services for the Kashmir cause will always be remembered in the history of Jammu and Kashmir. In his death, the KMS staff members have lost a great team leader, teacher and mentor. Although, he has moved from one better place to another much better place, but he will always remain alive for his contribution in the Kashmiris’ ongoing freedom struggle.
(The author is Senior Editor at Kashmir Media Service and has worked for over a decade under the supervision and guidance of Shaikh Tajammul-ul-Islam)