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Situation tense as Kashmir mourns Geelani’s demise

09:36 02 September 2021 Author :  

Heavy contingents of Indian police and paramilitary forces were deployed in and around the capital Srinagar soon after news of a top Kashmiri leader's death spread in Indian-administered Kashmir late Wednesday.

Syed Ali Geelani, 91, died around 10 p.m. at his home in uptown Srinagar, where he was under arrest for the better part of the past decade.

Police rushed to announce that restrictions have been imposed in the valley and only family members and close neighbors will be allowed to participate in the funeral prayers, against Geelani’s will, who had wished to be buried in the Martyrs Graveyard – Kashmir’s largest cemetery in the capital.

Geelani's spokesman said on Twitter that authorities have prepared a grave inside a mosque near Geelani's residence in the Hyderpora area.

Kashmir Police Chief Vijay Kumar told reporters in Srinagar that restrictions have been imposed in the region. 

"Only his family and relatives will be allowed to participate in his funeral prayers," he said.

A journalist told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity that he and other reporters were asked by the police to leave the spot.

Yet several native youth managed to reach outside Geelani’s house, where hundreds of forces had been deployed to prevent possible demonstrations.

Reports of pro-freedom sloganeering and announcements urging people to attend the funeral prayers reached from several places.

The demise of Geelani is seen as a major setback to Kashmir’s anti-India resistance as he led several civilian uprisings since early 2000 after a decade of intense armed uprising.

The veteran Kashmiri leader started his political career from Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir, from where he joined All Parties Hurriyat Conference – a grouping of pro-freedom parties in Indian-administered Kashmir which seek right to self-determination.

Later in 2004, he launched Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (Movement for Freedom) along with Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, who died in custody in May.

'Geelani, soul of Kashmir movement'

Condolences poured in on the veteran leader's death from Kashmir and beyond.

Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry, president of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, also known as Azad Kashmir, said Geelani’s death is heart-breaking, and that he was a beacon for Kashmiris.

Masood Khan, Sultan’s predecessor, said Geelani was a “brave and resolute Kashmiri leader.” “People of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan mourn his passing away. So do freedom lovers all over the world,” he said on Twitter.

Abdul Qayyum Niazi, the prime minister of Azad Kashmir, called Geelani a “hero of Kashmiris" and the soul of Kashmir’s freedom movement.”

In Indian-administered Kashmir, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said Geelani “stood for his beliefs.”

“We may not have agreed on most things but I respect him for his steadfastness and standing by his beliefs,” she tweeted.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, army chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa, and Kashmiri rights activist Mushaal Mullick, among others, also shared messages./aa

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