J&K Govt Carries out Hurried Funeral for Geelani Amid Clampdown Across Kashmir
Srinagar: People in Jammu and Kashmir woke up to a strict clampdown as authorities in the region imposed restrictions on movement and communication in the wake of death of senior Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani here on Thursday.
Geelani, 92, died late Wednesday night after prolonged illness following which the Union territory government blocked all roads leading to his Hyderpora residence in Srinagar to thwart mourners from attending his funeral.
The police and paramilitary forces stopped people from commuting across Kashmir valley while all shops, business establishments and offices remained shut. Even as there were apprehensions within the security establishment of a possible breakout of violence in the wake of Geelani’s demise, no such major incident was reported from the region – kept under tough curbs.
Many in Geelani’s family were reportedly stopped from participating in the last rites of the nonagenarian leader while family friends and relatives were not able to attend his burial – carried out hurriedly in the dead of the night by J&K police against the wishes of his family.
The alleged claims of the family were, however, refuted by the police. “Reported allegations against police are baseless. In fact, Police facilitated in bringing the dead body from the house to the graveyard as there was apprehension that miscreants might take undue advantage of situation. Relatives participated in last rites,” IGP Kashmir was quoted as saying by the Kashmir Zone Police Twitter handle.
In one of his last few statements, Geelani – a three time Member of Legislative Assembly - had wished that he be buried in Mazar e Shohada – the Martyr’s Graveyard at Iddgah, Srinagar. He was buried under the police and administration of vigil in the compound of Jama Masjid, Hyderpora, which is close to his residence.
Many who wished to attend the leader’s funeral said they were disappointed with the government’s decision. “He was an important figure who has been at the centre of Kashmir’s politics and society for more than six decades. I wanted to attend his last rites but this is so unfortunate,” a local of Srinagar’s Chanapora said. He wished that his name not be revealed fearing reprisal from the police authorities.
To many, the restrictions in the wake of death of Geelani are reminiscient of the unprecedented lockdown imposed in the region ahead of the abrogation of Article 370 and its bifurcation into two Union territories that led to serious social and economic losses. The locals also alleged the police of not allowing travellers with an emergency, leading to inconvenience.
“I have a tourist group waiting at Baba Reshi shrine and I have to pick them up. There is no way I can reach them now and they must be really worried,” Tufail a taxi driver from Anantnag told NewsClick.
The demise of Geelani, who was one of the founding members of key All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) in 1993, was condoled by various mainstream political leaders, including former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.
“Saddened by the news of Geelani sahab’s passing away. We may not have agreed on most things but I respect him for his steadfastness & standing by his beliefs. May Allah Ta’aala grant him jannat & condolences to his family & well wishers,” she tweeted.
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