Rajouri Turns Around, Snubs Shabir Shah
6 June 2003
The Indian Express
Rajouri: When Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party supremo Shabir Shah visited this border township on January 20, 1994, raising his 'azadi' slogan, he was greeted by a crowd of over 20,000 at Gujjar Mandi Bazaar here. Over nine years later, when he raised the same slogan there today, not even a faint echo could be heard. Sensing the message from the people on the border, who have seen three bloody wars with Pakistan since 1947, Shah left the place in a huff. Sources said Shah has gone there to address a much publicised meeting around 11 am. Till noon, no one turned up at the venue which had been decorated by party workers with banners and buntings. Shah, who was waiting in his room at the dak bungalow, along with local office- bearers, suddenly got up and started moving towards the Gujjar Mandi Chowk. Nearly a dozen Nepali labourers, who were brought to the dak bungalow by a party worker, accompanied the separatist leader. At the crowded bazaar, Shah repeatedly raised the azadi and religious slogans to attract people but in vain. Thereafter, Shah tried to move ahead, but was stopped by the police. He then quietly went back to the dak bungalow. Earlier, addressing his party office-bearers, Shah accused the district administration and the state government of harassing people in order to dissuade them from attending his meeting. He said he had no fancy for big crowds as he was a missionary and not a professional politician. He refused to respond to any questions from the media. After Shabir Shah left for Jammu, the Nepali labourers started searching for Jabber Khan, a local Democratic Freedom Party leader. 'We were promised Rs 200 per head,' they complained but all the party leaders had vanished by then.