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December 8, 2023
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Syed Ali Shah Geelani Passes Away; Restrictions Imposed In Kashmir

Tawqeer Hussain 

Jammu and Kashmir’s hardliner Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, passed away at his residence in Srinagar late Wednesday night. He was 92.

“With shock and grief, we inform (you) that the father of revolution Syed Ali Geelani passed away tonight,” tweeted Geelani’s Pakistan-based representative Abdullah Geelani.

Geelani, the face of pro-freedom resistance in Kashmir and a former elected legislator dies after a prolonged illness and had been under house detention for more than a decade.

According to the reports, soon after Geelani’s death, Police and paramilitary forces cordoned off the entire area. Except for his close relatives and few neighbors, no one was allowed to visit the house of the former Hurriyat chief.

May Journalists took to social media alleging that police have stopped them from covering the funeral of Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

Mobile Phones, Internet suspended, restrictions in Kashmir 

According to the reports, in view of the popularity of the deceased leader, Jammu and Kashmir authorities have clamped the movement of the General Public across Kashmir. Mobiles phones have been suspended and mobile internet and private wifi have been shut down. Only Govt owner BSNL mobile phones, landlines, and broadband is working in parts of Kashmir.

Local Journalists report that police are using loudspeakers and mosques to announce the restrictions and asking people not to come out of their homes.

 Geelan’s Life

Born on September 29, 1929, at Zurmanz, a village on the banks of the Wular lake in Bandipore, Geelani started his political career under the tutelage of Maulana Mohammad Sayeed Masoodi, a senior National Conference (NC) leader, but soon moved to Jamat-e-Islami.

Geelani’s electoral career started from Sopore, a traditional separatist and Jamat stronghold. He first contested the Assembly elections in 1972 and represented Sopore in the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir Assembly for three terms. The last term ended abruptly in 1987 when militancy erupted in Kashmir.

In 2004, Geelani also parted ways from Jamat-e-Islami when it distanced itself from militancy, and formed his own political outfit, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.

Geelani had been one of the four candidates of the Muslim United Front (MUF) — an alliance of political, social, and religious organisations — who won in the widely rigged 1987 elections that brought the NC-Congress to combine to power and set off militancy in the Valley.

In 2003 Geelani parted ways with the Hurriyat Conference – the largest amalgam of separatists in Jammu and Kashmir- after being its executive member for a decade. In 2004, Geelani also parted ways from Jamat-e-Islami and formed his own political outfit called Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.

being bed-ridden for years, Geelani surprised everyone by dissociating himself from the faction of Hurriyat that he founded. He left the reins to his deputy Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, who died in custody in Jammu jail earlier this year.

And though Geelani said he wanted the resolution of the Kashmir issue as per the aspirations of the people, he himself was an ardent supporter of its merger with Pakistan. Last year, the Pakistan government awarded him with Nishan-e-Pakistan, the highest civilian honor of the country.

Condolences Pour In

The former chief minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti condoled Geelani’s demise, saying, “We may not have agreed on most things but I respect him for his steadfastness and standing for his beliefs.”

People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone tweeted: “Heartfelt condolences to the family of Syed Ali Shah Geelani sahib. Was an esteemed colleague of my late father. May Allah grant him Jannat”.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said the country will observe official mourning and the country’s flag will fly half-mast. Geelani had struggled “all his life for his people & their right to self-determination”, Khan said.

(With inputs from Local Journalists and media reports)

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