Srinagar: Veteran Kashmiri leader and iconic figure in the separatist political camp Syed Ali Shah Geelani died in captivity at his Hyderpora residence here on Wednesday night. He was 92.
Geelani’s death plunged Kashmir into mourning and prompted authorities to impose restrictions, including suspension of internet services in the Valley.
Geelani was suffering from multiple ailments and had been under house arrest since 2016.
He had earlier undergone seven surgeries, including two for Carcinoma at Mumbai’s Tata Memorial Hospital.
Family sources told Kashmir Observer that Geelani developed serious chest complications on Wednesday afternoon and breathed his last at 10.35 PM.
Separatist patriarch’s rumours of death had been often making rounds on social media over last many years and on 12 March 2014, rumours of Geelani’s death led the then J&K government to suspend internet and cell phone services.
A strong votary of Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan Geelani however was often at odds with successive Pakistani governments over their Kashmir policies.
Geelani was a staunch critic of the sporadic but failed attempts at dialogue between Hurriyat Conference and New Delhi and even bilateral engagements between India and Pakistan.
The veteran politician was jailed for nearly 10 years after 1962 and often restricted to his home after that.
Geelani, considered a hardliner among the separatist camp, survived 12 assassination attempts in last 30 years, according to close associates of the leader.
Geelani stood apart among Hurriyat leaders insiting on seeking resolution of the Kashmir dispute under the aegis of the United Nations.
Geelani opposed the then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf when the latter climbed down on Islamabad’s traditional stance on Kashmir and proposed a four-point formula to resolve the Kashmir issue.
Born on 29 September 1929 in Zurimanz, in North Kashmir Geelani served as a government teacher before taking a plunge into politics. He was elected to state Assembly from Sopore thrice serving as an MLA from the North Kashmir constituency in 1972, 1977 and in 1987.
Geelani was head of political bureau of Jama’at-e-Islami Kashmir but later on quit the Islamist party and founded his own Tehreek-e-Hurriyat. He served as the chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference twice but quit the conglomerate in June 2020.
Meanwhile, police announced imposition of curbs on the public movement amid “apprehensions of law and order situation”.
“Restrictions imposed including suspension of internet services in the Valley,” IGP Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said.
One report attributed to IGP Vijay Kumar said that only close relatives will be allowed to visit the bereaved family. There was however no word whether mass funeral of Geelani will be allowed by the authorities which is scheduled at 12 PM on Thursday. Late night unconfirmed reports said authorities were persuading family to go for mid night burial to avoid mass outpouring.
All routes leading to Geelani residence at Rehmat Abad, Hyderpora had been sealed off by paramilitary forces, eyewitnesses told Kashmir Observer.
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