Separatist Patriarch, Syed Ali Shah Geelani passes away at the age of 92

Syed Ali Shah Geelani

Syed Ali Shah Geelani

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the Valley's patriarch of separatist politics and a hardcore Hurriyat hawk, died late Wednesday night at his Srinagar home.

The elderly 92-year-old, a former elected politician, has been held in house confinement for more than a decade. His death comes at a time when both his and the Hurriyat's moderate groups are in disarray as a result of the National Investigation Agency's (NIA) crackdown, the repeal of Article 370, and the downgrading of Jammu and Kashmir to two Union Territories.

Fearing that his funeral may draw enormous crowds, the security establishment has placed limitations throughout the Valley, including the suspension of Internet access. According to police sources, a curfew would be implemented.

Abdullah Geelani, Geelani's Pakistan-based agent, tweeted, "With shock and grief, we notify (you) that the father of revolution Syed Ali Geelani died tonight." “According to his wishes, he will be buried in Srinagar's martyrs' graveyard. The funeral's date and time will be revealed later.”

The administration, on the other hand, is unlikely to allow Geelani to be buried in this cemetery.

Geelani's reputation will be that of a hardliner who stood up to New Delhi and sought a UN-mediated resolution to the Kashmir conflict. In fact, he was the only separatist leader to speak out against Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf when the latter abandoned Islamabad's conventional stance on Kashmir and suggested a four-point solution.

Geelani was born on September 29, 1929, in Zurmanz, a Bandipore town on the banks of the Wular Lake. He rose to prominence as the face of separatist movements.

He began his political career as a schoolteacher under the tutelage of Maulana Mohammad Sayeed Masoodi, a senior leader of the National Conference (NC), but soon switched to Jamat-e-Islami. The socio-religious organisation defied the NC leadership, seeing Kashmir as an unfinished Partition agenda.

Geelani began his political career in Sopore, a traditionally separatist and Jamat bastion. He first ran for the Assembly in 1972, and served three terms in the former Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, representing Sopore. When militancy flared in Kashmir in 1987, the previous term came to an end unexpectedly.

Geelani was one of four Muslim United Front (MUF) candidates who won in the highly disputed 1987 elections that brought the NC-Congress coalition to power and sparked unrest in the Valley.

Geelani was one of the Hurriyat Conference's seven executive members when it was founded in 1993. He is an outspoken proponent of armed struggle as a means of resolving the Kashmir conflict. His support for militancy and steadfast ideology on Kashmir, on the other hand, fostered the seeds of division among his Hurriyat Conference colleagues, eventually leading to a split in 2003.

When Jamat-e-Islami distanced itself from militancy in 2004, Geelani split from it and created Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, his own political party.

While Geelani has been ill for years and has been incommunicado for the past two years, he surprised everyone on June 30 last year by dissociating himself from the Hurriyat faction he created. Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, his subordinate, died in captivity in Jammu jail earlier this year.

Even though Geelani stated that he wanted the Kashmir issue resolved in accordance with the people's will, he was an outspoken proponent of the region's unification with Pakistan. Last year, the Pakistani government bestowed upon him the Nishan-e-Pakistan, the country's highest civilian honour.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has so far detained 18 separatist leaders in Kashmir, including members of the Hurriyat, in a case of terror funding, claims that they received monies from Pakistan to incite unrest in the Valley. The CIA had even mentioned Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq in the chargesheet, stating they were advocating for secession and fomenting trouble, but had not designated them as suspects.

The NIA raided Umer Farooq's and Geelani's son Naseem Geelani's homes, among others, in February 2019. Geelani was fined Rs 14.40 lakh by the Enforcement Directorate in March 2019 in a 17-year-old case of suspected illegal possession of $10,000 in violation of the foreign exchange law.

Source:- Indian Express



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