Ex-diplomat & former MP Syed Shahabuddin dead

Noida, March 4 (IANS) Former Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer and MP Syed Shahabuddin, who was suffering from prolonged illness, died at a hospital in this UP city, adjoining the national capital, on Saturday morning. He was 82.

“Shahabuddin, former President of All India Muslim Majlise Mushawarat left for heavenly abode this morning at 6.22 a.m.,” said close associate Navaid Hamid, who is currently heads the organisation.

Shahabuddin, who is survived by his wife and four daughters, was buried at Panjpeeran cemetry in Nizamuddin with a large number of prominent Muslim figures in attendance.

Born in 1935 in Ranchi, now in Jharkhand, he joined the IFS in 1958 but took premature retirement in the 1970s to delve into politics.

As a diplomat, he lobbied for the creation of Bangladesh and rallied support in Latin America — where he was posted at that time — for Indian intervention in the affair.

Although considered to be in the good books of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, he was one of the few diplomats who were openly anti-Emergency.

Within eight months of relinquishing service, Shahabuddin was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1979 from Kishanganj in Bihar, a Muslim majority constituency that sent him to Lok Sabha multiple times but remained neglected by him as far as area development is considered.

Shahabuddin shot to further prominence during the Ramjanmabhoomi movement as he remained at the forefront of the movement from the Muslims’ side.

Although seen by many as a fundamentalist hawk thanks to his tough stance on Babri Masjid and Shah Bano issues, Shahabuddin was a practitioner of left of centre politics and proudly called himself a socialist.

Condolences poured from every quarter as the news of his demise spread.

Vice President Hamid Ansari, who was also an IFS officer, condoled his death.

In a message, Ansari said: “Syed Shahabuddin was a man of deep convictions, he pursued issues that were dear to him with great tenacity and determination.”

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the demise of renowned political leader, scholar, diplomat and former parliamentarian Shahabuddin,” Ansari said, adding that passing away is a personal loss as Shahabuddin was his friend.

Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla, AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi and other leaders also condoled the death.

“My condolence to the family of Syed Shahabuddin Saheb IFS and Ex-MP. May his soul rest in peace,” Heptulla said in a tweet.

Owaisi said that Shahabuddin’s death is great loss to nation and Muslim minorities in particular. He added that it will take many years to see a politician and intellectual like him.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy in a tweet, said: “Sorrow at my dear friend Syed Shahabuddin’s death this morning. He sacrificed a flourishing IFS career to enter politics. Giant intellectual.”

–IANS

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