Syed Ali Shah Geelani died at his home in Srinagar, the capital city of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu Kashmir. He was 91 and yet a constant thorn in New Delhi’s belief of Kashmir being the ‘inseparable organ of India.’ So much that his death during an over 12-years-long house arrest triggered a desperate response from the Indian occupying forces. The authorities seized his dead body, conducted his burial in secret with a handful of his family members present, and imposed a curfew to prevent the Kashmiri’s to celebrate the death of a man whose life revolved around his relentless desire for a Kashmir that was free from Indian illegal occupation.
Roads leading to Geelani’s house were closed off with barbed wires and barricades as the family announced his death. The authorities deployed thousands of security forces and cut off mobile internet services across the valley. The police said no one would be allowed to leave their homes. If a time was ever to come where New Delhi would have inadvertently honoured an ailing, 92-years old man for his sheer power and charisma then this was it.
There was a time when Geelani stood alone on the Kashmiri political landscape. He was a sole yet the most potent voice for Kashmir’s right to self-determination and a possible merger with Pakistan. He was jailed for about 30-long years under detention including the last 12-years of his life under house arrest. Geelani led the All Parties Hurriyat Conference until his retirement from politics in 2020. The APHC remains the frontline fervent advocate of independence from Indian rule, be it as an independent state or a unified state with Pakistan. As Geelani maintained all his life, APHC says there will be no dialogue with New Delhi without a United Nations-mandated plebiscite in the occupied territory.
The 2019 abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A vindicated Geelani’s life’s work: peace under Indian occupation is never possible. The generational blatant misconception held by the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference and Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party lay bare. With the annulment of Kashmir’s special status under the Indian constitution, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi-leg government has crushed the last surviving solace for the Kashmiris, many of whom were largely indifferent toward New Delhi’s rule in Kashmir. The past two years have been a stark reminder of what Geelani maintained for about 40-years.
Then there is Pakistan. Islamabad’s response in the face of Indian fascism in the occupied valley is anything but encouraging. On the global stage, Pakistan continues to lobby for the implementation of the UN resolutions but there is palpable helplessness among the political and diplomatic corridors with regard to the Kashmir issue. If anything is obvious, it is that minutes of silence and black days have never ended fascist tyranny.
As the loudspeakers from the mosques in Srinagar broke the reign of the eery silence, the occupied valley paid tribute to their most valiant of sons whose departure orphaned the Kashmir resistance. New heroes would rise but Geelani was one of a kind.
Geelani once famously said, “We are Pakistanis, Pakistan is ours.” If anything, Geelani’s will be vindicated soon enough. Some legacies transcend generations. Geelani’s will last forever.