Pro-Pakistan Kashmiri separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani passed away at his home in Srinagar on 1 September. The funeral took place on Thursday morning. Geelani, who was the face of separatist politics in Jammu and Kashmir for years, had been ill for a while. The leader had quit the Hurriyat last year.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti offered her condolences on his demise, saying that she admired him for “his steadfastness & standing by his beliefs.” She wrote that while they had not agreed on many things, she was saddened to hear the news of his death.
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.
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) September 1, 2021
Sajad Lone of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference also offered his condolences.
Heartfelt condolences to the family of Syed Ali Shah Geelani Sahib. Was an esteemed colleague of my late father. May Allah grant him Jannat.
— Sajad Lone (@sajadlone) September 1, 2021
Condolences also poured in from across the border. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that the nation would observe a day of mourning and the Pakistan flag would be flown at half-mast. Khan wrote that people in Pakistan salute his courageous struggle.
We in Pakistan salute his courageous struggle & remember his words: "Hum Pakistani hain aur Pakistan Humara hai". The Pakistan flag will fly at half mast and we will observe a day of official mourning.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) September 1, 2021
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi called Geelani the “torch bearer of the Kashmir freedom movement”.
Pakistan mourns the loss of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, torch bearer of the Kashmir freedom movement. Shah Sb fought for the rights of Kashmiris till the very end, under house arrest of Indian occupation. May he rest in peace and may his dream of freedom come true.
— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) September 1, 2021
The Pakistan Armed Forces also released a message on Geelani’s demise, saying that Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, expressed his deepest grief on Geelani’s demise. The post added that the former Hurriyat leader’s dream and his determination for freedom will live on.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa #COAS expresses deepest grief on the sad demise of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, icon of #Kashmir Freedom Movement. “ His lifelong sacrifices & ceaseless struggle symbolises indomitable resolve of Kashmiris against Indian occupation. (1/2)
— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) September 1, 2021
Meanwhile, security has been tightened in Kashmir Valley following the news of Geelani’s death. Internet services have been suspended in the region and some senior members of the Hurriyat, including Mukhtar Ahmed Waza, have been detained. Security has also been tightened outside Geelani’s home in Srinagar.
Born on September 29, 1929, Geelani represented the Sopore constituency in 1972, 1977, and 1987. He was among the seven executive members of the Hurriyat when it was formed in 1993.
When he stepped down from the organisation, he accused it of conspiring against him and failing to fire the separatist movement after the 2019 abrogation of Article 370.