Top Kashmiri separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani died on Wednesday night. He was 92.
As quickly as information of his demise started to make the rounds within the disputed Himalayan area, authorities blocked the web and deployed a whole lot of troops in the principle metropolis of Srinagar to forestall a mass funeral procession or protests in opposition to Indian rule.
His household instructed Al Jazeera the police “snatched his body and forcibly buried him” in a quiet pre-dawn funeral on Thursday.
New Delhi had causes to be apprehensive: For many years, Geelani was the symbol of standard resistance for the Kashmiris who both wish to carve an impartial nation out of the Himalayan territory or merge with neighbouring Pakistan.
Until June final 12 months, Geelani headed the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), an umbrella group of varied Kashmiri political and spiritual teams shaped in 1993 to spearhead a motion for the area’s proper to self-determination.
The Himalayan area of Kashmir has lengthy been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan, with the 2 nuclear powers claiming the area in full however administering separate components.
Kashmiri rebels have been combating in opposition to Indian rule since 1989. Most Kashmiris help the insurgent aim of merging the area with Muslim-majority Pakistan or creating an impartial nation.
New Delhi accuses Pakistan of sponsoring Kashmiri fighters, a cost Islamabad denies. Tens of hundreds of civilians, rebels and authorities troopers have been killed within the battle.
Geelani was born in 1929 right into a poor household in Zoorimunz village in Indian-administered Kashmir’s Bandipora district within the north.
He studied in native faculties and later within the present Pakistani metropolis of Lahore beneath the tutelage of Mullah Saeed Masoodi, a detailed confidante of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.
Referred to as “Sher-e-Kashmir” (Lion of Kashmir), Abdullah was the founder chief of the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference and the primary elected prime minister of Indian-administered Kashmir after its accession to India in 1947.
‘Loss to the society’
In the Nineteen Fifties, Geelani joined Jamaat-e-Islami, the area’s largest political-religious organisation that shared ideological affinity with the Muslim Brotherhood motion in Egypt. The organisation was banned by India’s Hindu nationalist authorities in 2019.
Geelani had been a thorn in India’s facet for the reason that early Nineteen Sixties when he started campaigning for the Muslim-majority territory’s merger with Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Geelani was jailed for almost 10 years in 1962 and after that was typically restricted to his dwelling. He contested and gained a number of regional elections and misplaced one election for the Indian parliament.
“I have heard his addresses in assembly when I was in opposition. He was a young man. He had a good hold on Urdu and his style and knowledge was intense,” senior Congress politician Saif Ud Din Soz instructed Al Jazeera.
“He had a deep knowledge of Quran. He used to talk about social, political and religious issues… He was very well educated.”
“It is a loss to the society despite me having many disagreements with ideology”.
Three many years of armed rise up in opposition to Indian rule noticed Geelani transition from a three-term legislator for his dwelling constituency in Sopore to turning into a “spiritual leader” of Hizbul Mujahideen, an armed group that desires the area’s merger with Pakistan.
In many songs sung and slogans raised by the insurgent group, Geelani was the central character.
‘He confronted both’ India and Pakistan
In a well-known transfer in 2005, Geelani rejected then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s four-point answer to the Kashmir dispute.
Musharraf had proposed joint management of the Himalayan area between India and Pakistan and elevated entry to commerce and journey between the areas managed by the 2 nations.
“When he felt that General Parvez Musharraf was inclined to compromise, he bluntly opposed him and he continuously, without any hesitation kept on resisting the Indian rule,” tutorial and political analyst Dr Sheikh Showkat Hussain instructed Al Jazeera in February final 12 months.
Moves like that made Geelani standard among the many lots in Indian-administered Kashmir compared with outstanding leaders equivalent to Sheikh Abdullah, whose legacy, in line with specialists, was compromised.
Hussain stated Geelani “espoused the (Kashmiri) cause for a long time” when Abdullah had “abandoned it”.
“Unlike Sheikh Abdullah who, despite rendering huge sacrifices, made his first mistake in 1947 by opting a wrong track,” he stated.
“I feel he tried to perpetuate the flame of Kashmir aspiration when almost every actor in Kashmiri had lost hope and abandoned to espouse the cause of freedom,” Hussain added.
“Usually, the politicians in Kashmir were obliged to side either by the Indian or Pakistani governments. But he confronted both and that added to his stature.”
After stepping down from the hardline faction of the APHC, Geelani handed over management to his deputy Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, who died in police custody earlier this 12 months whereas in detention beneath the Public Safety Act (PSA), a controversial regulation beneath which an individual may be detained for a 12 months with out trial.
‘He did his work’
Most of the separatist teams in Indian-administered Kashmir equivalent to Hurriyat have been in disarray since India started its crackdown following an assault on Indian forces in Pulwama in February 2019.
The suicide assault, blamed on a Pakistan-based armed group of Kashmiri rebels, led to the mass arrests of the area’s leaders, together with from the non secular group Jamaat-e-Islami and the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).
The teams had been banned by New Delhi for “harbouring secessionist ideology”.
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authorities scrapped the area’s partial autonomy in August 2019, most of the area’s pro-independence – and even pro-India – politicians had been arrested and booked beneath stringent legal guidelines.
For greater than a decade, Geelani was beneath detention and confined to his dwelling regardless of his a number of illnesses. He was solely allowed to go to hospitals.
A police automobile was completely stationed exterior his residence in the principle metropolis of Srinagar.
His continued detention and relentless defiance in opposition to Indian rule earned him an enormous following in India’s solely Muslim-majority area. He used to concern shutdown and protest calendars throughout the mass uprisings in 2008, 2010 and 2016.
But within the aftermath of the scrapping of the area’s particular standing two years in the past, accompanied by an enormous crackdown and restrictions, Geelani maintained an uncommon silence.
For the primary time in current many years, no assertion got here from Geelani and there have been no formal shutdown calls. His shut associates attributed the silence to his failing well being.
After a extreme chest an infection in 2014, Geelani’s well being deteriorated, however he continued to take care of a robust grip on his political conglomerate.
Geelani’s household remembers him for his steadfastness for the trigger. He rejected any direct talks with New Delhi till it “accepts Kashmir as a disputed territory”. All Indian governments since independence in 1947 have insisted on the nation’s sovereignty over all of Kashmir.
“His persistence and his faithful stance is the only thing that kept us going. I think he didn’t choose the life for himself, he cared about people. He always did what he believed was right,” one of his relations, who didn’t wish to be named, instructed Al Jazeera.
Kashmiri political analyst Siddiq Wahid stated Geelani grew to become “the very symbol of resistance” within the final many years of his life.
“His gift to us was one of successfully piercing the carapace of insincerity that shielded government of India’s policies in Jammu and Kashmir. He did his work.”