OPINION: In Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s death, Pakistan Has Lost Its Last Man Standing in Kashmir

On August 15 2021, 100 ft tall Indian tricolour was inaugurated on the Hari Parbat fort overlooking your complete downtown in Srinagar. On the eve of India’s Independence Day, the historic Lalchowk was additionally lit within the three colors of the Indian flag and the Ghantaghar (clock-tower) was refurbished by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation. Over the final many months nearly all authorities buildings, faculties, police stations, and hospitals within the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&Okay) have seen the tricolour being put in and hoisted largely by frequent Kashmiri Muslims.

This was maybe the final sight with which Syed Ali Shah Geelani passed away after prolonged illness at his residence in Hyderpora locality in Central Kashmir on September 1st. He was 92.

Geelani, who studied Islamic training in Lahore started his life as a instructor in North Kashmir’s Sopore. He then turned a politician and was a three-time Member of Legislative Assembly in J&Okay swearing by the Indian structure and saluting the tricolour. He was with the novel Islamist outfit Jamaat-e-Islami that ran faculties and advocated Islamist legislation as an alternative of a secular democracy in J&Okay, because the Fifties. The Jamaat had at all times been vocally against the Sufi traditions in Kashmir valley. In 1981, for the very first time, Geelani’s passport was confiscated by the Indian Government for anti-India actions.

After an armed riot sponsored by Pakistan began shaping in Kashmir by means of the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) in 1989, Geelani noticed a lot of his personal younger cadres crossing throughout the border to get arms coaching, solely to unfold bloodshed and mayhem throughout the valley. Terrorism had begun in Kashmir. Geelani silently watched the barbaric ethnic cleaning of Kashmiri Pandits unfold earlier than his eyes and but remained a mute spectator to the repeated carnage towards the minority neighborhood of Hindus.

It was in 1993 that Hurriyat took beginning with the blessings of Pakistan deep state in Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) concurrently. It was an amalgamation of over two dozen political events and social teams with an Islamist tilt organised to hunt self-determination and accession to J&Okay.

Years later Geelani could be frequently invited to Pakistan Day celebrations on the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. The Hurriyat turned instrumental in organising protests and shutdown throughout the valley. It additionally turned the ideological shadow behind terrorist teams together with Hizbul Mujahideen in Kashmir.

Many Hurriyat leaders nonetheless usually have been seen participating with Indian intelligence businesses, usually fortunately having fun with their hospitality, perks and money. Yasin Malik was one such separatist who loved a relationship each with Indian and Pakistani intelligence businesses. Malik, who was earlier a terrorist and killed unarmed Indian Air Force males and several other Kashmiri Pandits, went unpunished for his crimes towards humanity which might have seen him being sentenced to demise.

Come 2004, the rift throughout the Hurriyat was extensive open. Geelani differed in political method and dialogue with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who was a lot youthful and but thought-about a reasonable face of the separatist group. The Hurriyat break up in 2004 into the reasonable and the novel faction. Geelani shaped his personal Tehreek-e-Hurriyat and slowly moved away from Jamaat-e-Islami as effectively. Years later Geelani and his males have been unceremoniously thrown out of the Jamaat-e-Islami advisory council for the formation of a separate Hurriyat outfit.

Geelani would usually be photographed with Kashmiri youth a lot of whom would later be seen brandishing weapons in social media posts and subsequently be killed in encounters with safety forces in Kashmir. The vicious cycle of demise continued in Kashmir underneath Geelani’s watch and patronage.

In 2008, Geelani performed a big function in launching an agitation towards the allocation of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board for facilitation and lodging of Hindu pilgrims. The pilgrimage for years has been a serious supply of revenue for native inhabitants of Srinagar, Anantnag and Ganderbal particularly. The agitation led to a communal divide between Jammu in addition to Kashmir and resulted in a number of killings and plenty of being wounded as effectively. Many believed that the agitation was a brainchild of Pakistan ISI by means of Geelani.

Similar mass agitation was seen in 2010 by Hurriyat, and particularly by Geelani, in Kashmir towards the Indian Government and safety forces. In over three months when Kashmir was at a standstill, over 112 folks have been killed and plenty of others wounded. The agitation and the killings led to an enormous public embarrassment for the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

After the Indian Parliament assault conspirator, Afzal Guru, was hanged by India in 2013, Geelani but once more tried to instigate passions however met little success.

Later in 2016 Geelani together with Mirwaiz and Yasin Malik shaped the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) which was Hurriyat in a brand new avatar for the announcement of shutdowns, hartals and agitations throughout Kashmir valley. The first main and vital shutdown and agitation the JRL launched was after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani that 12 months. Wani had turn out to be a poster boy of separatists within the valley and led to large recruitment of youth into terror ranks. This nonetheless turned the final profitable agitation of Geelani.

Rift inside Hurriyat

While the rift throughout the radical Hurriyat wasn’t new, the 2017 raids by the National Investigation Agency throughout Kashmir led to opening previous wounds throughout the Hurriyat. In a telephonic dialog between Hurriyat chief Nayeem Khan and Hizbul Mujahideen founder Ahsan Dar in May 2017, accessed by this journalist, each distinguished separatists spoke about Geelani refusing to assist them throughout NIA raids within the notorious cross-border terror hawala funding case. At one level through the dialog, Nayeem Khan says, “If we open his (Geelani’s) Pandora’s box, not a single person in Kashmir will attend his funeral except his own family members.”

Nayeem Khan in the audio clip, further says, “Geelani has made me qurbani ka bakra (sacrificial lamb) even though I continued to stonewall NIA.” He asks, “What Tehreek is this? In Kashmir, Indian Army gives Sena Medal to Major Gogoi out of brotherly spirit to keep the morale high, and here we are not only demoralised but thrown off the deathly cliff. He (Geelani) backstabbed me at the most sensitive moment.”

Khan finally went on to disclose his apprehensions, “His (Geelani’s) main motive is that as far as he is alive, he should be the main man, and, after his death his family should be in control. Altaf Fantosh is not just his son in law but also the member of executive council of Hurriyat.”

The divide within the radical Hurriyat grew not much because of the power struggle but because of the uneven distribution of Hawala Money received from Pakistan ISI.

In March 2019, the Income Tax department sealed Geelani’s Khirki Extension residence since he failed to pay a sum of Rs. 3.62 crore for the assessment year 1996–97 to 2001–02. Geelani was further prohibited and restrained from transferring the asset. Earlier Enforcement Directorate had imposed a penalty of Rs. 14.4 lakhs on Geelani in a case relating to illegal possession of $10,000 and allegedly acquiring Rs. 10 lakh through illegal means in 2002.

The Jihadi cult of Geelani has forced several Kashmiri youth into stone pelting and now even becoming suicide bombers. In the recent few years, Indian investigation agencies including NIA and J&K Police have found Geelani and his separatist colleagues recommending Kashmiri Youth for higher education visas to the Pakistan High Commission for easy facilitation of visas. The same youth have got arms and physical training by Pakistan ISI in the garb of higher education visa and later have been killed in several encounters with Indian security forces in Kashmir. Not once did Geelani empathise with the Kashmiri men and women whose sons and daughters have been butchered by terrorism emanating from Pakistan. Instead, Geelani had chosen to push the youth into a suicidal path of terror. While his own family enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle in India and abroad.

Thousands of innocents have been killed because of this bloodlust and communal hate that Geelani stood for over the years. Mothers have lost their sons, toddlers have lost their fathers and sisters have lost their brothers in this gory, endless violence.

The epitaph of every innocent victim of terrorism in Kashmir will have Syed Ali Shah Geelani written over it as the murderer.

The Last Man standing for Pakistan

Geelani’s funeral was attended by a handful of family members in the dead of the night. No significant protests or violence was witnessed in Jammu & Kashmir. Pakistan announced national mourning and flew its flag at half-mast. The Pakistan ISI through the Hurriyat chapter in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) tried to provoke violence by playing the emotional card by bringing in religion. Sadly for Rawalpindi, there were no takers for their propaganda in Kashmir this time around.

Geelani’s death has come at a time when the separatist movement in Kashmir has been on a ventilator for over four years. Most of the prominent leaders are in prison on terror charges. Many others are disillusioned. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the only prominent voice who is free, is not interested to carry forward the movement any longer in the same tone and tenor.

Geelani was Pakistan’s last hope in Kashmir. He was the last man standing for Pakistan in Kashmir who could drive Islamabad’s agenda. The Naya Kashmir however has no takers for this agenda. Indian Government’s no-tolerance approach ever since abrogation of Article 370 has brought a paradigm shift in the valley.

India’s hold on Kashmir is stronger than ever before in last more than three decades. On the other hand Pakistan has been at its weakest ever since the Balakot air strike and the abrogation of Article 370. New Delhi is unlikely to loosen the grip over Kashmir’s pulse.

Who will lead the Hurriyat?

Geelani’s departure has led to speculation now on who will lead the defunct radical Hurriyat wing. Masarat Alam, another rabid voice, was the obvious choice but he remains imprisoned. Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf is another probable candidate. There has been speculation that the Government of India may officially ban Hurriyat. Or will it let it die a natural death?

What will happen in the absence of the Hurriyat? And who will take the vacant space of separatists now in the valley? Is this the end of separatist political agitation? These are questions that only time will answer.

In 2017 Ghazi Baba, a prominent former Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist, who spent many years in jail, said to this journalist in a very upset tone. “I think we are the real Hurriyat. Not them. We picked up the gun. Not Geelani. We don’t believe in his Hurriyat. Talk to me. Not him.”

“I have put fire across this valley. I know how to douse it,” he mentioned with a agency conviction.

“Mark my words”, he continued. “There will be no crowd at Geelani’s funeral. No Kashmiri will shed a tear when this monster dies. And he will be forgotten soon by the same Kashmiris who worshiped him”.

Aditya Raj Kaul is Contributing Editor, News18 group with greater than a decade lengthy expertise in protecting Conflict, Foreign Policy, and Internal Security. He may be reached at Aditya.Kaul@nw18.com

Disclaimer:The views expressed on this article are these of the creator and don’t symbolize the stand of this publication.

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