Jailed separatist leader Altaf Shah passes away at AIIMS, says daughter

Jailed separatist leader Altaf Ahmad Shah passed away at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi early on Tuesday morning. Shah’s daughter Ruwa Shah confirmed the death through a tweet. “Abu (father) breathed his last at AIIMS, New Delhi. As a prisoner,” she tweeted.

Son-in-law of late Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Shah was arrested by the NIA in 2018, along with several other separatist leaders, in an alleged terror funding case and was lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail.

Over the last six months, his daughter has been making regular appeals to the authorities saying he is not keeping well and needs immediate medical attention. According to his daughter, Shah was diagnosed with renal cancer that spread to other parts of his body, and was shifted to Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital that had no oncology department. The Delhi High Court had on October 1 ordered that Shah be shifted to AIIMS in Delhi, but he was moved to the hospital only some days ago. The court had also directed that his son or daughter be allowed to meet him for an hour every day.

Ruwa had also made an appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, seeking immediate medical attention for her father and bail on humanitarian grounds. A resident of Soura in Srinagar, Shah was the son-in-law of late Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and was one of his close associates. He was also associated with the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, founded by Geelani in 2004.

Shah is survived by his wife, a son and two daughters. Shah’s son Anees ul Islam, the oldest among the siblings, had lost his government job in October 2021 under section 311 (2) (C) for being a “threat to the security of the state”. “Docs here (RML) refuse to speak to us. The police is not letting us see him. He needs treatment ASAP,” Ruwa tweeted a week ago. “His lungs are not functioning. Oxygen has dropped. They are not letting us see him before they put him on ventilator.”

In September, Ruwa had also written an open letter to the Prime Minister seeking medical care for her father. “My father Mr Altaf Ahmad Shah who is currently incarcerated at Tihar jail in New Delhi was unwell for over two weeks during which he repeatedly requested the jail authorities to take him to a hospital. When he was finally taken to Deendayal hospital Janakpuri, the doctors referred him to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital for further treatment owing to his seemingly critical conditions. However, he was brought back to Tihar jail instead,” she had written in her letter on September 22.