ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Syed Ali Hassan Gilani embraced martyrdom under Indian Police custody on September 1, 2021, at his residence in Hyderpora, Srinagar.
He was kept under continued house arrest for over a decade by Indian forces but they failed to snatch the thought of Freedom and resistance away from him. A frail-body Geelani was strongest than over a million personnel of Indian occupied forces therefore he remained a symbol of fear for Indian forces even after his physical death who had forcibly taken away the dead body of Syed Ali Hassan Gilanifor burial at Hyderpora graveyard under heavy military siege at night in violation of the last will of the veteran leader. Do we remember that Baba Bullah Shah was also denied his burial where he wished to be buried and his body was taken away outside the city and buried in an isolated place?
The life of Syed Ali Hassan Gilani started with the struggle for free land for his people and he spent several years in different Indian jails for opposing Indian rule in the occupied territory. He was subjected to physical and mental torture during his imprisonment but never bowed down to occupied forces till his last breath.
Syed Ali Gilani made a “significant contribution to the Kashmiris’ struggle for their right to self-determination and suffered lifelong persecution at the hands of India. Gilani had foretold what the future beholds for Kashmir in many of his revolutionary and visionary speeches. He had said when demography will be changed in favor of Hindus in Kashmir like in Jammu then India may concede to a plebiscite in the territory. It is feared that the Modi regime may accept the plebiscite once its settler plan is accomplished. Syed Ali Gilani had drawn the conclusion from past events that Hindus would never accept Muslims as an entity in India and a majority population in Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
There is a need to introduce the life and death of Syed Ali Hassan Gilani to young generations to inform them that Freedom has no other option to trade-off.
Geelani was born on September 29 1929 and he is regarded as the father of the Kashmiri indigenous freedom movement.
Gilani’s long and precarious journey for the legitimate cause of Kashmiris started well before his formal political career which started from the platform of Jammat-e-Islami (JeI) in 1952. He soon rose to become district chief of the Kupwara and Baramulla districts.
Geelani spent more than twelve years of his life in jail, he was first arrested in 1962 on the charges of “raising the Kashmir issue”.
Geelani initially struggled for his cause through mainstream politics but later on realized that the government of India had never been sincere in the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
He staunchly opposed the enactment of the Indian draconian law of Public Safety Act (PSA) and openly challenged then Chief Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah when he introduced the stringent Public Safety Act in the region.
The act, termed lawless by Amnesty International, was brought to be used against timber smugglers. However, it was later modified to imprison political voices. Under the law, anyone could be imprisoned for up to two years without trial.
Geelani played an active role in the formulation of the Muslim United Front (MUF) in 1987 ahead of provincial elections, all Muslim parties came under a single platform – MUF – against pro-India parties, including National Conference. Only four candidates of the platform, including Geelani, however, managed to secure seats due to alleged rigging. Geelani, along with three other winners, was jailed by the Indian government.
This was the watershed moment, which marked the beginning of indigenous armed resistance against the “Indian unlawful occupation of IIOJK”. The National Conference-Congress political alliance formed a government, which was dissolved in the early 1990s as the armed rebellion broke out. Lawyers and activists were jailed, and political activity was banned. Geelani and comrades resigned in protest.
In 1992, the foundation of the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference (APHC) was laid. It was a platform of at least 30 pro-freedom parties to take forward Kashmir’s fight for the right to self-determination. The JeI was represented by Geelani.
In August 2004, Geelani along with Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai launched Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (Movement of Freedom). Geelani emerged as a prominent face when Kashmiris held mass civil uprisings post-2008.
In 2009 he launched the “demilitarization movement” and in 2010, when three civilians were killed in a fake encounter along the LoC in the Machil area of Kupwara district by Indian forces, a mass uprising was triggered. Geelani was at the forefront.
In 2016 after the killing of popular young freedom Burhan Wani at the hands of Indian security forces. Geelani, along with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik organized protests against the brutal action of Indian occupation Forces.
After the Indian government revoked Articles 370 and 35 A from the Indian Constitution, scrapping the country’s only Muslim-majority state with its autonomy, Geelani remained consistent with the struggle prior to the revocation of special status.
Syed Ali Geelani remained under house arrest after 5 Aug 2019 till his death.
Indian government fearful of his stature denied proper burial of the great Kashmiri leader and was internationally condemned for this brutal and inhuman act.
Geelani has authored at least 30 books including his autobiography ‘Wular Kinaray or on the banks of Wular Lake.
Pakistan conferred Nishan-i-Pakistan on Syed Ali Geelani in recognition of his decades-old struggle for Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. It is time the Indian government should “release all those detained on political or humanitarian grounds” to create a conducive environment for peace to prevail in the region.
All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) has appealed to the people of IIOJK to massively march towards Hyderpora in Srinagar on September 1, 2022, to pay tribute to the icon of the Kashmir resistance movement, Syed Ali Geelani, on his first martyrdom anniversary. His first death anniversary is being observed when Indian forces are surpassing the history of brutalities in IIOJK and almost all leadership of APHC is in jails or under house arrest. However, Indian forces have miserably failed to snatch away the “Thought of Freedom” from Kashmiris although they have used every possible trick and tactic to take away the “Right to Freedom of Thought” from Kashmiris.
Simon McCarthy-Jones in his latest work “The Autonomous Mind: The Right to Freedom of Thought in the Twenty-First Century”, says that to lose freedom of thought is to lose our dignity and our very selves.
The Western world is ensuring that Freedom of Thought includes the right not to reveal one’s thoughts, not to be penalized for one’s thoughts, and not to have one’s thoughts manipulated. Unfortunately to say that when the subject of freedom for occupied Kashmiris comes forward, there is a deadly, manipulated, and criminal silence in Western media.