IT HAS been seven years since advocate Shahid Azmi was shot dead in his office at Taximen’s colony in Kurla on February 11, 2010. Among the cases Azmi was representing as a defence lawyer was the 26/11 terror attack. The trial of Azmi’s murder is, however, yet to begin. Last month, the main accused in the case, Devendra Jagtap, the alleged gunman who shot dead Azmi was denied bail by a sessions court. Another co-accused Hasmukh Solanki, too continues to remain in judicial custody while two others have been granted bail and one accused has been discharged in the case. Azmi’s younger brother, Khalid, who also is an advocate says that the family gets solace from the fact that the main accused in the case are behind bars.
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“It has been seven years. The accused had made an application in the court that they should be granted bail due to the delay in the trial. Their plea was also to not begin trial till they bail applications are heard by the court first. But, the court found merit to reject bail to them. To know that they are behind bars is enough for me for now, since it proves that the prosecution is doing its job,” Khalid says.
Azmi known for his legal prowess had a difficult journey towards becoming an advocate including defending terror charges at the age of 16. Khalid feels that he cannot match up to his brother but attempts to contribute to anyone in need like Azmi did. “My brother used to work very hard. He was very dynamic. I cannot be like him. Then too, when ever someone approaches me seeking legal help, I try contributing,” he says. For the family too, Khalid says the death has brought them closer. “He was the backbone of our family. We are still trying to cope with him being gone. We are managing. We still meet once a week and discuss things as a family,” he says speaking of his three brothers.
Khalid also laments the neglect of Azmi’s murder trial by Jamiat Ulama-i-Maharashtra, the NGO providing legal assistance to accused of terror.
“When the murder took place, we were assured by Jamiat that they will ensure justice to him. I had begun working with them and was assisting in other cases which required me to travel. I had not invested in my brother’s case only on their assurance that his case will be taken care of. It’s only when I realised that his case was being neglected since Jamiat did not file an intervention plea in the case that I decided to quit,” Khalid says. Khalid now continues to keep a close watch on the goings on in his brother’s case hoping that once the trial commences, the accused are convicted.