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Saturday, 04 February 2023
Syed Ali Geelani; The Stalwart of Kashmir’s Freedom Movement

Syed Ali Geelani; The Stalwart of Kashmir’s Freedom Movement

By Shahid Shah 


“Do not give up on freedom. Zulm chu ne poshaan! (Oppression does not last!)”
- Syed Ali Shah Geelani


Syed Ali Geelani was born in Zurmunz in Bandipore on 29 September 1929. He was educated at Sopore, and finished his studies at the Oriental College, Lahore (Pakistan). He began his political career in 1950. He remained associated with Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir for the most part of his life but later founded his own party, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Jammu and Kashmir.


He led the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) until late June 2020, when he finally had to retire from the duty of leading the pro-freedom amalgam due to his worsening health condition. He was elected to the Kashmir Legislative Assembly in 1972, 1977 and 1987.


He was imprisoned in 1962 for the first time for his active pro-freedom role. After his release, the Jama‘at (Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir) (JIJK) appointed him as its General Secretary. He was again arrested in 1965, this time spending twenty-two months behind bars. Since then, he spent more than 12 significant years of his life in Indian and Kashmiri prisons.


On 17 occasions between Oct 1995 and June 2000, Syed Ali Geelani and his family members were directly targeted by Indian security forces the harrowing incidents include bomb blasts, rocket / grenade attacks directed at his home (which has been severely damaged several times), intimidation by sustained gunfire. Similarly, All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leaders were also the victims of such attacks.


Syed Ali Geelani’s passport was seized by the Indian authorities in 1981 due to his pro-freedom activities. Except for Hajj pilgrimage in 2006, he was never allowed to go abroad. He was diagnosed with renal cancer during the same year. As the doctors advised his treatment from abroad, the Indian authorities returned Syed Ali Geelani’s passport to his son. In 2007, his condition worsened and a surgery was advised. He was set to travel either to the UK or the US. However, his visa request was rejected by the American government and instead he had to go to Mumbai for the surgery.


On 6 March 2014, Syed Ali Geelani fell ill with severe chest infection. He had been under house arrest since 2010. In May 2015, he applied for passport to visit his daughter in Saudi Arabia but Narendra Modi-led fascist Indian government didn’t entertain his application.


Syed Ali Geelani remained at the forefront of the Kashmiri struggle for right to self-determination, all along his lifetime, and advocated the resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the Kashmiris’ aspirations and the right to self-determination enshrined in the UN Security Council’s Resolution 47, adopted on 21 April, 1948, and on 5 Jan, 1949, which stated that “The question of the accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India or Pakistan will be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite”.


Syed Ali Geelani was a staunch opponent of Indian illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir and his stand on the Kashmir dispute invited the wrath of the Indian authorities. He staunchly advocated Jammu and Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan.


His whole freedom struggle was to get independence from India and accession with Pakistan. According to him, “Kashmiris could only find azadi by joining Pakistan”. In his book Nava-e-Hurriyat, he declares, “There can be no two opinions on the fact that the entire struggle of the Kashmiri people is for the sake of Islam and for accession to Pakistan.”


Syed Ali Geelani died when he was under house arrest in his Hyderpura residence on 1st September 2021. Immediately after the news of the death of Syed Ali Geelani, announcements were made from mosques in Srinagar, in which people were asked to leave their homes to pay tribute to the prominent leader. However, the Indian authorities deployed tens of thousands of Indian troops and paramilitary personnel, suspended internet and mobile phone services, imposed the toughest military siege and communication closure.


When the deceased was wrapped in Pakistani flag and the funeral-goers chanted slogans in favor of independence and in favor of Pakistan, Indian forces raided the residence midnight, tortured his family and forcibly snatched the body.


Syed Ali Geelani will continue to be the source of inspiration for anyone struggling to get freedom rights. His struggles for the rights of Kashmiris will be remembered forever.

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