[By: Mohammad Umar Butt]
Born in a Bandipora village and brought up in Sopore of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIoJK), Shaheed Syed Ali Gilani completed his higher education from Oriental College Lahore, with a focus on various languages.
He later on authored at least 34 books. His significant works include translation into Urdu and commentary on Allama Iqbal’s Persian poetry.
The lifetime chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and former head of Jamaat-e-Islami and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, Gilani remained illegally detained at his Hyderpora house for 10 years since October 2010.
People in IIOJK and world over are observing the first martyrdom anniversary of the iconic leader with the renewal of the pledge that the candle of resistance for freedom that he lit won’t be allowed to extinguish no matter how violent and strong the winds of Indian oppression and the changing geo-political situations come into effect.
The death of Syed Ali Gilani under house detention has further elevated his stature among the Kashmiris. The veteran leader was regarded as an epitome of dedication and sacrifice to inspire the struggling people of the territory. He was a symbol of indomitable resistance. During his incarceration in Indian jails, he was subjected to physical and mental torture.
There is no denying the fact that Kashmiris have lost a great leader in the form of Gilani. He, on the basis of his vision and foresight guided Kashmiris towards a path that heads towards a certain promising future i.e. freedom from Indian subjugation. Gilani was crystal clear in his understanding that slavery was worse than death so Kashmiri people must struggle for freedom from Indian slavery that would result in freedom of Kashmir from India.
Syed Ali Gilani considered Kashmir as part of Pakistan on the basis of logic and reasoning. He firmly believed that Muslims are a complete separate nation keeping in view their religion, civilization, culture, customs and thought. He believed that their unity was based on the concept of Muslim Ummah and not their homeland, race, language, colour or economic system. This thought was the basis of his ideology that Kashmir is part of Pakistan. He was staunch advocate of Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan and had given a strong slogan to cultivate spirit of belonging with Pakistan among Kashmiri people. His slogan ‘Hum Pakistani hain, Pakistan Hamara hai’ (We are Pakistanis and Pakistan is ours) has become famous slogan for Kashmiris and is resounding in every nook and cranny of occupied territory.
Gilani’s sacrifices for the freedom struggle would be remembered always. He followed the path which he believed was right and become a very strong symbol of resistance for Kashmir and for people struggling for freedom across the world.
All and sundry, Indians and Pakistanis, and those who engaged on Kashmir from western world, considered Shaheed Gilani honest, committed and dedicated, who never compromised on his stance of freedom from India.
For many young Kashmiri people, Gilani was compared to Omar Mukhtar, the Libyan freedom fighter who fought Italian occupiers but never compromised.
A symbol of the Kashmiri freedom movement, Syed Ali Gilani attained martyrdom, under illegal house detention, on September 01, 2021 in IIOJK.