Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday told Hurriyat Conference patriarch Syed Ali Geelani that he was free to move but not beyond his neighbourhood – Hyderpora – in uptown Srinagar.
Geelani was scheduled to join congregational Friday prayers at the Iqra Masjid in Lal Chowk but police and paramilitary men deployed outside his residence-cum-office locked him inside. They said that Geelani was only allowed to offer congregational prayers at the Hyderpora Jamia Masjid, some 100 meters away.
Hurriyat Conference (G) spokesperson Ghulam Ahmad Gulzar told Kashmir Reader, “The police officer informed us that they cannot allow Geelani sahab to proceed to Iqra Masjid due to security reasons.” The policemen were, however, “ready to allow” the octogenarian leader to offer prayers at Jamia Masjid Hyderpora, Gulzar said.
Gulzar said that when Geelani stepped out to proceed to Iqra Masjid, the policemen enquired from him about his destination. “Geelani sahab told them that it was none of their business,” Gulzar said. “He told the policemen: your dictation won’t work; I am not here to abide by what you or your rulers prescribe for me… I will offer prayers wherever I wish.”
Then, Gulzar said, the policemen locked the door from outside.
Gulzar lashed out at the police for what he termed as their dictatorial approach. “Geelani is a leader of international stature, a scholar and a statesman. There is no constitutional and moral justification to curb his political activities and to stop him from performing religious obligations,” he said.
Director-General of Police SP Vaid had on April 1 said that Geelani and his two compatriots Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik were free to go anywhere. However, three days later Geelani was put back under house detention at his Hyderpora residence.
Geelani has been under house detention since 2010, when the National Conference government led by Omar Abdullah ordered that he confined. In the past five years he has been allowed to offer Friday prayers only once. He has also been barred from offering congregational Eid prayers since 2010.
Senior police officers declined to comment on Geelani’s confinement, while PDP’s senior leader Nizamuddin Bhat told Kashmir Reader that he does not wish to speak on the issue.
PDP spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir did not respond to calls from Kashmir Reader.