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Tribute to Syed Ali Shah Geelani (1929-2021)

“Syed Ali Shah Geelani: The man who fought for Kashmir’s freedom. Geelani had a courtly appearance and kind manner, but I could sense the steel in his personality.”  

Sumantra Bose, a political scientist and author

“They snatched his body and forcibly buried him. Nobody from the family was present for his burial. We tried to resist but they overpowered us and even scuffled with women,”

son Naseem Geelani 

“He was the most recognized face of Kashmiri resistance against India and an iconic political figure, no other political figure from the valley matched his popularity.”

Noor Ahmad Baba, a political analyst in Kashmir. 

Former All Parties Hurriyat Conference leader and popular Kashmiri freedom fighter Syed Ali Shah Geelani passed away on 01 September 2021 inSrinagar, after a lengthy illness.  The ailing veteran had been under strict house arrest with his movements restricted by the Indian regime for over 11 years.

As soon the news of Syed Geelani’s death was released, India  plunged Kashmir into blackout and imposed the usual digital siege on the population, meaning no mobile phone or internet coverage.According to his family, around 3am Indian forces forcibly entered his house, took away his body and buried it without his family members in attendance. In the process even the veiled ladies of his family were manhandled by the Indian forces. Funeral rites were not allowed to be completed – a direct human-right violation.  We condemn such acts.

The picturesque Kashmir once known as the paradise on earth today is the world’s largest militarized zonewith approximately one million Indian security forces on the streets.

On 05 August 2019, India revoked Article 370 that gave Kashmir partial autonomy and imposed military siege. Kashmiris believe that Geelani’s death will make the region more volatile. He spent entire life insisting on bringing about the promised plebiscite to resolve Kashmir’s issue- one of the oldest unsolved issues withthe United Nations.

As the senior-most politician in Kashmir, Geelani has been witness to all developments in the region, beginning with the emerging of two nations from the British colony and subsequent occupation of his motherland in various stages. He has always been a strong opponent of India’s rule and has never accepted any kinds of dialogue with India.  Always an uncompromising spearhead of the Kashmir independence struggle, he personally preferred Kashmir to merge with Pakistan with insistence on the right to self-determination.

Although Syed Geelani’s demise will leave a gap in the freedom-struggle front, the spirit of Azadi (freedom) – their birth right, will not be taken away from the people of Kashmir.  

 

Written by Hanif Bismi

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