‘Too Early To Tell What He May Have Wrapped Away With Him’

WHEN the news of the death of Kashmir’s iconic leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani broke, the twilight beckoned with it a potent fury of uncertain possibilities. Even before reactions could ripen, Kashmir streets had already been mobilised by the stern-faced cops trying to make calculated decisions to sense and streamline law and order. Even as the roads wore silence, social media had flared-up with responses and remarks. Interestingly, the fury stayed exclusive to the digital landscape while the alleyways which were once an orchestra of SAG’s politics remained silenced.

So, it was social media that by and large captured the essence of what had passed.

In Spite of past polemics, politicians took no time to issue statements to mark the death of the senior leader. Mehbooba went in first. Interestingly, in 2016, when Kashmir was wrapped under a militant mood, the fortitude man’s vociferous reply against Mehbooba Mufti’s appeal in providing her a chance to address the grievances of people after the bloodbath had extensively damaged any hope of peace among the two rivals. However, now, the fatherly-opponent’s death crushed that wall as Mehbooba tweeted,

“Saddened by the news of Geelani sahab’s passing away. We may not have agreed on most things but I respect him for his steadfastness & standing by his beliefs. May Allah Ta’aala grant him jannat & condolences to his family & well wishers”

Melting yet another ice, Sajad Lone, who had once accused Geelani of making instigating statements that led to his father’s killing, also took to twitter to express his condolence: “Heartfelt condolences to the family of Syed Ali Shah Geelani Sahib. Was an esteemed colleague of my late father. May Allah grant him Jannat.”

Amid all the condolences pouring in from Kashmir, Pakistan paid rich tributes for this senior resistance leader. Notably, Pakistan PM Imran Khan tweeted, “Deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Kashmiri freedom fighter Syed Ali Geelani who struggled all his life for his people & their right to self determination. He suffered incarceration & torture by the Occupying Indian state but remained resolute.” Pakistan also observed a day of mourning on Thursday over SAG’s demise.

While fingers were marching to mark the demise digitally, Kashmir’s journalists, who were out to cover Geelani’s last journey became the first casualty of the fortification on the streets. They too ended up expressing their anguish online.

#Srinagar: press has been disallowed from covering the restricted midnight burial of SAS #Geelani.

Meanwhile, given the remarkable stature that the man, oft castigated by India, had created for himself in the world of Politics; it didn’t take long for experts from mainland India to offer their comments. Senior Journalist Saba Naqvi tweeted,

“Syed Ali Shah Geelani passes away in Srinagar. end of an era. #RIP

However, in the context of the all-too-familiar incommunicado imposed, many from Kashmir called out the double standards of many sections. Journalist Azaan Javaid tweeted, “Delhi editors have been concerned about rights of journalists & freedom of expression in #Afghanistan. In #Kashmir barring reporters from doing their jobs or snapping of communication channels isn’t a violation of  journalistic rights for them.”

Still others tried to comprehend the consequences of the leader’s death on the situation in Kashmir. National Editor of The Telegraph, Sankarshan Thakur said, “Syed Ali Shah Geelani, patron-protagonist of Kashmiri session, has departed. May he rest in peace. Too early to tell what he may have wrapped away with him, what he may have left behind to unravel in the tumultuous geography that was his home.”

As far as Kashmiris went, a part living through the gusts of developments, went off the grid. The others echoed a familiar perennial pang that went like, ““Phone services are shut too. I’m not able to reach anyone in Kashmir. This feels like August 2019 clampdown all over again. Is there a curfew in place?”

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Zaid Bin Shabir

A media graduate from LPU, Zaid Bin Shabir is a Srinagar based journalist whose works have appeared in many local and international publications.

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