They say ‘remembrance is resistance’. This is the first line that must have ringed through the conscientious minds of Jammu and Kashmir when media broke the news Shabir Salaria’s demise on Thursday evening.
Salaria was one of the last survivors who witnessed the bloodshed in 1947 in Jammu when hundreds of thousands of Muslims were killed in communal riots. He was 13-year-old that time studying in Class 7 in Akbar Islamia School which was also attacked and destroyed in riots.
The bloodshed, which consumed his father, who was an officer in forestry department, forced him to flee Jammu and arrived in Srinagar. In an interview with Kashmir Life in 2012, he revealed that initially he was planning to migrate to Pakistan but he was asked by Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad to move to Kashmir if his family had any relative for accommodation.
Once in Kashmir Shabir joined his elder brother who lived in Shivpora neighbourhood. He had spent part of his childhood in Baramulla too where his father was posted. So Kashmir was not an altogether alien place for him. Shabir enrolled himself in Amar Singh College to continue his studies. After finishing B A from Amar Singh College, he was appointed as Naib-Tehsildar. After 18 months, raising money for his fee, he quit his job and went to Aligarh Muslim University for LLB.
After finishing his degree in law, he came back to Srinagar in 1957 and started practicing law. He remained in the city for five years and then moved to the frontier district of Rajouri in Pirpanjal due to dearth of lawyers in the district. In the meanwhile he married a post graduate girl who was daughter of Qazi Nizam ud Din, a session judge.
Then in 1965, the outbreak of Indo-Pak war compelled him to flee the place and he went to Jammu. Then on the request of the people of Rajouri he again went there to practice law after the war was over.
His reputation among locals in Rajouri and for sake of his association with the district, Salaria contested parliamentary election as an independent candidate and was declared runner up.
Shabir Ahmad Salaria, a former Rajya Sabha member, who was a rare witness to the 1947 Jammu massacre, breathed his last on Thursday July 20, in his home town of Jammu.
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His journey with electoral politics started when he was in Srinagar where he joined National Conference. But once in Rajouri, “due to lack of NC’s footing”, he sidelined himself. However, in Jammu, he once again joined the same party and was associated with it till his last breath. He has also served as advocate general of the state twice and had a keen eye on legislative matters.
He was very close to Farooq Abdullah during his time as Chief Minister. In 2012 he told Kashmir Life candidly, “my party does not need me now but my loyalties are still with National Conference.”