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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/3/21

India locks down Kashmir after secret burial of Geelani

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Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the veteran Kashmiri leader from Indian-administered Kashmir, has been laid to rest as the Indian authorities crack down on public movement and impose a near-total communications blackout to prevent protests, Al Jazeera reported Thurday.

Geelani, the icon of the disputed region's resistance against New Delhi's rule, died late on Wednesday. He was 92.

Geelani was buried in a quiet funeral organized by the authorities under harsh restrictions, his son Naseem Geelani told Al Jazeera.

He said the family had planned the burial at the main martyrs' graveyard in Srinagar, the region's main city, as per his will, but "they (police) snatched his body and forcibly buried him".

"We told the administration that we will bury him at 10am so that our relatives who live in far-off areas could attend," Naseem told Al Jazeera.

"But they took the body forcefully at 3am and did not allow any of us to take part in the last prayers. They even argued with the women in the family who resisted taking away his body."

Other media reports said that Indian troops put up barbed wire and barricades on roads leading to Geelani├é ┤s house in the main city of Srinagar after the family announced the death. Hundreds of security forces were immediately deployed and media reports said a curfew would be imposed and internet services cut.

Naseem said it was only at 10am on Thursday that the family members were allowed to see Geelani's grave.

The Press Trust of India news agency reported that officials buried Geelani's body and disallowed any mass funeral in anticipation of anti-India protests.

The clampdown echoes restrictions that were imposed in August 2019 when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi split Jammu and Kashmir - then the country's only Muslim majority state - into two federally administered territories.

Icon of Kashmiri resistance

The veteran politician was jailed for nearly 10 years after 1962 and often restricted to his home after that.

Since his youth Geelani had been a member of Jamaat-i-Islami, the largest political-religious organiZation in the India-administer J&K that was banned by the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi in 2019.

He was previously a member of Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir but later on, founded his own party in the name of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.

He was a member of Kashmir Assembly from the Sopore constituency of Jammu and Kashmir three times (1972, 1977 and 1987).

Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and President of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said she was "saddened by the news". "We may not have agreed on most things but I respect him for his steadfastness and standing by his beliefs. May Allah Ta'aala grant him jannat and condolences to his family and well wishers," she wrote.

More than two years after India's Hindu-nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra stripped Indian-administered Kashmir of its limited autonomy, political activity in the disputed region is in a deep freeze, businesses are struggling, while people's rights are being suppressed through stringent laws.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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