After a long illness, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a prominent separatist political figure in Jammu and Kashmir, died Wednesday at the age of 92 at his residence in Srinagar. He was buried on Thursday in the Hyderpora area of Sri Nagar in the presence of close relatives and neighbours.
According to the AFP, residents in Kashmir claim that security has been tightened, with large contingents of police and paramilitary troopers in riot gear stationed outside Geelani’s home. Throughout the region, restrictions have been imposed, and mobile internet services have been unavailable.
In Jammu and Kashmir, Syed Ali Shah Geelani was known as a pro-Pakistan Kashmiri separatist leader. Before forming Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, an alliance of pro-separatist Jammu and Kashmir parties, he was a key member of Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir. He was the chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a separatist alliance that vehemently opposes Indian rule in Kashmir and advocates for the union of Kashmir and Pakistan.
In 1972, 1977, and 1987, he was also a notable member of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly from the Sopore constituency. In 2010, he was charged with sedition and placed under house arrest. In all of his statements, Geelani asserted support to a referendum in Jammu and Kashmir for non-violent resolution of the issue. Nonetheless, he had frequently praised terrorists in the past, and his name had been made public in cases involving terrorist financing and fraudulent transactions.
Due to his declining health, Mr Geelani was confined to his home following the abolishment of Article 370 on August 5, 2019. He was awarded Pakistan’s highest civilian honour, the Nishan-e-Pakistan, last year.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed her condolences for Geelani’s passing on Twitter. “Saddened by the news of Geelani Sahab’s passing away. We may not have agreed on most things, but I respect him for his steadfastness and standing by his beliefs,” Mufti tweeted.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has also paid homage to Geelani, publicly declaring a day of national mourning in his honour.
“Deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Kashmiri freedom fighter Syed Ali Geelani who struggled all his life for his people & their right to self-determination. He suffered incarceration & torture by the Occupying Indian state but remained resolute,” Khan wrote on Twitter.