Kashmir's prominent separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, passed away on Wednesday evening, September 1, at 92. He was suffering from prolonged illness.
In March 2018, he had suffered a cardiac arrest and had been hospitalised.
Reportedly, he was bedridden for years. The last rites took place near his residence in Hyderpora, Srinagar. The police have deployed high security outside his residence, and internet services have also been shut, along with mobile phone services, except BSNL, reported NDTV.
Geelani had been under house detention for more than a decade. The hardcore Islamist leader has been the representative of separatist politics in Jammu and Kashmir.
He had resigned from politics and the Hurriyat last year but was a huge force in Kashmir politics.
Several leaders, including former Chief Minister and People's Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti, conveyed their condolences.
Pakistan-based representative of Geelani, Abdullah Geelani, also expressed his shock over Geelani's death, "As per his will, he would be buried at the martyrs' cemetery in Srinagar. The timing of the funeral would be announced later."
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said the country would observe official mourning, and the country's flag will fly half-mast.
Geelani was born on September 29, 1929, at Zurmanz, a village near Wular lake in Bandipore. He was a teacher by profession but later switched to politics under the guardianship of Maulana Mohammad Sayeed Masoodi, a senior National Conference (NC) leader.
Later, he became a member of Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir, a socio-religious organisation that considered the valley as an 'unfinished agenda"' of partition, The Indian Express reported.
He founded and chaired the Hurriyat Conference on March 9, 1993 - an alliance of 26 political, social and religious organisations. It has historically been viewed positively by Pakistan as it contests the claim of the Indian government over the Union Territory.
He did support the Union Territory's merger with Pakistan. The neighbouring country also awarded him with the highest civilian honour, Nishan-e-Pakistan.
Formed Separate Political Party
He contested his first Assembly elections in 1972 and represented Sopore in the Baramulla district till 1987 after militancy got a stronghold in the valley.
The Islamist leader was also one of four candidates of the Muslim United Front (MUF), a political amalgam of social and religious organisations, which partnered with the NC-Congress to set off militancy in the valley.
Though he was an executive member of the Hurriyat Conference, he did not share the same views on militancy and ideology about Kashmir with his colleague. So, he parted ways in 2004 and formed his political outfit, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.
There was a muddle between the Hurriyat members and the National Investigation Agency (NIA). the government agency accused a couple of separatist leaders and Hurriyat members of receiving funds from Pakistan to create unrest in the valley.
Geelani, along with others, was named in the charge sheet filed. In 2019, the agency also conducted raids at his son's residence in connection with the case.
Left The Party
Geelani quit the separatist body last year, after 27 years of association. Officials told NDTV it happened after he was sidelined by Pakistan and its army intelligence, the ISI.
The party was succeeded by deputy Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, who died in custody in Jammu jail this year.
In 2019, he had condemned the Indian government for scrapping the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and accused the Centre of conspiring against him and affecting the separatist movement.