Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the pro-Pakistani, separatist leader of Kashmir took his last breath at his residence in Kashmir. Late Wednesday, living under House arrest for almost a decade, he succumbed to age-related illness at the age of 92. Geelani was infamous for his open support for Pakistan’s rule in Kashmir.
Impunity from State Machinery
Kashmiri separatists were composed of two factions. One side used to commit pen violence against Kashmiri Pandits, and the Indian Armed Forces in the region. This faction mainly included groups like Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Al-Badr, Harkat-ul- Ansar, Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islam, and Jaish-e-Moham- Madi. These groups were the main forces behind the exodus and genocides of Kashmiri Pandits during the 1990s. It was the time when Geelani was the King of Kashmir. Whenever he wanted he would impose a shutdown on poor Kashmiri people. The murders, rapes, and lootings during these shutdowns could never be covered by the media. He used to be the first one to condemn the death of any Kashmiri separatist, but would not say a word when Indian Army soldiers and policemen died. Geelani had created an air of fear in Kashmir Valley.
Unconditional support by the UPA
Geelani being a teacher and a verbally soft separatist was seen by Congress as someone to engage with. Thinking of him as a useful idiot, every Government went on to feed him on state coffers. Over the years, successive Congress Governments made sure that the former MLA keeps getting support from Indian intelligentsia sitting in Lutyens’ and other power blocks of Delhi. Geelani’s surgeries were paid for by the government along with spending summer in Sri Nagar and winter in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar. He resembled India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru when it came to lavish lifestyles. Before Modi Government came into power, he was hailed as a spokesperson of Kashmir separation and was a constant part of media conclaves and delegations advocating for separatism. Even in 2017, the Manishankar Iyer-led delegation went on to meet him, where he made fun of the Indian Army, and Iyer was seen laughing.
In spite of him openly claiming that he was not an Indian, Indian Authorities closed their ears. He had open support from Pakistan and used to constantly wine and dine with Pakistani High Commissioners in Delhi.
Tacit support from State Governments in Kashmir
Meanwhile successive democratic governments in the state had been mum about the ongoing slaughter of poor and helpless Kashmiris by Geelani’s men. Though Abdullahs and Muftis used to criticize Geelani on public forums, it was only lip-service as they had no actionable evidence to prove their seriousness. In fact, Geelani and Abdullahs were so close that, once Chief minister Farooq Abdullah arranged a Helicopter for Geelani to attend the funeral of another separatist Sofi Mohammad Akbar. A similar incident about Mufti’s family closeness to Geelani is evident too when once Mufti Mohammad Sayeed sent a special plane to pick him from Ranch Jail. No matter which government was in power, whether it was National Conference or the People’s Democratic Party, it will not be an exaggeration, if we say Geelani was not above the law, Geelani was the law.
Funding stone pelters and fueling violence
After the rise of insurgent and separatist movements in Kashmir, the youth of Kashmir was left bewildered. Their education, employment opportunities were all snatched by Geelani and other separatists. In this scenario, Geelani saw another demography that could be used to fuel his separatist agenda. With the help of money from ISI, Geelani fueled stone pelting in Kashmir. These stone pelters were given a fixed remuneration by Geelani and ilks for hurling stones at the Indian Army and Kashmiri Police.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s death was expected to bring a wave of chaos in the Kashmir valley, but after the abrogation of Article 370, separatists had lost traction in the valley which was evident in his peaceful burial. He was buried on Thursday in a local graveyard near his uptown Hyderpora residence in Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar city. Meanwhile, the Pakistani Government has announced a day of mourning for their favourite leader. Imran Khan said- the country will observe official mourning and the country’s flag will fly half-mast. Last year Pakistan government awarded him with Nishan-e-Pakistan, the highest civilian honour of the country.