Article: Syed Ali Geelani: The Man and the mystique

Amjed Jaaved

Syed Ali Shah Geelani was born in Zurimanj village (Bandipora tehsil), in the Baramulla district of North Kashmir on September 29, 1929. He died on 1st September 2021while under house arrest (Aug 5, 2019 until September 1, 2021) for over a decade. Freedom lovers including Kashmiri Diaspora in different countries have decided to commemorate his death anniversary in a befitting manner.

His house remained heavily barricaded until his death. He was denied access to the internet and other communication facilities. Geelani’s passport was seized in 1981. Though he suffered from renal cancer, he was not allowed to travel abroad for treatment.

When he died, Indian forces whisked away his dead body and buried it at a deserted place. That’s why Kashmiris regard his death as a custodial killing.

Vision and struggle

Gilani was a farsighted leader. He never compromised on the demand for self-determination. He even opposed Pervez Musharraf’s “innovative” proposals for resolving the Kashmir dispute. He understood that India wants to change the demography of the disputed state. He also realised that India’s draconian laws, meant for nabbing timber mafia, would be applied to freedom lovers to stifle their voice. He vehemently opposed these laws particularly the Public Safety Act.

He was a symbol of indomitable resistance. During his incarceration in Indian jails, he was subjected to physical and mental torture.

Gilani played an active role in the formulation of the Muslim United Front (MUF) in 1987 ahead of provincial elections, against pro-India parties, including National Conference. However, only four platform candidates, including Gilani, managed to secure seats due to rigging. Gilani, along with three other winners, was jailed by India.

In 1992, the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference (APHC) was set up. It was meant to serve as a platform for 30 pro-freedom parties.

In August 2004, Gilani along with Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai launched Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (Movement of Freedom). He spearheaded mass civil uprisings post-2008.

In 2010 he led the movement against the killing of three civilians in a fake encounter along the LoC in the Machil area of Kupwara district by Indian forces. In 2016 Gilani, along with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik organized protests against the killing of Burhan Wani by Indian forces.

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