Ground Report | New Delhi: Syed Ali Shah Geelani dies; Former chairman of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani passes away. Family members of SAS Geelani said that the Kashmiri separatist leader has passed away a while ago at his Hyderpora residence.
“He had chest tightness and shortness of breath. He passed away at 10:30 pm,” he said. Geelani was ailing for a long time. Last year, he announced his resignation as the president of the Hurriyat Conference (G).
Who was Syed Ali Shah Geelani?
Syed Ali Shah Geelani was a controversial figure in the Kashmiri political circles and leader of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) known for its hardline approach towards the Indian government.
Born in Bandipora area of northern Kashmir on September 29, 1929, Geelani received his preliminary education at Sopore and finished his studies at the Oriental College, Lahore (then undivided India).
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Geelani initially formed the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat in the early days of his political career, but then abandoned the platform to join the more established Jamaat-e-Islami (Jammu and Kashmir), now banned.
He now uses the name of his original political party for his faction of the APHC, in contrast with the faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, which is known as the “moderate” APHC.
Geelani had helped form the APHC in 1993, along with Umar Farooq, Abdul Gani Lone (of the People’s Conference), Maulvi Abbas Ansari (of the Liberation Council) and Abdul Ghani Bhat (of the Muslim Conference). He succeeded Farooq, the body’s founding chairman, in 1997.
The separatist leader, in general, has taken the position that Kashmir must have the right of self-determination, but specifically advocates the position of union with Pakistan.
He began his political career in 1950 and has spent, all told, more than a decade in jail. He was first imprisoned in 1962 but has spent several spells in prison (ranging from days at a time to just over a year) from then onwards. The JI leader has frequently termed polls held under the Indian government as a “sham”.
Former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah has repeatedly accused Geelani for the rise of militancy in Kashmir. Farooq Abdullah, Omar’s father and the patron of the NC, has echoed this call, urging Geelani to “adopt a path which could save Kashmiri people from further destruction”.
Geelani’s participation in the electoral process lasted only until 1989 when militancy emerged. He resigned his seat in the legislature in protest at the time and has boycotted all elections held since.
The JI leader was diagnosed with renal cancer in 2007, but from his home in Srinagar, he remains a major force in Kashmiri politics. (Syed Ali Shah Geelani dies)
Geelani had appealed to the 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 PDP and the then ruling NC.
Despite repeated boycott appeals, the 2014 assembly election saw a record voter turnout of over 65%, the highest in over two decades. After record, the voting percentage in Kashmir, Geelani, along with other separatists, was criticized by the media for misleading the people of Kashmir and for not representing the true sentiments of the Kashmiri people.