February 2001 News

Hurriyat’s youngest face looks to US to marry

26 February 2001
The Indian Express

Srinagar: He is the most eligible bachelor for many in Kashmir. Hurriyat Conference leader and the scion of the Mirwaiz clan, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is getting engaged. The girl, Sheba Masoodi, is the youngest daughter of Sibtain Masoodi, a Kashmiri doctor who left the Valley in the 1970s and settled in Buffalo in the US. Masoodi has three daughters and a son. Sheba was born in the mid-70s in the US. The family has a house in Barzulla locality of Kashmir and occasionally visits the Valley. Though Sheba, a US citizen, will settle in the Valley, Umar will become a green card holder. Sources close to the girl’s family described her as a hijabi veiled and strictly Islamic. ‘‘She is a perfect match for Umar,’’ said a close relative of the Masoodis. The would-be bride’s elder sister is married to the son of a senior bureaucrat in Kashmir. Sources said the alliance was arranged and the engagement is likely to take place after Eid-ul Zuha or Bakrid which falls on March 6. Sheba was introduced to Umar by his elder sister. ‘‘Sheba had come here (Kashmir) for some social work and chanced upon Umar’s elder sister. They became friends. And then through his sister, she got introduced to Umar,’’ the source said. Confirming the impending engagement, Umar said it was being finalised by the two families. ‘‘Yes, the engagement will take place in a few weeks and the marriage has been scheduled for next year. She (Sheba) is keen to pursue her masters after graduation,’’ a shy Umar said. Umar, in fact, had been visiting US quite often as a Hurriyat leader. The latest being in July last year when he was on a three-month educational trip to Iran and Central Asia for collecting research material for his doctorate titled ‘‘Politico-Islamic role of Shah-e-Hamdan’’, a 14th century Islamic scholar who introduced Islam in the Valley. Born on March 23, 1973, Umar did his schooling from the prestigious Burn Hall High School. A computer freak, which he remains till this day, Umar wanted to become a computer engineer. His father’s death, however, forced him to take up an entirely different path that he had not perceived for himself, he recalls. He completed his graduation in Arts from the Kashmir University and simultaneously the ‘Moulvi Fazil’ a postgraduate degree in Islamic studies. Umar was catapulted into limelight soon after his father Moulvi Muhammad Farooq was assassinated in 1990 when militancy was gaining momentum. The entire responsibility fell on his shoulders. Groomed by a bunch of intellectuals, he soon learned the tricks of the trade and delivered the goods. Umar is already a globe-trotter. He has attended several meetings at the national and international fora including the NAM summit and OIC meet. He has travelled far and wide from Geneva to America to Europe and Central Asia. The event is likely to rival the excitement in the Valley when Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone’s son married Pakistan-based JKLF leader Amanullah Khan’s daughter recently. The couple, Sajad Lone and Asma Khan had became celebrities overnight.


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