Veteran Hurriyat pioneer Syed Ali Geelani dies at 92


Veteran Kashmiri separatist leader and former chief of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Syed Ali Shah Geelani gave up the ghost on Wednesday, APHC leader Abdul Hameed Lone said.

In a statement, Lone said Geelani died at his home at 10pm.

He was 92 years old, consistent with the Kashmir Media Service.

Meanwhile, Indian authorities imposed a security clampdown in occupied Kashmir after Geelani’s death, residents said.

Troops put up wire rolls and barricades on roads resulting in Geelani’s house within the main city of Srinagar after the family announced the death.

Hundreds of security forces were immediately deployed and media reports said a curfew would be imposed and internet services cut.

Announcements were made up of loudspeakers of the most mosque near Geelani’s residence asking people to march towards the house. But many armoured vehicles and trucks patrolled main roads within the area. Police appealed for people to not leave on the road .

Uncompromising campaigner against Indian rule
Geelani, an uncompromising campaigner against Indian rule out Kashmir, had been under confinement for the past 11 years. He had been ill for several months.

Geelani had been a thorn in India’s side since the first 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.

The veteran politician was jailed for nearly 10 years after 1962 and sometimes restricted to his home then .

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 all times in 2003. Hurriyat Conference (Geelani) has quite 24 constituent parties, a number of which have only a couple of members.

Last month, the APHC had said that the 11-years-long confinement had taken an important toll on Geelani’s health and his condition continued to deteriorate.

In a handout a replica of which was shared by the Kashmir Media Service, the APHC said that along side general physical weakness that the veteran leader had been experiencing for a few time, his chest infection was also “not satisfactorily” responding to treatment.

Pakistan to watch day of mourning
Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was “deeply saddened” to find out 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 that we will observe each day of official mourning,” the premier announced.

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”, secretary of state Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan mourned the veteran leader’s death.

“[Geelani] fought for the rights of Kashmiris till the very end, under confinement of Indian occupation. May he rest in peace and should his dream of freedom come true,” he tweeted.

Former chief minister of Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, also expressed sadness at Geelani’s passing.

“We might not have agreed on most things but I respect him for his steadfastness & standing by his beliefs,” she said.

She prayed for Geelani and conveyed her condolences to Geelani’s family and well wishers.

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