Shamim A Shamim, Kashmir’s Editor, Orator, Politician

Shamim Ahmed Shamim was one of Kashmir’s prominent journalist editors who was later in politics and was elected to the state assembly and the parliament. He edited Aina newspaper that was known for his satire and critique of contemporary Kashmir and politics. This earned him more friends than foes.

With the guests of the then Prime Minister Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad in Srinagar, Shamim A Shamim, as the Cultural Officer of the Jammu and Kashmir government. Photo Courtesy: Qurrat Ul Ain

“Strange are the ways of politicians: only a few years ago the Sheikh and Shamim were thick as thieves. Today they are sworn enemies, ever since the Sheikh nominated his wife as a National Conference MP and Shamim joined the Janata Party,” Sunil Sethi wrote in The India Today in February 1979. “Shamim has since been assaulting the chief minister and his family on charges of gross corruption in vitriolic articles in his Urdu newspaper Aina published from Srinagar.”

Shamim A Shamim
speaking as the cultural officer of the then Information Department. Photo Courtesy: Qurrat Ul Ain

Shamim died of cancer on May 1, 1980, despite visiting the USA for his treatment. He was less than 45 of age when he died. His family and friends have been observing his death anniversary with some activity. His sister, Qurrat ul Ain, had recollected and posted most of Shamim’s writings and published in dozen-odd books. This year, however, owing to the Covid-19 situation no such function has taken place.

Shamim A Shamim’s victory in elections has a hugely positive response on the ground. Photo Courtesy: Qurrat Ul Ain

Kashmir Life is offering a few brief sketches about Shamim by veteran journalists, Mohammad Sayeed Malik (also his brother in law) and Yousuf Jameel. The photographs used in this copy belong to Qurrat ul Ain.

Yousuf Jameel

Veteran journalist JN Sathu had invited his editor at Deccan Herald who was on a visit of Srinagar for lunch at the Ahdoos. He requested Editor Aftab, Khawaja Sanaullah Bhat, to join them. Khawaja Sahib could not make it and sent me instead.

Shamim A Shamim’s funeral prayers on May 1, 1980 Photo Courtesy: Qurrat Ul Ain

In a side cabin of the restaurant, Shameem Ahmad Shameem and another journalist Bansi Lal Kak joined us also. Though I would read him regularly and admired him for his writing style and was, in fact, very much impressed by his masterpieces-one of these being (titled) Hypocrisy is the Best Policy, which had appeared in Sunday Magazine I, incidentally, joined as a staff correspondent later in 1983, I had seen Shameem Sahib, then a Member of Parliament, for first time in a theatre on Srinagar’s exhibition grounds. I was a student then. Shameem Sahib had brought his son Adam to watch a play there. They were being accompanied by a cop. Sadly, an incident, though minor in nature took place inside the theatre, left a somewhat unpleasant impression about Shameem Sahib among those present including me.

At the luncheon, it was Shameem Sahib who talked the most and talked well; revealing some of the best aspects of his talent and personality.

Shameem A Shameem with his wife, his daughters, and a family friend. Photo Courtesy: Qurrat Ul Ain

A few months later I was shaken by learning that Shameem Sahib is suffering from a deadly disease and has been flown to the United States for specialized treatment. After his return home, I would be repeatedly told by some family friends about how his spouse and sisters were taking great care of him and leaving no stone unturned in nursing him back to health. But all efforts to revive him were wasted.

Shamim A Shamim with his son Adam, and a little baby. Photo Courtesy: Qurrat Ul Ain
Yusuf Jameel

On May 1, 1980, when I was still at Aftab, Shameem Sahib breathed his last. While he was being given the last bath at 1 Residency Road, legendary Radio artist Somnath Sadhu who was standing next to me outside lamented “Jameela, jan’a marg ha gov”, not knowing he himself will die soon at a young age. Shameem Sahib’s Namaz-e-Janaza was offered at nearby Pratap Park and then many of us proceeded to the family cemetery in the Syed Mansoor Sahib shrine area at Zaldagar to say a final goodbye to the great orator and eloquent writer.

Post Script: His political ideology apart! Also, we humans have weaknesses and none of us is perfect.

Mohammad Sayeed Malik

Destiny had tied the two close, stalwart friends to a common emotional chord: 92nd birth anniversary of Ved Bhasin, today, on May 1, coincides with the 41st death anniversary of Shamim Ahmed Shamim.

Shamim A Shamim with his friend, Ved Bhasin in a Radio Programme in Srinagar. Photo Courtesy: Qurrat Ul Ain

They also share several strands of their public life, apart from the above coincidence. They remained life-long family friends with deep mutual respect for each other.

The two legends, who blazed a bright trail of their respective eminence have left behind an undiminished streak of brilliance across our literary, political and sociocultural horizon.

A February 1972 photograph clicked the Palam Airport showing Bangladesh leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, on his way from London to (just) liberated Bangladesh capital Dacca. Released from Rawalpindi jail and flown to London, Sheikh stopped at Delhi where Mrs Indira Gandhi welcomed him. The only non-official in the picture is Shamim Ahmed Shamim, then an MP.

Their exemplary courage of conviction defined their persona.

All through their lives, Ved Ji and Shamim Saheb relentlessly fought for their shared belief in social justice, human dignity and secular ideology.

Their lifelong crusade against narrow mindedness is studded with sacrifices.

Shamim A Shamim addressing a cultural delegation. Photo Courtesy: Qurrat Ul Ain

Both are known for having readily paid the price for upholding their conviction. And, today when we remember them, that commitment stands out as a shining strand of their legacy

While The Kashmir Times came to be seen as the public face of Ved Ji’s towering personality, weekly Aaina reflected Shamim Saheb’s outstanding intellectual calibre and courageous politico-ideological profile

Mohammad Sayeed Malik

In a way, the two publications also came to be recognised as the respective public faces of their owner-editors. Courage and commitment defined both. That also explains the enviable popularity which The Kashmir Times and weekly Aaina earned and retained all through the lifetime of their founders.

After Shamim Saheb’s demise on May 1, 1980, Ved Ji skipped his own annual birthday celebrations with his family at Jammu to participate in a series of annual book release functions held in Srinagar the same day, to commemorate his departed friend. It continued without a break until Ved Ji himself called it a day on November 5, 2015.

Shamim A Shamim with his uncle, Ayub Sabir, in Pakistan. Photo Courtesy: Qurrat Ul Ain

Both will be remembered for long as two outstanding public intellectuals, fearless journalists and persons of commitment to their cause. Both were eminently qualified and gifted with extraordinary intellect. They shared a broad humanitarian outlook on life.

Shameem, A Pioneer Of Electoral Politics

Qurrat ul Ain

Quite often each had to contend with the wrath of powerful persons in authority, in pursuit of their crusade for upholding freedom of expression and to fight against the exploitation of the weak. The content of their heritage is rich enough to fire the imagination of generations.

Ved Ji and Shamim Saheb have left behind a treasure of their writings that are as fresh and relevant today as when these were written across generations. That is because both were visionaries who could visualize a combat taking shape between forces of inclusiveness and those of divisiveness.

We miss you, Ved Ji and Shamim Saheb, and miss your inspiring exhortations

Rest In Peace

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