India charges Syed Ali Geelani's family under draconian anti-terror law

Family accused of 'raising anti-national slogans and resorting to other anti-national activities'


AFP September 05, 2021

The family of iconic Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Geelani has been charged under a draconian anti-terrorism law for chanting pro-freedom slogans and wrapping his body with Pakistan's flag after he died, officials said.

Protests erupted in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) since Geelani died on Wednesday at the age of 92 in the capital city of Srinagar.

Police in the occupied territory said a case under the so-called Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) — which effectively allows people to be held without trial indefinitely —was registered on Saturday against Geelani's family.

Read more: PM Imran blasts BJP govt for registering case against Geelani's family

The family were accused of "raising anti-national slogans and resorting to other anti-national activities" at the influential resistance leader's home soon after his death.

His son Naseem Geelani did not deny the allegations but repeated earlier claims that police took his father's body away to be buried in the middle of the night just hours after his death, and did not allow the family to perform last rites.

Police have refuted those allegations.

"We told the visiting police officers that they had taken control of everything after my father's death and that we were mourning. We had no way of knowing who was doing what," the son told AFP on Sunday.

Also read: Geelani’s quiet funeral

A video widely shared on social media showed the leader's body wrapped in a Pakistani flag before police officers took it away amid a scuffle with his family members.

Chants of "we want freedom" were heard in the background during the mayhem.

Prime Minister Imran Khan came down hard on the Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for snatching the body and registering a case against the family.

The premier said on Twitter that it was "another shameful example of India’s descent into fascism under the Nazi-inspired RSS-BJP govt".

Authorities on Sunday eased a lockdown imposed to maintain calm after his death across the IIOJK, allowing for limited movement. An internet and mobile phone shutdown was partially eased on Saturday.

Geelani, one of the most popular figures in the region, spent over five decades fighting for self-determination for people in IIOJK.

Pakistan observed a day of national mourning after Geelani's death and funeral prayers for the leader were held across Pakistan and in Turkey.

In Srinagar, Indian troops are guarding Geelani's grave and no one is allowed to approach it.

Anger has simmered in the territory since 2019 when New Delhi controversially revoked the occupied region's semi-autonomy and brought it under direct rule.

Residents in the Muslim-majority region say repression has intensified in the two years since the changes.

India has used the vaguely-worded UAPA legislation against thousands of Kashmiri residents, journalists and dissidents, according to activists.

Freedom fighters have been fighting Indian forces for decades, demanding independence for the territory or its merger with Pakistan.

Tens of thousands have died in the fighting, mostly civilians.

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