Srinagar: Sheikh Tajamul Islam, a top editor based in Pakistan with close links to separatist groups in Kashmir, died at a hospital in capital Islamabad after a brief illness. He is the third key advocate of Kashmir’s separatism to have died this year so far.
A local of Srinagar’s Shaheed Gunj locality, Islam, 67, died days after the demise of Hurriyat stalwart Syed Ali Shah Geelani. The Hurriyat leader passed away at his residence in the Hyderpora area of Srinagar. Earlier, Geelani’s close aide Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai (80), died on May 5, 2021, while incarcerated in a jail in Udhampur.
Tajamul Islam’s death is being considered a significant loss to the region’s separatist movement. He held key positions in Pakistan, including at state broadcaster PTV and a top editorial position at Kashmir Media Service (KMS). The KMS has at times been accused of running “anti-India propaganda” by the security agencies.
“Several social media accounts including Kashmir Media Service running from Pakistan have been trying to spread fake news and videos to instigate miscreants to disturb situations,” the J&K police said last week in the wake of Geelani’s death.
“Tajamul Islam was a Law graduate from Kashmir University and edited the newspaper Azan for some time,” former law professor Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain said.
During Sheikh Abdullah’s regime in 1979, Tajamul Islam called for an “Islamic revolution” in Kashmir inspired by the Iranian Revolution when he was part of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talba – a student organisation affiliated with Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) between 1979 and 1984. The government responded by banning the outfit and forcing Tajamul Islam and his associates into exile in the 1980s. Jamaat-e-Islami also severed its ties with the group over differences, especially due to the group’s fixation with the Iranian Revolution.
Tajamul Islam spent several years underground in the valley and finally managed to migrate to Pakistan via Nepal.
Senior journalist Yusuf Jameel, who reported on Tajamul Islam in the early 1980s, said he was the “most active and powerful chief of IJT, Jammu and Kashmir.” In a Facebook post, Jameel said he reported that the authorities had learned about Islam’s plan to depart through an intelligence agency, but “they did not try to stop him.”
“Seemingly because they, after having failed to break his resolve or make him change his political ideology, wanted to get rid of him somehow. His decision to leave Kashmir forever was seen by some of those at the helm as a ‘God-given opportunity’,” Jameel wrote.