Kashmir locked; internet shutdowns, curfews imposed, as separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani is buried in Srinagar.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who died late Wednesday at age 92, was buried in a quiet funeral organized by authorities under harsh restrictions, his son Naseem Geelani told The Associated Press. He said the family had planned the burial at the main martyrs’ graveyard in Srinagar, the region’s main city, as per his will but were denied by police.
“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,” said Naseem Geelani.
The Press Trust of India news agency reported that officials buried Geelani’s body and disallowed any mass funeral in anticipation of protests.
Stringent restrictions have been imposed in Sopore district, the area from where he belonged. Security forces have been deployed in strength at vulnerable places for maintaining law and order according to the government. Mobile internet was shut down in Kashmir valley as a precautionary step, anticipating rumors which could trigger emotional reactions.
After Syed Ali Geelani’s death, a senior police officer urged people not to panic and ‘avoid movement towards Srinagar’. He was buried in Srinagar’s Hyderpora area early morning at 4:37 am on Thursday.
Syed Ali Geelani, was a pro-Pakistan supporter who created the separatist movement in Jammu and Kashmir for over three decades,
The 92-year-old leader had been suffering from kidney disease for over two decades, besides having other age-related issues, including dementia. According to one of his family members, Geelani breathed his last at 10.30 pm on Wednesday.
A three-time MLA in the erstwhile state from Sopore, Geelani had essentially become the face of the separatist movement in the 2008 Amarnath land row, 2010 agitation sparked by the killing of a youth in Srinagar.
Shortly after the news broke in Kashmir, scores of Kashmiris gathered at his home in the Hyderpora neighborhood to mourn the death of Geelani, who remained under house arrest much of the time since 2008.
He was the founder member of the Hurriyat Conference but broke away and formed his own Tehreek-e-Hurriyat in early 2000. He finally bid farewell to his own Hurriyat Conference in June 2020.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti tweeted saying that she was saddened by the news of his death. “We may not have agreed on most things but I respect him for his steadfastness and standing by his belief…”
People’s Conference (PC) chairman Sajad Lone said, “Heartfelt condolences to the family of Syed Ali Shah Geelani Sahib. Was an esteemed colleague of my late father. May Allah grant him Jannat.”
Geelani is buried at the place of his choice in the neighborhood of Hyderpora in the outskirts of the city. His passport was seized in 1981 and never returned, barring an exception in 2006 to facilitate him to perform Hajj pilgrimage.
Pro-Geelani slogans and messages announcing his death were broadcast over loudspeakers from mosques in Kashmir valley.
A massive police bandobast was seen around Geelani’s residence and the roads leading up to his home were sealed, with no entry to anyone.
A grave was dug 300 meters from #SyedAliGeelani’s residence amid the presence of heavy deployment of the occupational forces.
— HS (@iHShaheen) September 1, 2021