Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 2
Pro-Pakistan separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani (92), who passed away on Wednesday night after a prolonged illness, was given a quiet burial during the wee hours of Thursday amid tight security and putting several of the leaders and workers associated with Hurriyat under detention.
The separatist leader, who had suffered a minor heart attack in March 2018, was under strict house arrest for around a decade. He developed “breathing complications” on Wednesday around 10.30 pm and later breathed his last, sources close to the family said.
The hardliner Islamist leader, who has been the face of the separatist politics in Jammu and Kashmir for the past 50 years, had been ailing for long and had resigned from politics and Hurriyat after the Centre decided to withdraw the special status of J&K under Article 370.
The security agencies, with an aim to avoid any trouble during and after his burial, put under detention a few senior leaders and workers associated with Hurriyat, sources said, adding that they included Hurriyat leader and Chairman of JK People's League Mukhtar Ahmed Waza, who was arrested from his residence in Anantnag.
Meanwhile, former J&K chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti offered condolences on the death of Geelani and tweeted: “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 & standing by his beliefs. May Allah Ta'aala grant him jannat & condolences to his family & well wishers.”
Restrictions, including suspension of internet services, had been imposed in Kashmir Valley, said Vijay Kumar, IG Kashmir Zone. Security has also been strengthened outside Geelani’s house in Hyderpora, he added.
Geelani had quit the separatist organisation after 27 years’ association, after he was sidelined by Pakistan and its external intelligence agency ISI, security experts said.
At the time of his stepping down Hurriyat, Geelani had accused the separatist outfit of conspiring against him and failing to fire up the movement after the Centre scrapped the special status of J&K in August 2019.
A former J&K DGP told the Tribune that Geelani’s decision to quit Hurriyat was proof that the path he had chosen was wrong.
Geelani was elected to the Assembly of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir from Sopore constituency in 1972, 1977 and 1987. He was active in the political landscape of J&K for around five decades. He served as a senior member of the now-banned Jamaat-e-Islami. He also headed the Hurriyat faction, which opposed any unconditional dialogue with the Centre and advocated J&K’s accession with Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, while paying tribute to the Hurriyat leader, in a tweet said, “Pakistan mourns the loss of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, torch bearer of the Kashmir freedom movement. Shah Sb fought for the rights of Kashmiris till the very end, under house arrest of Indian occupation. May he rest in peace and may his dream of freedom come true.”
Responding to the Pakistan Foreign Minister’s praise for Geelani, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member, said in a tweet: “Mr. Qureshi, with this, you indeed lost a proxy of your intelligence agency working in India to radicalise innocent Kashmiris in the name of Jihad. Your nation & all your proxies shall go down in history for killing innocent Kashmiris.”
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