Kashmir under Lockdown after Syed Ali Geelani Dies

September 03, 2021

Following the death of iconic pro-independence leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Indian authorities closed down the Kashmir Valley and imposed a complete blackout in the valley on Thursday. Geelani, who died on Wednesday at the age of 92, had been a source of danger in India’s side since the early 1960s, when he began campaigning for the consolidation of the portion of Kashmiri territory managed by India with Pakistan.

The senior politician and former chief of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference was imprisoned for nearly ten years beginning in 1962 and was frequently confined to his home in Srinagar after that. “My father died at 10 p.m., and then prohibitions were sanctioned,” Naseem Geelani, Geelani’s son, told Arab News.

The family and followers of the Kashmiri strain icon had scheduled to bury him at Srinagar’s main Martyrs’ Graveyard, but security services forcefully removed his body. “We have many relatives in various parts of Kashmir, and I told the security forces to let us wait until the morning for the funeral, but they used force and said the funeral had to be done quickly,” Geelani’s son said.

“They snagged the body, and when the women refused, they behaved badly and took the body forcibly at 3:13 a.m.” The family was also forced to attend Geelani’s funeral, as he was buried by police at a local graveyard in Hyderpora, about 300 meters from his home. “It is truly heartbreaking”. “Because everything was already closed, a decent funeral in the existence of family and friends could have been organized. Last rites are important from a religious standpoint.”

After learning of Geelani’s death on Wednesday night, security forces reacted quickly and began boarding up Srinagar, Kashmir’s main city, and local mosques urged people to come to the streets to pay their final respects. On Wednesday night, Kashmir Police Inspector General Vijay Kumar told the media that prohibitions would be placed across Kashmir, and that the internet would be “cut” and that “nobody will be enabled to interrupt peace.”

Authorities would not say how long the prohibitions would be in effect. Many in Kashmir compare the situation to the “black day” of August 5, 2019, when New Delhi repealed Article 370 of the Constitution, essentially ending Kashmir’s autonomy. During a crackdown on political campaigning, the region’s entire city was placed under lockdown and connectivity blackout for months. Hundreds of political leaders have also been detained.

Aijaz Ahmad, a Srinagar resident said, “Thursday is just about felt like August 5, 2019, when Kashmir’s were made inmates in their own homes for months”. Geelani was a symbol of Kashmiri resistance and the unchallenged leader of the APHC, the international organization for the majority of pro-independence Kashmiri groups. “Over the last three decades, he has appeared as a form of resistance,” said Siddiq Wahid, a political and international affairs expert based in Srinagar.

He stated that Geelani’s influence would live on and that the political space he had established would not be lost with his death. The tentative burial revealed the government’s “sense of vulnerability”. “It is impossible to crush people’s emotions, and perception is what it is. When emotions are not allowed to be expressed, pressure builds up which I believe is the danger.”

People were outraged when Security forces excluded them from paying their last respects to Geelani, a symbol of dissent against India. Altaf Hussain, a journalist and political analyst based in Srinagar said, “There is a lot of resentment among the people, and the refusal of political realm for people to express their political views further creates division in the valley”. At the time “Geelani was Kashmir’s tallest leader.”

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