SRINAGAR — Kashmir’s top separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani, who died late Wednesday evening was laid to rest at a local graveyard, against his will, and amidst extraordinary security measures. The funeral was tightly controlled by Police as only a few relatives of Geelani and some neighbours were allowed to participate in the prayers.
Geelani, 92, died at his uptown home in Hyderpora Srinagar where he was under house detention for the past 11 years.
The authorities imposed stringent measures to thwart any protests and stop people from participating in the funeral prayers of the late leader.
As Geelani was declared dead by various media outlets, Kashmir police chief Vijay Kumar reached the residence of Geelani and warned his family members of holding any major congregation in view of the covid-19 situation. Kumar told the family that they should ensure minimum participation of people in the funeral prayers.
While Geelani family, their relatives and some neighbours were mourning the death of their “beloved leader”, at around 1 a.m. in the night, some policemen, according to the family sources, came into their house and took away his body.
They said that the deceased leader had willed that he be buried inside the Mazar-e-Shuhada (Martyrs Graveyard), however, police snatched his body and buried him at a local graveyard.
Naseem Geelani, son of the veteran leader said that the police officials snatched Geelani’s body from the family. “Although we resisted,” Naseem said, “but the officials overpowered us.”
Police also did not let allow all those who had assembled at the Geelani house to participate in his funeral prayers.
Soon after the news about Geelani’s death broke out, authorities announced a communication blockade and the restriction of public movement. The authorities deployed heavy contingents of police forces to prevent people from participating in Geelani’s funeral.
Barricades and paramilitary personnel were deployed in strength across the valley while civilians were not allowed to commute.
A south Kashmir resident travelling to Srinagar said that he had to get checked at 10 checkpoints to reach Srinagar. “I was lucky that I was carrying a medical card,” he said, “many others were not allowed to travel.”
In north Kashmir, authorities sealed all the roads in and out of the Sopore, a township where Geelani ancestrally belonged. Roads of many other volatile areas like Palhallan – traditionally known for anti-India protests – were also blocked.
Most of the roads in the capital city Srinagar and adjoining areas wore a deserted look while police and paramilitary forces manned the major junctions. Concertina wires were laid out at other major intersections in the city to thwart peoples’ attempts to reach Hyderpora.
Geelani was a staunch proponent of the merger of Kashmir with Pakistan.
He repeatedly denied engagements with New Delhi, asserting that India must call Kashmir a disputed territory, demilitarize the region and release political prisoners for any engagements.
Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir police denied allegations of snatching Geelani’s body from the family.
Police said that reported allegations against Police are baseless.
“In fact, Police facilitated in bringing dead-body from house to graveyard as there was apprehension that miscreants might take undue advantage of the situation,” police said in a tweet, and quoted IGP Kumar saying that “relatives participated in last rites”.
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