Srinagar: The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC,) led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has denounced the FIR filed against the family of senior Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who died on September 1 at his Srinagar residence, triggering severe clampdown in the region.
The APHC said details shared by Geelani’s son with media describing how the authorities took away the body of the 92-year-old leader into their custody, and buried it on their own “without the knowledge and participation of the family is appalling and painful to hear.”
In a statement issued on Monday, APHC said: “It is so tragically inhuman when a family is denied the basic right of burial of their loved one and one can only imagine what the family must have gone through. After such harshness the authorities are now harassing the family with FIRs and threats of arrests, further exposing their cruelty.”
The Jammu and Kashmir police has registered a case against Geelani’s family members and relatives for “unlawful activities” following his death, accusing them of raising anti-India slogans and covering the leader’s body in Pakistani flag. The FIR has been registered under number 277/2021 under several sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), according to official sources.
The family of Geelani, who was considered the strongest advocate of Jammu and Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan, accused the police and civil administration of burying the leader against their wishes amid a commotion during which they accused the police of snatching the body. The family also alleged they were not allowed to participate in the last rites, a claim the police has refuted.
A video of the police action in which pro-freedom slogans can be heard in the backdrop was widely shared on social media.
Geelani had willed that he be buried in the Martyr’s graveyard – where top separatist leaders and civilian victims of violence are buried – at Idgah in Downtown Srinagar. He, however, was buried, hurriedly by the police, close to his house.
The FIR against the family was also condemned by Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister and leader of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Criticising the government's handling of the situation, she tweeted: “Having turned Kashmir into an open air prison, now even the dead aren’t spared. A family isn’t allowed to mourn and bid a final farewell as per their wishes. Booking Geelani sahab’s family under UAPA shows GOI’s deep rooted paranoia and ruthlessness. This is New India’s Naya Kashmir.”
Earlier, too, the Jammu and Kashmir authorities had booked family members of a senior Hurriyat leader Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai who died after developing serious medical complications in a jail in Udhampur. The police jailed his two sons, charging them of raising slogans at the funeral, which was also carried out “hurriedly” to “contain public angst” in the wake of the leader’s demise.
In February, Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, who believed his teenage son was killed in an alleged fake encounter in Lawaypora area of Srinagar on December 30, 2020, was booked along with six other under the UAPA for organising a protest. Wani had demanded the return of his son’s body, buried far away in the mountains of North Kashmir against the wishes of his family.
The regional political leadership and international civil rights groups have accused the police and civilian authorities in J&K of using laws such as UAPA to silence opposition and criminalise dissent in the region. Many have been booked merely for social media posts while lawyers, activists and journalists are claiming severe pressure from the government to silence them.