By Muhammad Raafi
Srinagar: As the news about the death of nonagenarian separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani spread across Kashmir, his family received an ‘unusual guest’: Kashmir police chief, Vijay Kumar. Family sources of Geelani said that Kumar visited them at 11 PM.
Kumar told the family that they should ensure minimum participation of people in the funeral prayers owing to covid-19 protocols.
At around 1 in the night, police officials led by local officers came to Geelani’s house and took away his body.
The family claimed that they were not allowed to attend his final rites as officials ‘snatched his body and forcibly buried him’.
Naseem Geelani, a son of the veteran leader said that the police officials snatched Geelani’s body from the family. “Although we resisted,” Naseem said, “but the officials overpowered us.”
The family members said that Geelani had willed that he be buried at Martyrs’ graveyard (Mazar-e-Shuhada) in Downtown Srinagar.
Although scores of people had converged at Geelani’s home to mourn his death, but the police did not let all of them participate in the funeral prayers.
Geelani was 92 and spent last 11 years of his life mostly under house arrest and suffered from various ailments.
Meanwhile, as the police took out Geelani’s body from his home for funeral, the authorities imposed stringent restrictions around the area to thwart attempts of protests. Geelani was buried 300 meters away from his home in the lawns of Jamia Masjid, Hyderpora.
Soon after the news about Geelani’s death broke out, authorities announced a communication blockade and the restriction of public movement. The authorities deployed heavy contingents of police forces to prevent people from participating in Geelani’s funeral.
Barricades and paramilitary personnel were deployed in strength across the valley while civilians were not allowed to commute.
“I had to undergo questioning at least at 10 checkpoints on the highway from Khanabal to Srinagar – a distance of 40 kilometres,” a resident of Anantnag told Kashmir Observer.
Geelani was an ideologue and a staunch proponent of the merger of Kashmir with Pakistan. Over the years, he had repeatedly said no to any talks with New Delhi, asserting that “India can’t be trusted unless it calls Kashmir a disputed territory, demilitarizes the region and releases political prisoners for a meaningful dialogue.”
The position was rejected outright by subsequent Indian governments, and he was often dubbed as a hardline politician.
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