Dr. Ayoub Thakur was born in 1948 to a humble peasant family of Pudsoo village in Shopian. He pursued his education with keen interest and became the first nuclear scientist of the state.
He ventured into the political field in early 1970s as a student leader in the University of Kashmir where he later became a lecturer in the Department of Physics.
He began rallying Kashmiri youth and students and founded ‘Jammu Kashmir Students Islamic Organisation’ in 1974 and continued to be its patron till 1977. The organization later merged with another organisation to form the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, which he headed from 1977 to 1981.
He was also the president of Kashmir University Students Union and later also headed the Kashmir University Research Scholars’ Association.
Thakur challenged Kashmir’s accession to India. He strongly opposed the accord between Sheikh Abdullah and Indira Gandhi in 1975. He traveled extensively and mobilized public opinion against the occupation of Kashmir. As a student leader, he 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, Thakur put forth the Kashmiri viewpoint and drew the world attention towards the dispute. In Kuala Lumpur conference, he was instrumental in getting a resolution condemning Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir moved and unanimously passed.
The Indian government banned the newly formed Jamiat-e-Talaba and dismissed Thakur from service and later imprisoned him along with his colleagues. When he came out of the jail in early 1981, he continued his activities and to mobilize the Kashmiri youth. However, he was soon forced to leave Kashmir. He went to Saudi Arabia and worked there for some time as a teacher at the King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah.
Later, Thakur moved to London in 1986 and launched the World Kashmir Freedom Movement (WKFM), an organization dedicated to finding a peaceful political solution to the Kashmir problem.
His activities gave sleepless nights to the authorities at New Delhi. His passport was impounded in 1993 as he suddenly became India’s most wanted man.
The Indian government accused him of funding Kashmiri militants. The WKFM organized an international conference on Kashmir issue in Washington D.C. where large number of US Congressmen, members of British Parliament and European Parliament and distinguished intellectuals and academicians were present. The conference supported tripartite talks for the resolution of Kashmir dispute.
Several cases were registered against him in India and Kashmir. New Delhi spared no effort to get Thakur extradited from Britain. The British government, however, issued travel documents to him in 1997.
Thakur lectured extensively on Kashmir issue. He attended hundreds of seminars and conferences around the world in universities, think tank centers and other institutions, including the prestigious universities of Oxford, Cambridge and UN bodies.
He also launched a charity Mercy Universal in 2000 for the `war victims’ in Kashmir.
His father, Khwaja Ghulam Ahmad Thakur died in November 2001 after a brief illness. He was 75. His 73-year-old mother, Fatima Begum died in December 2002. On both the occasions, Thakur could not attend the last rites.
Thakur fell seriously ill in 2004. On February 11, he informed his friend in Srinagar, Dr Habib about the ailment. Next day he was admitted in a London hospital where he went into coma. Thakur passed away on March 10, 2004. All efforts to get his body to Kashmir for burial failed. He was laid to rest in an alien land.
Thakur’s friends and family see a conspiracy in his demise. “The day he went into coma, he talked to his wife and looked hale and hearty”, said a family member.
Thakur’s demise was widely mourned in the Valley. Besides prayer meetings, seminars were held to pay tributes to his memory.