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Thursday Sep 02 2021
By
Web Desk

Veteran Kashmiri resistance leader Syed Ali Geelani passes away in Srinagar

By
Web Desk
Chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Confe­rence Syed Ali Shah Geelani. — AFP/File
Chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Confe­rence Syed Ali Shah Geelani. — AFP/File

A symbol of the Kashmiri freedom movement, and former chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Confe­rence (APHC), Syed Ali Shah Geelani passed away on Wednesday in the Indian-occupied Kashmir city of Srinagar.

According to Kashmir Media Service, the veteran Kashmiri leader was 92. 

He was an uncompromising campaigner against Indian rule and had been under house arrest for the past 11 years. He had been ill for several months.

He was suffering from multiple ailments and the continued house arrest had taken a heavy toll on his health, KMS said.

KMS, citing family sources, reported that he "developed serious complications on Wednesday afternoon and breathed his last in the evening". 

“He had chest congestion and breathing problems. He passed away at 10:30pm," they said.

Mourning

The Azad Jammu and Kashmir government has announced three days of mourning on the death of Syed Ali Geelani. The death of the Kashmiri leader will be marked with a one-day holiday, said a spokesman of Azad Kashmir Prime Minister.

Funeral prayers of Syed Ali Geelani will be offered in absentia in all district headquarters of Azad Kashmir, the spokesman said.

Funeral

Geelani's funeral prayers will be offered at Mazar-e-Shuhada at 12 noon today, said his representative Abdullah Gilani. He said people in different areas were not allowed to leave their homes.

Abdullah said the Indian Army is not even allowing Kashmiris to see the face of their beloved leader for the last time. The Indian government has deployed the army on large scale to stop people coming from other cities to attend the funeral.

He said the army is patrolling the entire area after closing it down with barbed wires.

Geelani's special representative said India is confused and had lost all senses. Despite it dons the garb of democracy, India is not even allowing the burial of the senior leader, said Abdullah.

Reports of the Indian occupational forces putting pressure on Geelani’s family to bury him in the night without a proper funeral surfaced soon after news of his demise broke.

A security clampdown was also imposed, AFP reported, citing residents.

Troops put up barbed wire and barricades on roads leading to Geelani's house in the main city of Srinagar after the family announced the death, according to AFP

Hundreds of security forces were immediately deployed and media reports said a curfew would be imposed and internet services cut.

Announcements were made from loudspeakers of the main mosque near Geelani's residence asking people to march towards the house. But scores of armoured vehicles and trucks patrolled main roads in the area. Police appealed for people not to go out on the street.

National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf wrote: "We demand that India allow Syed Ali Geelani’s family to complete his last rites as per their wishes and warn India not to play with fire. Kashmiris will resist such cowardly acts.

"Through such cowardly acts, India is once again demonstrating that it is afraid of the Kashmiri voices that stand for truth. These are symptoms of a cowardly and insecure country that knows it is occupying Jammu and Kashmir against the wishes of the Kashmir people who want freedom," he said.

A brief profile

Syed Ali Geelani was born on September 29, 1929 in a village on the banks of Wular lake in Sopore area of Kashmir's Baramulla district, according to Anadolu Agency.

He remained a staunch opponent of India's illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir and lead the Kashmiris’ struggle for their right to self-determination.

Since his youth Geelani had been a member of Jamaat-i-Islami, the largest political-religious organisation in Kashmir that was banned by the Hindu nationalist government in 2019. 

Later on, he founded his own party by the name of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat. 

Geelani had been a thorn in India's side since the early 1960s when he began campaigning for the territory's merger with Pakistan. He also pursued his separatist calls as a member of the Kashmir assembly, from the Sopore constituency of Jammu and Kashmir, elected three times — 1972, 1977 and 1987.

The veteran politician was jailed for nearly 10 years after 1962 and often restricted to his home after that.

He also served as the Chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a forum of freedom parties in Jammu and Kashmir, from which he stepped down last year.

Condolences

Prime Minister Imran Khan said he is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the Kashmiri freedom fighter "who struggled all his life for his people and their right to self determination".

"He suffered incarceration and torture by the occupying Indian state but remained resolute," the premier said.

"We in Pakistan salute his courageous struggle and remember his words: 'Hum Pakistani hain aur Pakistan humara hai'," he added.

The prime minister announced that the Pakistan flag will fly at half mast and we will observe a day of official mourning.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan mourns the loss of Geelani, whom he termed "torch bearer of the Kashmir freedom movement".

"Shah sahab fought for the rights of Kashmiris till the very end, under house arrest of Indian occupation. May he rest in peace and may his dream of freedom come true," Qureshi said.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa also expressed deep grief over the sad demise of Geelani, "icon of Kashmir freedom movement".

"His lifelong sacrifices and ceaseless struggle symbolises the indomitable resolve of Kashmiris against Indian occupation," Bajwa was quoted by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) as saying.

"His dream and his mission will live on until people of occupied Jammu and Kashmir win their right of self-determination," the army chief added.

National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf also reacted to the "heartbreaking" news, saying that Geelani "lived his life for the people of Kashmir and for their freedom from India's illegal and oppressive occupation".

"He was a hero for Kashmiris and Pakistanis alike. May Allah (swt) rest his soul in peace," Yusuf said.

He added that Geelani is a shaheed and "his indomitable spirit for freedom will live on in the Kashmiri people". 

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Geelani was synonymous with the freedom movement in Kashmir.

"His life was a metaphor for constant struggle," Bilawal said, extending his condolences to Kashmiris around the world, especially in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and India-occupied Kashmir.

"Syed Ali Geelani's mission was the independence of Kashmir and the realisation of this dream is our destination," the PPP chairman said.

Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and President of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said she was "saddened by the news".

"We may not have agreed on most things but I respect him for his steadfastness and standing by his beliefs. May Allah Ta'aala grant him jannat and condolences to his family and well wishers," she wrote.

Mushaal Hussein Mullick, wife of resistance leader Yasin Malik, expressed shock and sorrow over his death.

"I wish he would have seen the face of [a] free Kashmir. But his life struggle is a model for us to stand firm against oppression and occupational forces," she said.

Later, she released a video message to pay tribute to the iconic leader.

Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani expressed grief over the death of the Hurriyat leader.

"Syed Ali Geelani has rendered invaluable services in the struggle for Kashmir's right to self-determination," Sanjrani said, adding: "India cannot suppress the freedom struggle by imprisoning the Hurriyat leadership."

We will continue to support Kashmiris' struggle for self-determination, the Senate chairman added.

Former Azad Jammu and Kashmir president Sardar Masood Khan, in his condolence message, called Geelani a "brave and resolute Kashmiri leader", and prayed for his soul to rest in peace.

"People of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan mourn his passing away. So do freedom lovers all over the world," he said.

"The flame of freedom that Syed Ali Geelani lit for generations will continue to burn brighter," he added.

The Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Salvation Movement Altaf Ahmed Butt said the Indian army had been deployed around Syed Ali Geelani's house. The Hurriyat leader said the Indian army also arrested his relatives.

Altaf Butt said the Indian government has deployed a large contingent of the army to prevent people from attending the funeral.

Hurriyat leader Abdul Hameed Lone called upon the Kashmiri people to thwart Indian tactics and break all Indian restrictions while marching towards the "Mazar-e-Shudha" [Martyrs' Shrine] in Srinagar to pay homage to their leader come out and attend his funeral.

Abdul Hameed Lone said Geelani expressed his desire for burial at the Martyrs' Shrine in Srinagar hence, he will be buried at the Martyrs' Shrine of Srinagar.

He said the Pakistani government has announced mourning. Also, three-day mourning has been announced for the leader in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. 

Lone paid rich tribute to the Kashmiri leader saying that the spirit and passion of freedom infused in the hearts of Kashmiris by him can never be diminished.

Pakistan High Commissioner Moazzam Ahmad Khan expressed regret over the death of Syed Ali Geelani, saying he was a great leader of Kashmir's independence movement.

"I had the privilege of meeting the late Syed Ali Gilani several times," said the High Commissioner on his Twitter handle.

"Syed Ali Geelani's unwavering determination will continue to illuminate the path of freedom movement."

Internet service has been completely suspended in the valley, according to media reports with the occupying Indian forces laying siege to mosques and houses of Hurriyat leaders and activists.