Kashmiris’ resistance against Indian illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir has been going on for the last over seven decades. Many prominent Hurriyat leaders have played an important role in carrying forward this movement. Undoubtedly, veteran leader Syed Ali Gilani is the tallest personality in the resistance history of Jammu and Kashmir and the icon of Kashmir freedom movement. He embraced martyrdom on 01 September 2021 in Indian police custody at his residence in Srinagar where he was kept under continued house detention by the Indian authorities for over a decade.
Syed Ali Gilani was an embodiment of honesty, unwavering resoluteness and struggle, with matchless passion, ideology, and vision about Kashmir. He not only presented the cause of Kashmir with great clarity but also united all the Kashmiri people for that one cherished goal – the freedom of Kashmir and the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination – for which he had to pay a huge price.
The veteran leader is quite rightly regarded as the symbol of valour, courage and resistance against the Indian oppression. Throughout his life, he advocated resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the Kashmiris’ aspirations to be ascertained through the democratic process of holding a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir under the supervision of the United Nations as promised in the Security Council resolutions.
Syed Ali Gilani exhibited the best traits of a real leader by maintaining his principled position on the Kashmir dispute despite being subjected to every kind of political vengeance. He spent several years in various jails for opposing the Indian illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir and demanding freedom, enduring physical and mental torture during his imprisonment. Indian rulers were even scared of his dead body. It is evident from the brutal action of the Indian forces’ personnel, who snatched away his body 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. This brutal action deprived the bereaved family from fulfilling the veteran leader’s will of burying him at the Martyrs’ Graveyard at Eidgah in Srinagar.
The Narendra Modi-led Indian government’s illegal and unconstitutional unilateral actions of August 05, 2019 and subsequent measures showed that how visionary leader Syed Ali Gilani was. In his speeches several years ago, he had warned about the demographic engineering and settler colonial agenda of the Indian government through the land grab and construction of colonies for Indian soldiers and Kashmiri Pandits, delimitation of Assembly constituencies, and granting of citizenship and voting rights to the Indian citizens. The Modi regime as part of this policy is bringing the Indian citizens and permanently settling them in IIOJK to convert the Muslim majority in the territory into a minority.
The present day condition of Muslims in India also proves his predictions true as like Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Quaid-e-Kashmir Syed Ali Gilani had also come to the conclusion that Hindus would never accept Muslims as an entity in India and a majority population in IIOJK. The Hindutva forces involved in the massacre of Muslims in Jammu in 1947 enjoying full support of the Modi government are now openly targeting the Muslims in the Kashmir Valley – the apprehension articulated by the veteran leader long ago.
The inventor of the famous slogan ‘Hum Pakistani Hain, Pakistan Hamara Hai (we are Pakistanis and Pakistan is our country)’ was the ardent advocate of Jammu and Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan. He religiously strived for the accomplishment of this mission throughout his life. This slogan has now become the voice of every Kashmiris’ heart. In the recognition of his decades-old struggle for Kashmiris’ right to self-determination, the Government of Pakistan conferred Nishan-i-Pakistan, the country’s highest civil award, on him on 14 August 2020.
The battle of Syed Ali Gilani will go down in history as a major example of resistance against the Indian illegal rule in IIOJK. His lifelong and unwavering struggle to free his homeland will continue to inspire the coming generation of Kashmir and the oppressed people all over the world in the future.
(The writer is journalist based in Islamabad)