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Veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani passes away; J&K govt imposes curfew, snaps internet


Ishfaq-ul-Hassan

SRINAGAR–Veteran Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani passed away on Wednesday after a prolonged illness. He was 92.

Jammu and Kashmir government has imposed curfew-like restrictions as a precautionary measure to avoid any trouble. Mobile internet too has been suspended as a precautionary measure.

“Restrictions imposed including suspension of internet services in the Valley,” IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar said.

The 92-year-old veteran Hurriyat leader was no keeping well for a long time. He was mostly placed under house detention to prevent him from leading any protest march. 

“Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un (Indeed, to Allah we belong and to Allah, we shall return”, his son Syed Naseem Geelani wrote on Facebook.

In 2017, Mirpur University of Science and Technology (MUST) in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) conferred him with the honorary doctorate for his contribution to Kashmir cause and literary prowess.

Born in Sopore on September 29, 1929, Geelani spent several years in jail for his political beliefs. He developed serious health complications in Ranchi jail prompting the then chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to shift him to a hospital in Mumbai for treatment in 2002. 

An acclaimed orator and writer, he has penned over 50 books and booklets in Urdu. It includes three volumes of his autobiography Wular Kinaray (on the banks of Wular). The first volume was released in 2011, a year after he led the civil unrest in Kashmir.

Geelani in his autobiography confessed that Pro-India National Conference stalwart Moulana Mohammad Sayeed Masoodi, who was assassinated by Pakistan-trained militants in 1990, was like a father, teacher, and mentor who helped him to gain education and overcome depressing times despite his divergent political ideology.

Geelani spent four years in Mujahid Manzil, the National Conference headquarter before he became a government teacher which he eventually left after he joined Jamaat-e-Islami.  “It was Maulana who helped in earning different degrees. In fact, he arranged an English teacher for me and I passed my FA (matriculation). Even he wanted me to do MA. He also got me job as a teacher in a government school”, he wrote in his autobiography.

Geelani bade goodbye to Mujahid Manzil after he joined Jamaat-e-Islami. He wrote that leaders of NC were not inclined to see an opponent to be living in their backyard.

 After his difference with Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir, he founded Tehreek-e-Hurriyat. He served as Chairman of united All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a conglomerate of various separatist parties.  In September 2003, Hurriyat Conference split after he accused People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone of fielding proxy candidates in 2002 assembly polls.

A three-time MLA, Geelani represented Sopore constituency in 1972,  1977, and 1987.  “Saddened by the news of Geelani Sahab’s passing away. We may not have agreed on most things but I respect him for his steadfastness & standing by his beliefs. May Allah Ta’aala grant him Jannat & condolences to his family & well-wishers,” Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister tweeted

Sajad Lone, chairman of Peoples Conference and former minister tweeted: “Heartfelt condolences to the family of Syed Ali Shah Geelani Sahib. Was an esteemed colleague of my late father. May Allah grant him Jannat.”

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced one-day official mourning in the country. “Deeply saddened to learn of the passing away of Syed Ali Shah Geelani…Pakistan flag will fly at half-mast and we will observe a day of official mourning,” he tweeted.

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