Syed Ali Geelani will long be remembered for his valour and conviction. He passed away on Wednesday at his home in Srinagar. A man of few words, Geelani made history as he stood firm as the sole voice of millions of Kashmiris under Indian occupation. As a separatist leader, he led the freedom movement with prudence and resilience. He was cautious in his approach, and always had a broader perspective in sight, as he espoused the cause of self-determination. The veteran former chief of the Hurriyat Conference was above board and never let his personal ambitions act as an impediment. He spent more than a decade in prison; and the last 15 years of his life languishing under house arrest, but never succumbed. He upheld the torch of emancipation, and tirelessly worked for a noble cause by espousing peaceful protests. He was a believer in dialogue, but never budged from his stance when it came to morals and principles. This is what makes Geelani a legend, and a role model till the day his dream of Kashmir’s liberation is realised.
Geelani started his political career as an activist of Jamaat-e-Islami, and rose as a cardinal figure in the occupied territory by virtue of his outspokenness for Kashmir. He was an ardent supporter of Pakistan, and campaigned for Kashmir’s merger with it. As a member of the Kashmir Assembly, he zealously pursued his separatist movement, and had to face the wrath of the state. He was elected for life as chairman of the 24-party APHC, which was a tribute to his selfless services. He was 90 years’ old when New Delhi took the extraordinary illegal measure of abrogating Article 370 and 35-A, but he had the determination to fight on. He was quick to issue a five-point programme of action for resistance against the Indian government and called upon Kashmiris worldwide to stand up. He looked up to Pakistan always in awe. His manifesto was unity among Kashmiris; for which he lived and died. New Delhi’s iron-handed tactics even on his passing, by obstructing his funeral, has confirmed the late leader’s indomitable spirit and vision to expose the ugly face of so-called Indian secularism. This makes Geelani immortal.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2021.
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