Srinagar: Veteran pro-freedom leader and former Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Geelani passed away at his residence-cum-office in Srinagar on Wednesday evening. He was 92.
His family members confirmed the death of Geelani after prolonged illness at his Hyderpora residence. There was no confirmation about the timing of his funeral prayers or about the place of his burial.
Reports said that he breathed his last at around 10:30 pm after developing chest pain.
Soon after his death, government forces were seen setting up barricades at the entrance of the lane leading to Geelani’s house. Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar said that nobody from outside will be allowed to visit and restrictions will be imposed in the Valley. “Only family members and neighbors will be allowed to visit,” he said.
According to his will, he wanted to be buried in Srinagar’s Eidgah ‘martyrs’ graveyard, where scores of militants alongside several others killed in the last three decades of armed militancy are buried. But it is believed the authorities might not allow it to avoid disturbance in the situation.
The octogenarian leader was held by previous governments led by Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti under house detention at his Hyderpora residence since 2010. A posse of policemen were placed outside his home, preventing him from leaving his home. On a few occasions, he was briefly allowed to offer Friday prayers in mosques but was later placed under house detention again. Lastly, he was seen in public life before the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019. Since then, he has remained confined to his home and away from public life.
Surprisingly, he quit Hurriyat Conference on June 29, 2020 after issuing a letter and an audiotape accusing Pakistan-based Hurriyat leadership of nepotism, political corruption and breach of trust in leadership.
It was seen as a major decision since his quitting the United Hurriyat Conference in 2003 following differences with the Peoples Conference over fielding of proxies in the 2002 legislative assembly elections. Since then, he was heading his own amalgam comprising almost two dozen parties.
Though an ardent supporter of Pakistan, his credibility and stature grew immensely after he openly criticised and refused to endorse four-point formula of Pakistan military dictator Gen Parvez Musharraf. It also developed bitterness between Mirwaiz Umar Farooq led Hurriyat who was supporting Musharraf’s formula.
Geelani was averse to bilateral dialogue with New Delhi and lastly he refused to meet an all-party delegation sent by Government of India in 2016.