SRINAGAR: Veteran Kashmiri separatist leader and former chief of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Syed Ali Shah Geelani passed away on Wednesday. He was born in the town Sopore Baramulla, North Kashmir, on 29 September 1929. Geelani died at his home at 10pm, later
he was laid to rest in Srinagar on Thursday. Geelani was buried at 4:30 am Thursday at a cemetery near his home in the main city of Srinagar. Only a small number of his relatives were present, including two of his sons, the police source added. Geelani had wanted to be buried at the Martyrs Cemetery in Srinagar but authorities rejected that request.
Geelani, a veteran campaigner for freedom of Kashmir, had been under house arrest for the past 11 years. In 1960s when he began campaigning for the territory’s merger with Pakistan. He also pursued his separatist calls as a member of the Kashmir assembly. He was jailed for nearly 10 years after 1962 and often restricted to his home after that.
Since his youth, Geelani had been a member of Jamaat-i-Islami, which was banned by the Hindu nationalist government in 2019.
Last year, Geelani had resigned from his post as APHC chief, of which he had been a member since its formation in 1993 as a political arm of the anti-India movement. He was elected its chairman for life in 2003. Hurriyat Conference (Geelani) has more than 24 constituent parties, some of which have only a handful of members.
In a press release, the APHC said that along with general physical weakness that the veteran leader had been experiencing for some time, his chest infection was also “not satisfactorily” responding to treatment.
Pakistan to observe day of mourning.
President Dr Arif Alvi had last year conferred Nishan-i-Pakistan, the country’s highest civil award, on Geelani in recognition of his decades-old struggle for Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.
Terming Geelani the “torchbearer of the Kashmir freedom movement”, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan mourned the veteran leader’s death. “[Geelani] 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,” he tweeted.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “deeply saddened” to learn about Geelani’s death. Recalling his courageous struggle, the premier said Geelani had struggled all his life for his people and their right to self-determination.
“He suffered incarceration and torture by the occupying Indian state but remained resolute. The Pakistan flag will fly at half-mast and we will observe a day of official mourning,” the premier announced.
According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Directorate, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa expressed deepest grief on the sad demise of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. “General Qamar Javed Bajwa #COAS expresses deepest grief on the sad demise of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, icon of #Kashmir Freedom Movement. “His lifelong sacrifices & ceaseless struggle symbolises indomitable resolve of Kashmiris against Indian occupation,” DG ISPR tweeted late Wednesday. “His dream & his mission will live on until People of IIOJ&K win their right of self-determination.
Pakistan Foreign Office
Pakistan on Thursday condemned what it called the “snatching” of the remains of Kashmiri leader and former chief of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Syed Ali Geelani, from his family by authorities in Srinagar.
“Pakistan strongly condemns the barbaric act of snatching of the mortal remains of the iconic Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani from his family,” the foreign office said in a statement, adding that Indian security forces raided the leader’s residence in Srinagar and “snatched” Geelani’s body from his family as it prepared for his final rites.
“They were reportedly told that India would not allow Syed Geelani’s burial at the place of his choosing,” the foreign office said. “Government of India is so afraid of Syed Geelani and what he stood for that they have now resorted to this inhuman act even after his passing away.”
The foreign office called on the international community to take note of this “unprecedented and egregious situation” and hold India to account for what it called a breach of international human rights and humanitarian laws.
Opposition leader in the National Assembly, Shehbaz Sharif, said Geelani personified the Kashmiri struggle for freedom:
“Torture and long periods of incarceration could not sway him from his mission,” he said in a tweet. “Geelani Sahib’s story is one of sacrifice, determination & selflessness. May his soul rest in peace!”
Opposition Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari called Geelani “another name” for the independence movement in Kashmir, his party said in a tweet.
Sharing a video message on Twitter, Mushaal Hussein Mullick, the wife of Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik, said the Kashmiri Hurriyat leader would always be remembered for his “bravery and truthfulness.”