Altaf Ahamd Shah death: Incarcerated Hurriyat leader Altaf Ahamd Shah dies at Delhi hospital, buried in Kashmir
Shah, 66, was lodged in Tihar jail of Delhi since 2017 and was shifted to AIIMS few days back only after the intervention of Delhi high court. Shah’s daughter, Ruwa Shah, confirmed about the death of his father in a tweet, saying, “Abu breathed his last at AIIMS, New Delhi. As a prisoner.” Shah is the third prominent Hurriyat leader, since 2019, who died in prison.
Earlier, Hurriyat leader Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai died in Jammu in May 2021, when he was shifted to a hospital from Udhampur prison and Ghulam Muhammad Bhat died in Naini prison in December 2019. Syed Ali Geelani, who was under house arrest since 2010, barring a few months, died in September 2021. Shah’s body was flown to his residence in Srinagar–after few hours of delay at AIIMS–on late Tuesday evening, where the last rites were performed. The authorities allowed only close relatives to attend the burial ceremony and mobile internet in parts of Srinagar was snapped for few hours as well.
Ruwa had raised alarm about the deteriorating health of her father on September 21, in a string of tweets informing that he was suffering from acute illnesses. Following this she made a fervent appeal to the Prime Minister and union home minister on September 30, for his bail stating that he has been diagnosed of acute renal cancer which has metastasis and has spread to his other body parts, including bones.
“…he is presently on oxygen support in the ICU of RML hospital – where there is no oncology department,” she had tweeted. His condition worsened from October 2, when as per Ruwa, his lungs were not functioning. “Delay in treatment is causing harm that is irreversible,” she had tweeted.
Shah alias Fantoosh, was a prominent behind the scene activist within Hurriyat since 1990’s and was among the early members to join Geelani’s Tehreek-i-Hurriyat in 2004. Shah was jailed several times in the past three decades. He was an advocate of engagement with all stakeholders of the Kashmir issue and hogged the limelight a few times for initiating a few such engagement processes.
Meanwhile, Indian Charge d’ Affairs in Islamabad was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan and conveyed government of Pakistan’s strong protest over the “inhuman custodial death of Altaf Ahmad Shah.” They also expressed concern and apprehensions regarding other Hurriyat leaders in jail including Masarat Alam, Shabir Shah, Yasin Malik, Nayeem Khan and Asiya Andrabi.
Political parties in Kashmir also expressed grief over his death stating that the political prisoners have been suffering in jails and their plight is heard by none.
“Due to lack of proper medical facilities the ailing prisoners’ lives are always at risk. We appealed to the government and rights organisations to ensure that better care is provided to the prisoners and adequate medical facilities,” read a statement of Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, who is under house arrest since August 4, 2019.
The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference spokesperson Ifra Jan also expressed solidarity with Shah’s family saying, “Political differences aside, no person should be denied medical treatment as a prisoner. Repeated Judgements from our courts have legally reinforced this basic human right. Yet, there is hardly any implementation on ground. Tragic,” Jan tweeted. Former minister and J&K People’s Conference chief Sajad Lone also expressed condolence and solidarity with Shah’s family.