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Syed Ali Gilani – a visionary leader

Muhammad Raza Malik

The veteran Hurriyat leader and the icon of freedom movement in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, Syed Ali Gilani, is undoubtedly the tallest personality in the resistance history of Jammu and Kashmir. He embraced martyrdom on 01 September 2021 in Indian police custody at his residence in Srinagar where he was kept under continued house detention for over a decade.

The symbol of valour, courage and resistance against the Indian oppression, the veteran leader all along his life championed the just cause of holding of plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir under the supervision of the United Nations to enable the Kashmiris to decide their future by themselves through the exercise of their right to self-determination. He always advocated resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the Kashmiris’ aspirations and the relevant UN resolutions.

Being a strong voice against India’s illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, Syed Ali Gilani had to face the wrath of the Indian authorities. Due to his principled stand on the Kashmir dispute, the Indian authorities kept him in various jails of India and IIOJK for more than 13 years. He was subjected to physical and mental torture during his imprisonment but he never compromised his stance. Indian rulers were even scared of his dead body. This can easily be judged from the fact that the Indian forces’ personnel snatched away the body of the veteran leader from his family and forcibly buried him in the darkness of the night in a local graveyard at Hyderpora, about 300 metres away from his home – depriving the family from fulfilling his will of burying him at the Martyrs’ Graveyard at Eidgah in Srinagar.

Syed Ali Gilani had foretold in many of his revolutionary and visionary speeches what is in store for Kashmir in the future. He had maintained that New Delhi will bring Indian citizens from Bihar, Rajasthan and other states and permanently settle them in IIOJK to convert the Muslim majority in the territory into a minority. He had stated that when demography will be changed in favour of Hindus in Kashmir like in Jammu then India may concede to plebiscite in the territory. like Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Quaid-e-Kashmir Syed Ali Gilani had also drawn the conclusion from the past events that Hindus would never accept Muslims as an entity in India and a majority population in IIOJK. He knew that the Hindutva forces who conducted massacre of Muslims in Jammu at the time of partition of the sub-continent might repeat the same in the Kashmir Valley, once India is ruled by RSS and its sister organizations.

The illegal and unconstitutional unilateral actions taken by the Narendra Modi-led fascist Indian government on and post August 05, 2019 have proved the veteran leader absolutely right. He had rightly pointed out, before hand, the Indian measures for demographic engineering including land grab and setting up of colonies for Indian soldiers and Kashmiri Pandits, delimitation of Assembly constituencies, and granting of citizenship and voting rights to non-resident Kashmiris in elections. It has now become crystal clear that the Modi regime may accept the plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir once its settler plan is accomplished.

Syed Ali Gilani remained an ardent advocate of Jammu and Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan throughout his life. It was he who coined the famous slogan ‘Hum Pakistani Hain, Pakistan Hamara Hai (we are Pakistanis and Pakistan is our country)’. Now this slogan keeps on echoing in the Kashmir Valley. Pakistan President Dr Arif Alvi had conferred Nishan-i-Pakistan, the country’s highest civil award, on Syed Ali Gilani on 14 August 2020 in recognition of his decades-old struggle for Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.

The leader of masses, a crowd puller, an intellectual, deep thinker, visionary, brilliant and an articulate scholar and most importantly an institution by himself, Syed Ali Gilani will always be remembered for his boldness, fair play, straightforwardness and his oratory skills. Already regarded as an epitome of dedication and sacrifice, the death of Syed Ali Gilani under house detention has further elevated his stature among the Kashmiris. He would continue to be viewed as an icon and great leader who strived for the sacred cause of freedom throughout his life, ultimately sacrificing himself for it. Although he has disappeared physically from the scene, but his sacrifices, contribution and vision for the Kashmir cause will continue to inspire coming generations of Kashmir to carry forward the ongoing struggle for securing freedom from the Indian illegal occupation of their homeland.

(The writer is Senior-Editor at Kashmir Media Service)

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