New Delhi: Indian politician Syed Shahabuddin, an influential political figure for minority Indian Muslims, has died aged 82.

The former diplomat was known for opposing the controversial demolition of the Babri Masjid mosque.

He served as an MP for three terms between 1979 and 1996, and also successfully campaigned to ban Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses. He died in hospital following a prolonged illness, BBC quoted local media. Syed Shahabuddin previously worked as an Indian Foreign Service officer and also led the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat - the country’s top-level forum for Muslim organisations. Mr Shahabuddin was also the head of the Babri Action Committee, an organisation dedicated to the preservation of a 16th Century mosque in Ayodhya. The contested ownership of the site and its eventual demolition created national tension between Hindus and Muslims, resulting in the 1992 riots in which 2,000 people died. The site remains a flashpoint today.

He also came to international attention for his efforts to ban The Satanic Verses, whose publication in 1988 outraged Muslims around the world.