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Shehryar Afridi demands probe into ‘custodial killing’ of Syed Ali Geelani

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By Hamid Khan Wazir

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Pakistan Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Chairman Shehryar Khan Afridi on Thursday demanded the United Nations Human Rights Council and other human rights organizations for an immediate and impartial inquiry into what he called the ‘custodial killing’ of iconic Kashmiri Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Geelani.

Speaking to media after attending funeral prayers in absentia offered for the solace of Syed Ali Geelani’s soul at Parliament House in Islamabad, Shehryar Afridi said that this is the second high profile custodial killing after Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Chairman Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai who was also killed in custody early this year in May. Sehrai was denied medical facilities due to which he breathlessly gave his life in police custody.

The funeral in absentia was attended by Pakistan President Dr. Arif Alvi, Chairman Pakistan Senate Sadiq Sanjrani, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry, Prime Minister AJK Abdul Qayyum Khan Niazi, All Parties Hurriyat Conference leaders, and other members of the Parliament.

Shehryar Afridi said the world needs to probe into the death of Syed Ali Geelani through an impartial and fair inquiry.

“Geelani was a public figure, a man of the people who had dedicated all his life for the cause of Kashmir. The circumstances leading to his death and then the forceful burial have raised serious concerns. We fear if Geelani’s killing is not probed, other Kashmiri incarcerated by India may also be killed in custody,” he said.

“Had the world community and human rights organizations investigated the custodial killing of Shaheed Ashraf Sehrai, Syed Ali Geelani’s life could have been saved. The lack of medical facilities, prolonged incarceration, and isolation further deteriorated his health,” said Afridi.

“The behavior of occupational Indian forces, the haste in disposing off the body and restricting friends and family from performing the last rituals, as per Muslim faith, raises a strong suspicion of another custodial killing after Ashraf Sehrai,” Afridi said.

The Kashmir Committee chairman said that while Syed Ali Geelani was under house arrest since October 2010, mystery shrouded his death as the Indian forces cordoned off the residence of Geelani and barred media and even close relatives from entering Geelani’s residence in Hyderpora area, situated along the Srinagar International Airport Road.

“Even the whole street was barricaded and family and friends were not allowed to enter the House. In dead of the night, the Indian forces barged into the house and forcefully took Geelani Sahib’s body. The family was tortured and beaten to release the dead body against their will,” he said.

Shehryar Afridi argued that while Mr. Geelani died in mysterious circumstances, the Indian occupational regime took his body into custody from his family and buried it in the dead of the night – this all suggests that Geelani was killed in custody.

“On May 05 this year, Geelani’s lifetime aide Ashraf Sehrai, who was incarcerated in Udhampur jail in Jammu region, was murdered under custody. His mysterious death and then disposition of his body had raised questions at that time. The world conscience and the movers and shakers were asked to probe into this death but the voices remained unheard,” he argued.

Paying tributes to deceased Kashmiri leader, Shehryar Afridi said that Syed Ali Geelani was an iconic freedom leader of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

“He dedicated his life to the Kashmir liberation movement and played a vital role politically. Syed Ali Geelani throughout his life had a firm stand on the Kashmir dispute resolution which was based on the right of self-determination as per the UN Resolutions,” he concluded.

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