Syed Ali Shah Geelani
Syed Ali Shah Geelani (29 September 1929 – 1 September 2021) was an Islamist, pro-Pakistan separatist leader in Jammu and Kashmir, regarded as the father of the Kashmiri jihad. He was a member of Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir between 1953 and 2004, and regarded as one of its top leaders. He left Jamaat in 2004 and founded Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, a key constituent of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a conglomeration of separatist parties in Kashmir. Geelani served as the Chairman of the Hurriyat Conference until he quit the group in June 2020. Geelani was also a three-time Member of the Legislative Assembly from the Sopore constituency, elected on a Jamaat-e-Islami ticket in 1972, 1977 and in 1987.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani
|Member of Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly|
|Born||29 September 1929|
Zoori Munz, Kashmir and Jammu, British India
|Died||1 September 2021 (aged 91)|
Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India
|Political party||Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir (until 1993)|
Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (until 2020)
|Education||Bachelor of Arts (Adib-i-Fazil; Munshi Fazil)|
|Alma mater||University of the Punjab|
University of Jammu and Kashmir
Syed Ali Geelani was born in 1929 in a village called Zurimanj, in the Bandipora tehsil (now Sopore tehsil), in the Baramulla district of northern Jammu and Kashmir.[a] He was the son of a landless labourer in the canals department. Geelani was educated partly in Sopore and the rest in Lahore, Punjab, British India. He studied in a madrasa attached to the Masjid Wazir Khan and later enrolled in the Oriental College. He completed Adib 'Alim, a course in Islamic theology.
Returning to Kashmir after studies in Lahore, Geelani became active in the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference. He was appointed the secretary of the party unit in Zurimanz. In 1946, during the Quit Kashmir movement of the National Conference, he came in contact with Maulana Sayeed Masoodi, the general secretary of the National Conference, who took a liking to him and made him a reporter to the party newspaper Akhbar-i-Khidmat.
Masoodi also sponsored further studies for Geelani, who completed an adib-i-fazil course in Urdu and other courses in Persian and English. After this, he took a job as a school teacher, first at Pathar Masjid and later at Rainawari in Srinagar. Here he came in contact with Saaduddin Tarabali, a follower of the Jamaat-e-Islami founder Maulana Abul A'la Maududi. Maududi advocated a hardline Islamist ideology, whereby Islam had to be the foundation of the entire political order. Geelani had borrowed a book of Maududi from the local book store, which made a deep impression upon him. He was to later say, Maududi had "beautifully.. expressed the feelings that lay deep down in my own heart". The National Conference headquarters, Mujahid Manzil, where Geelani apparently stayed, soon began to be seen as "a den of Pakistanis".
Geelani was soon moved out of Srinagar, and he came to work in the Intermediate College in Sopore. He stayed in this position for six years. During this time, he was reading the literature of Jamaat-e-Islami and conveying its contents to his students in lectures. He also addressed congregations in mosques. He had become a full-fledged member of Jamaat in 1952. He remained in Jamaat until 2003, when he was "retired" by the party leadership from the position of their representative.
Geelani has been viewed as a key separatist leader in Kashmir. Omar Abdullah, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, has blamed Geelani for the rise in militancy and bloodshed in Kashmir, while Omar's father and former Union Minister Farooq Abdullah has urged Geelani to follow a path which would "save Kashmiri people from further destruction". In October 2013 he was re-elected for the fourth time to serve three-year term as the chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G), a faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, which split up in 2003. He founded the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat party, to which he was separately reelected as chairman for a three-year term in September 2013.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani received the invitation to participate in the annual meeting of the foreign ministers of member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Kashmir Contact Group to be held in New York from 27 September 2015.
After the death of Burhan Muzaffar Wani and the ongoing 2016 Kashmir Unrest that lasted for five consecutive months, to restore normalcy in Kashmir, Geelani sent a letter to United Nations listing six Confidence Building measures (CBMS).
On 29 November 2010, Geelani, along with writer Arundhati Roy, activist Varavara Rao and three others, was charged under "sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between classes), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 504 (insult intended to provoke breach of peace) and 505 (false statement, rumour circulated with intent to cause mutiny or offence against public peace...) to be read with Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act of 1967". The charges, which carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, were the result of a self-titled seminar they gave in New Delhi, "Azadi-the Only Way" on 21 October, at which Geelani was heckled.
Geelani had appealed to people of Kashmir to boycott the 2014 Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly elections completely, not accepting the proposals for self-rule or autonomy that had been offered by the People's Democratic Party and the then ruling National Conference. But despite repeated boycott appeals, 2014 assembly election recorded record voters' turnout of more than 65% which was highest in 25 years of history. After record voting percentage in Kashmir, Geelani, along with other separatists, were criticised by Indian media for misleading people of Kashmir and for not representing true sentiments of Kashmiri people.
Geelani lived in Hyderpora, Srinagar. Geelani has 2 sons; Nayeem and Naseem, and four daughters; Anisha, Farhat Jabeen, Zamshida, and Chamshida. Anisha and Farhat are Geelani's daughters from his second marriage. Nayeem and his wife are both doctors who used to live and practise medicine in Rawalpindi Pakistan, but they returned to India in 2010. Geelani's younger son, Naseem works at an agricultural university in Srinagar. Geelani's grandson Izhaar is a crew member in a private airline in India. Geelani's daughter Farhat is a madani teacher[clarification needed] in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and her husband is an engineer there. Geelani's other grandchildren are studying in leading schools of India. His cousin Ghulam Nabi Fai is presently in London. Ruwa Shah, daughter of Kashmiri separatist Altaf Ahmad Shah (SAS Geelani's son-in-law) is a journalist. She previously worked as a journalist in India with organisations including the Al Jazeera, IANS, Quint and The Indian Express, since 2014.
Health issues, passport suspension and house arrestEdit
Geelani's passport was seized in 1981 due to accusations of "anti-India" activities. With the exception of his Hajj pilgrimage in 2006, he has not been allowed to leave India.[needs update] He was diagnosed with renal cancer, and advised treatment from abroad in the same year. On the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention, the government returned Geelani's passport to his son. In 2007, his condition worsened, although in the early stages of the cancer, it was life-threatening and surgery was advised. Geelani was set to travel to either the UK or the United States. However, his visa request was rejected by the American government citing his violent approach in Kashmir conflict and he went to Mumbai for surgery. His supporters and family alleged that this was a "human rights violation".
On 6 March 2014, Geelani fell ill with a severe chest infection, shortly after returning to his home in Srinagar. He has been under house arrest for most of the time since 2010, and was put under house arrest again on his return. In May 2015, Geelani applied for passport to visit his daughter in Saudi Arabia. The Indian government withheld it citing technical reasons, including the fact that he deliberately failed to fill in the nationality column required in the application. On 21 July, the Government granted him a passport on humanitarian grounds, with a validity of nine months, after Geelani acknowledged his nationality as an Indian.
On 12 March 2014, rumors of Geelani's death, spread by edits to his Wikipedia entry, "a particular Hindi news channel", and pages on Facebook led the government of Kashmir to suspend internet and phone service, according to some sources. However, the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that the failures had nothing to do with Geelani's health and were due to a snapped power line as well as an optical fibre cut due to heavy snowfall, which left most of the valley without power. The cuts in Internet service, hours after a statement by Hurriyat that Geelani would be flown to New Delhi for medical treatment, were blamed for spreading the rumours.
After the 2019 Pulwama attack, India took stronger action against pro-Pakistan separatists including Geelani. The Enforcement Directorate levied a penalty of ₹14.40 lakh and ordered confiscation of nearly ₹6.8 lakh in connection with a Foreign Exchange Management Act case against him for illegal possession of foreign exchange.
Geelani reportedly developed breathing complications and died around 10:30 p.m. on 1 September 2021 at his Hyderpora residence in Srinagar, due to prolonged illness. His son Nayeem alleged that the police forcibly took away his body and buried it, while they refused to attend the funeral. Dilbag Singh, the Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police, however denied the allegations.
In February 2014 he said prisoners in Kashmir "are the victims of custodial violence and are harassed in Indian jails especially in Tihar Jail" after an incident where parents of Javaid Ahmad Khan, serving a life sentence, "had travelled thousands of kilometres and invested a lot of money to reach Delhi to meet their jailed son but were denied a meeting with him. "This is state terrorism", he said.
In November 2011, Geelani called for protests against the alleged "objectionable anti-Islamic" content on the social networking website Facebook, which he described as a "satanic audacity". His call triggered protests in various parts of the Kashmir valley, leading to minor clashes between the protestors and the security forces.
Geelani condemned the killing of Osama Bin Laden by the US. After Bin Laden's death in May 2011, Geelani said that he would lead last rite prayers in absentia in Srinagar for the slain al-Qaeda leader. After holding prayers for Osama in congregation of thousands of Kashmiris, a European Union delegation snubbed Geelani by cancelling a scheduled meeting with him. He further supported 2001 Indian Parliament attack accused Afzal Guru and one of 2008 Mumbai Attacks masterminds and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed.
Geelani said that while Pakistan supported "the indigenous struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, morally, diplomatically and politically ... this does not mean Pakistan can take a decision on our behalf."
Geelani would only support a dialogue process aimed at resolving Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of the state. But he believed that dialogue between India and Pakistan starts under diplomatic compulsions, and it is nothing but just a time delaying tactics. He was of the opinion that Kashmiris are not enemies of India or hold any grudge against its inhabitants. We are desirous of a strong India and Pakistan and it is only possible when Kashmir issue is resolved to pave the way for peace, prosperity and development in the region.
He said, "Kashmir is not any border dispute between India and Pakistan which they can solve by bilateral understandings. It is the issue concerning future of 15 million people. The Hurriyat is not in principle against a dialogue process but without involvement of Kashmiri people, such a process has proved meaningless in the past. We don't have any expectations of it being fruitful in future too." He further stated, "India should immediately and unconditionally release political prisoners, and withdraw cases against youth, which are pending in the courts for the past 20 years."
Separatism and relations with PakistanEdit
Geelani has been repeatedly criticised by Indian authorities for inciting violence in the valley and working as offshoot of Pakistan. Geelani said openly that he was not Indian. "Travelling on the Indian passport is a compulsion of every Kashmiri as Kashmir is an Internationally accepted Disputed region between India and Pakistan" are his words when applying for Indian Passport. "We are Pakistani; Pakistan is ours," he said in a big gathering of his supporters.
While Geelani's personal opinion about Kashmir was that it be merged with Pakistan, he stood up against both Indian and Pakistani governments, including former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf, who did not support Kashmiri people's right to self-determination.
Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, a senior leader of Jammu & Kashmir National Conference and son of Sheikh Abdullah criticised Geelani for working on "dictations" given by Pakistan. He accused Geelani of being "a double agent" on "the payroll of Pakistan's ISI".
Pakistan also openly supported Geelani, the three-member delegation from Pakistan High Commission led by Abdul Basit met Geelani at his Malviya Nagar residence in March 2015. Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit assured Geelani of complete support conveying that the country's stand on Kashmir remains unchanged despite regime change in New Delhi. Abdul Basit also invited Geelani for Pakistan Day function on 23 March. Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, ritually invites pro-separatist leadership of Jammu and Kashmir. On 14 August, the Pakistani government awarded him its highest civilian award, the Nishan-e-Pakistan.
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- Dīd o shunīd (transl. Acquaintance), 2005. Compilation based on answers to the various questions relating to Kashmir issue.
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- Sadāʼe dard : majmuvʻah taqārīr (transl. Cry of pain: collection of speeches), 2006. Collection of speeches on Kashmir issue.
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- Maqtal se vāpsī : Rāncī jail ke shab o roz (transl. Back from the gallows: night and day in Ranchi jail), 2008. Autobiographical reminiscences.
- Iqbāl rūḥ-i dīn kā shanāsā (transl. Acquaintance with Iqbal's spirit of religion), 2009. Study on the works of Muhammad Iqbal.
- ʻĪdain (transl. Eids), 2011. Collection of sermons delivered on the occasion of Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Adha, and Friday prayers.
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- Qissa e Dard (transl. Account of pain)
- Muqadma al-haq (transl. Trial of truth)
- Tu baaki nahi (transl. You are no more)
- Mera pyaar aur hai (transl. My love is something else)
- Talkh haqayak (transl. Bitter truth)
- Elaan-e jungbandi (transl. Declaration of armistice)
- Hijrat aur shahadat (transl. Migration and martyrdom)
- Qurbani (transl. Sacrifice)
- Umeed-i bahar (transl. Hope of spring)
- Payam-e aakhreen (transl. The final message)
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- Qaul-e-Faisal (transl. Final judgment)
- 11 September ke baad (transl. After 9/11)
- Rasool-e rahmat aasir-i hazir main (transl. Prophet Muhammad in present times)
- Iqbal apni paygam ki roshni mein (transl. Iqbal in light of his message)
- Shayad ki utar jaaye tere dil mein meri baat (transl. Maybe you will understand me)
- Wa'tasimu bihablillahi jamia (Surah Al Imran Quran 3:103)
- Shadath Gahe Ulfat (transl. Martyred in love)
- Rahravani ishq (transl. Travelers of love)
- Kunu Ansarullah (transl. Willing helpers of Allah)
- Kar-i jahan be-sabaat (transl. Unstable world affairs)
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