The leader of the Kashmiri separatist movement and former chief of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Syed Ali Shah Geelani has passed away at the age of 92. According to reports, he was severely ill for a long time and Indian occupation forces were keeping him under house arrest for the past 11 years. The death of Syed Geelani has received a divisive reaction from Kashmiris, Indians, and Pakistanis.
He was already a controversial figure in India for resisting Indian occupation in Kashmir and demanding freedom. Most of his Indian critics were seen celebrating his death on social media. However, Pakistani politicians and Kashmiri leaders have paid tributes to the deceased.
Death of Syed Geelani Saddens the Supporters of Kashmiri Struggle
Geelani was regarded as an icon of resistance in Kashmir who fought for its right to self-determination. He fiercely led an unapologetic campaign against Indian rule since the 1960s. Even as a member of the Kashmir assembly, he kept pushing for the territory’s merger with Pakistan. This might be the one reason why many other Kashmir activists could not agree with him because a merger and freedom were two different things. However, even due to ideological differences they still respected him for being a thorn on the side of the Indian regime. The former chief minister of occupied Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti prayed for his departed soul and condolences for his family.
How Geelani Fought Against Indian Occupation
Geelani was a legislature for a religiopolitical party Jamaat-E-Islami for 15 years. Not long after the beginning of his separatist run, Indian forces rounded him. Due to his campaigns, he faced a total of 10 years in prison as soon as he started speaking for freedom and Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan. Geelani despised the Indian government and refused to talk to them unless they formally stopped describing Kashmir as “an integral part of India”. He also criticized the irregular attempts of dialogue between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir issue. Reportedly, he had close relationships with Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed grief after the death of Syed Geelani.
Kashmir civilian resistance against the occupying forces was also credited to Ali Shah Geelani. He formed Hurriyat in 1993 and used civil disobedience to counter the same Hindutva extremists, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), which is ruling India currently. Under Geelani, rebels have been fighting the occupation since 1989. Most Muslims in Kashmir supported Geelani’s cause of either making Kashmir an independent state or join Pakistan.
Problematic Actions of Indian Forces
Reports stated that Indian forces locked Srinagar, Kashmir’s main city after the death of Syed Gilani. There were barriers and barbed wires placed near his home under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA). All communication services have been suspended except the government-run BSNL. Reports added that the Indian government might impose a curfew too because there were tensions in the region as always. The authorities also described internet crackdown as a way to prevent online rumors that may incite violence. The said tensions have been getting stronger in the region since the former President of BJP, Amit Shah abrogated article 370 and gave India more power to legally oppress Kashmir.