Shopain, Jammu and Kashmir
|Died||March 10, 2004
|Organization||World Kashmir Freedom Movement, Justice Foundation, Mercy Universal.|
|Movement||Jammu and Kashmir insurgency.|
Muhammad Ayyub Thakur (1948 – March 10, 2004) was a Kashmiri political activist and founder of London-based World Kashmir Freedom Movement (WKFM), an organisation that claimed to seek a "peaceful political solution" to the Kashmir Conflict. He founded a so-called "charity organization", Mercy Universal, which was investigated by the British Charity Commission for links to Kashmiri terrorist groups including Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir after Indian government raised concerns. However, Thakur claimed that he has "sent money for the destitute" and had documents and video evidence to prove it. The money was allegedly "sent to purchase 800 sewing machines for the widows". Thakur also claimed to "struggle for the right of self-determination" for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. After Thakur's death in 2004, both WKFM and Mercy Universal became largely inactive. Neither has any full-time employees as of 2011, nor does either have any regular source of funds.
Thakur lectured extensively on Kashmir issue. He attended hundreds of seminars and conferences around the world in universities, think tanks and other institutions, including the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and United Nations bodies. Thakur was a self-appointed Trustee of the UK-based charitable organisation, Mercy Universal, which he had founded in 2000. Mercy Universal claimed to provide humanitarian assistance mainly to the Kashmiri people., He was the Director of the Justice Foundation, which he founded in 2003 as a registered UK company "to advance the Kashmir cause through public advocacy".
Dr. Ayyub Thakur obtained his Doctorate (Phd.) in Nuclear Physics from the University of Kashmir. In 1978, after a brief stint at the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (Zakoora, Srinagar) he became lecturer in the Department of Physics in the same university. He had a keen interest in the social and political issues of Jammu and Kashmir. He started his political career in early 1970s as a student leader in the University of Kashmir. He rallied Kashmiri youth and students and founded Jammu and Kashmir Students Islamic Organisation in 1974 and continued to be its patron till 1977. This organisation later merged with another organisation and changed into Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, which he headed from 1977–1981. He was also the president of Kashmir University Students Union and Kashmir University Research Scholars Association. As a student leader, Dr. Thakur attended international youth and student conferences at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1979, Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1980 and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in the same year. In these conferences, Dr. Thakur "put forward the Kashmiri viewpoint" and "drew the world attention towards" the Kashmir problem. In Kuala Lumpur conference in 1980, he was "instrumental" in passing a resolution condemning the alleged Indian "occupation" of Jammu and Kashmir. Dr. Thakur organised meetings of the youth and students to "challenge the Kashmir's accession to India" which he considered as "fraudulent". He strongly opposed the accord between unionist Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah and Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1974, as being aimed at strengthening Indian "occupation" of Jammu and Kashmir.
Imprisonment and Dismissal
After becoming lecturer at the University of Kashmir he intensified his "peaceful political activities". He began organising students and colleagues to form an "intellectual response" to the Indian "occupation". In August 1980, he and many of his colleagues at university and students organisation, Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba, organised an international conference on the issue of right of self-determination of Kashmiris as outlined in the United Nations resolutions on Kashmir. Indian government, however, banned the conference and dismissed Dr. Ayyub from his job as a university teacher, and later imprisoned him along with his colleagues under Public Safety Act (PSA). Thakur, during his five month imprisonment, was subjected to inhuman torture of all sorts, but he refused to compromise on his political ideology. After his release in 1981 he began to travel across in Kashmir to mobilise Kashmir youth. He claimed that police tried to interrupt his activities every now and then. Claiming to be tired of "playing a cat-and-mouse game with the police", on May 25, 1981 he opted to accept the offer of a lecturer in the King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia where he served up to 1984.
In 1981, Dr. Thakur joined the Nuclear Engineering Department of King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia as a lecturer. During his stay, he tried to "mobilise support for the Kashmir cause". He married the daughter of a respectable man from Baramulla in 1981, in absentia. After six years of his service, he went to London in 1986 for post-doctoral research programme and simultaneously started organising support for the "Kashmir issue". Later in 1990, he took over as the president of the World Kashmir Freedom Movement (WKFM). He was also a trustee of the UK-based charity, Mercy Universal, which he had founded in 2000 and Director of the Justice Foundation, which he founded in 2003.
All the three organisations founded by Thakur have been investigated by Scotland Yard, the Charity Commission and the FBI for financial ties to the Pakistani Military and terrorist groups active in Jammu and Kashmir. Of the three, only the Justice Foundation (Kashmir Centre) is still active as of 2011, while the other two are only sporadically active. As of August 2011, a Brussels-based affiliate of the Kashmir Centre, named the Kashmir Centre-Europe, also came under investigation based on evidence found by the FBI implicating the Inter-Services Intelligence agency of the Pakistani Military in secretly funding both Kashmir Centres in London and Brussels, however all the allegations made were found to incorrect and of false pretense.
Impounding of Indian Passport
The Government of India stripped Thakur of his citizenship in 1993, after impounding his passport. He subsequently obtained British travel papers which he used until his death in 2004. Upon his death, Thakur's family petitioned the Government of India for the privilege of being buried in his ancestral village in Jammu & Kashmir. Since he died a de facto British subject, having forfeited his Indian citizenship, the Indian Government summarily dismissed this petition.
World Kashmir Freedom Movement
The World Kashmir Freedom Movement (WKFM) is an umbrella organisation of expatriate Kashmiris from Indian administrated Kashmir working internationally for the "promotion of the Kashmir cause". It was set up on 17 June 1990 with Dr. Ayyub Thakur as it president and has offices in Europe, Americas and Middle East. In July 1991, the World Kashmir Freedom Movement organised an international conference on Kashmir issue in Washington, D.C. Some junior US congressmen, backbenchers from British Parliament and European Parliament as well as "distinguished intellectuals and academicians" participated in the conference and "supported tri-partite talks for the resolution of Kashmir dispute". During his address to the conference, Dr. Ayyub Thakur, "urged Kashmiri militants to renounce the misuse of force" no matter how compelling the self-determination aspiration.
The Indian Government took the success of the conference "very seriously", and accused Dr. Ayyub Thakur of sending money to the Kashmiri freedom fighters for terrorist activities. Under the directions of various Indian intelligence agencies, many cases ranging from terrorism to sabotage were registered against him. The Indian Government booked him under infamous Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA). This case later formed the genesis of the famous Jain Hawala Corruption Case, in which 38 prominent Indian politicians were charge sheeted and later discharged.
Dr. Ayyub Thakur also attended the 1991 Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Foreign minister meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, the 1993 OIC summit meeting in Dakar, Senegal and World tactics did not yield the desired result. On this occasion Dr. Ayyub Thakur led a delegation and "highlighted the Indian intransigence" and the "massive human rights violations". World KKashmir Freedom Movement also joined other Kashmiri groups and attended March 1993 session of United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) and later the World Conference on Human Rights at Vienna, Austria in June 1993. As the World Kashmir Freedom Movement activities were growing, Indian Government tried to extradite Ayub Thakur on charges of financing 'terrorism' and secessionist plotting. Indian government twice sought his extradition from the UK in 1992 and 1993. After its failure, they finally impounded his passport in 1993. This left Dr. Ayyub stranded in United Kingdom for about four years along with his family. However, in 1997 the British government issued him with a travel document, which he used till his death.
During the visit of British Home Secretary Jack Straw to India in May 2002, Indian Deputy Prime Minister, LK Advani in his meeting with him accused Dr. Thakur of diverting funds to the Kashmiri militants for terrorist activities. He first demanded the arrest of Dr. Thakur under the new anti-terrorist laws and when it did not work, demanded his deportation or extradition to India. The Indian Government tried to build the pressure and made repeated demands for his extradition. Moreover, the Indian intelligence agencies launched a "vicious propaganda campaign" in the Indian media against Dr. Thakur. Later, in August 2002 when Mr. LK Advani visited UK, he again demanded the extradition of the Dr. Ayyub Thakur. In addition, the Indian High Commission in London reportedly formed a two-member committee to follow the issue on day-to-day basis. The Indian governments failure to provide any proof in support of their claims about Thakur, to the British government, reiterated their corrupt attempts to bring him down, because of his political activity, which highlighted the atrocities the Indian government were encouraging and supporting through army brutality.
In 2000, World Kashmir Freedom Movement president and its leaders formed, Mercy Universal. Mercy Universal is self-described as an "International Humanitarian Organisation" registered with the Charity Commission in the United Kingdom. It worked for the mitigation of peoples suffering in some of the world's poorest communities in South Asia and East Africa and also provided humanitarian relief. Reports obtained by the Charity Commission indicated that the charity rehabilitated more than 2000 people in Jammu and Kashmir, the beneficiaries among which include hundreds of widows and orphan children whose partners and parents were killed by the Indian Army.
Family Members Allegedly Harassed
During the last 15 years all of his family members, relatives and friends were allegedly subjected to house raids, torture and harassment by the Indian army and its various agencies. His ancestral home in Kashmir was and has been raided many a time and his old parents threatened.
His son Muzzammil Ayyub Thakur is a small businessman, self-described as a Financial Consultant, based in London. Even though his visa applications to visit Kashmir were denied several times, he was allowed to openly visit Kashmir in 2011. He has been welcomed by and promoted by various television channels (including the likes of Press TV of Iran) through interviews. He has also regularly lectured in universities across the UK, in addition to having attended numerous international conferences including the likes of ICYF and EHY, as a speaker. There is much evidence to indicate his political activities and endeavours.
He died at the age of 55, in London on March 10, 2004 after an illness. He was suffering from pulmonary fibrosis. His funeral was held at the London Central Mosque, Regent Park, and he was laid to rest at the Garden of Peace, in Greenford, West London, close to where he had been living for many years. The Indian Government, having stripped him of his citizenship in 1993, dismissed a request by his family that his remains to be returned to his self-described "homeland" in Kashmir. He is survived by his widow, a son and two daughters.
Notes and references
- "Kashmiri separatist Ayyub Thakur dies". Rediff.com. March 10, 2004. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
- Ayyub Thakur extradition MHA priority
- "Mercy Universal". http://www.muslimdirectory.co.uk. Archived from the original on 30 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
- "JUSTICE FOUNDATION KASHMIR CENRE". Retrieved 2009-04-08.
- Bhat, Abdul Latif (March 15, 2004). "Kashmiri Leader Ayub Thakur, a Dynamic Personality ... Died in London". Al-Jazeera. Archived from the original on 2004-10-15. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
- Hussain, Massod (15 August 2000). "Kashmir Times profile of Thakur". Kashmir Times. Retrieved 2009-04-14.
- Fai, Ghulam Nabi. "A Salute to A Kashmiri Colossus". Media Monitors Network. Retrieved 2006-01-02.
- "Remembering Ayyub Thakur". Kashmir Watch. 19 Oct 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
- "Clueless investigators, subverted state". The Milli Gazette. Retrieved 2006-01-02.
- B L Kak (17 August 2002). "Is London pro-Ayyub Thakur?". Daily Excelsior. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
- "INDO-UK TIES". The Financial Express. 25 August 2002. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
- "Prominent People who have died from Pulmonary Fibrosis". Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, Colorado. Retrieved 2009-04-08.[dead link]
- Bajwa, Azmat. "Kashmiri Veteran Dr Ayyub Thakur Expires". Pakistan Times. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
- Mercy Universal - a relief agency working in some of the most deprived areas of the world.
- The Justice Foundation – Kashmir Centre in London
- Kashmiri - Canadian Council
- Kashmir Centre.EU