Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a revered leader in the Kashmir resistance movement, was born in Zurimanz Bandipora, north of Kashmir. His journey from a dedicated teacher to a revered leader marked a trajectory of unyielding commitment to the cause of Kashmir’s freedom struggle. Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s life encapsulated the essence of the Kashmiri struggle, deeply rooted in his unwavering belief in Islam as a guiding principle and the genuine aspirations of the inhabitants of Kashmir. Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s intellectual journey was fortified by his pursuit of education. His academic accomplishments, including degrees in Adeeb Aalim from Oriental College Lahore and Adeeb Fazil and Munshi Fazil from Kashmir University, laid the foundation for his leadership role. Initially a teacher, Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s transformative encounter with the works of Maulana Syed Abdul Aala Maududi steered him onto a path of profound activism. His affiliation with Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir in 1953 signaled his shift from pedagogy to the fervent service of the Islamic Movement.
The year 2004 marked a significant juncture as Syed Ali Shah Geelani established Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, a political front to resist Indian Occupation of the region. His leadership of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, until 2018, exhibited his resolute commitment to the cause. Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s life was indelibly marked by his unwavering faith in Islam and his vision of Kashmir’s affiliation with Pakistan. These ideals became the cornerstones of his relentless struggle.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s passing on this date two years ago reverberated across Kashmir and beyond. Amidst rumors that often shrouded his life, the Indian military administration activated “Operation G-Plan” to quell public participation in his funeral and enforce a clampdown across the region. The subsequent handling of his remains, a deeply sacred matter in Islam, caused outrage. The heavy presence of police and paramilitary troops and the hurried, restricted burial painted a grim picture of his treatment, even in death.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s stance towards the Indian state was a product of his uncompromising nature. His representation of Kashmiri aspirations and his vehement advocacy for human rights illuminated the dark corners of the occupation. His leadership in the resistance movement further fueled the Indian state’s apprehensions. The Indian establishment’s unease emanated from his steadfast resolve, which resonated deeply with the Kashmiri people.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s critique extended beyond ideologies; he remained a staunch advocate for genuine resolutions to the Kashmir conflict. He adamantly opposed solutions that neglected the core aspirations of Kashmiris and belittled the sacrifices of the martyrs. Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s firm rejection of the Four Point Formula proposed by General Musharraf, and love for the idea of Pakistan simultaneously emphasized his commitment to securing nothing less than complete freedom from the Indian occupation of Kashmir
On his second death anniversary, as we look at the ground situation in the occupied territory, what becomes strikingly undisputable is that his passing has marked an acceleration of India’s contentious approach in the valley. This is manifest in the harrowing stories of Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai and Altaf Ahmad Shah, who met cruel fates within the confines of Indian jails and the project of Settler Colonialism started by India in the region. The systematic denial of medical care and inhumane treatment led to their untimely deaths, spotlighting a disturbing pattern, aiming at annihilating the resistance leaders in Indian Jails in a systematic manner. The deaths of Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai and Altaf Ahmad Shah serve as stark reminders of the urgent need to address the dire human rights situation within Indian jails.
India’s unrelenting oppression of the Kashmiri populace after Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s demise casts a chilling shadow. The vacuum created by his absence has left Kashmiris feeling orphaned, devoid of a guiding figurehead. The oppressors’ narrative portrays a land adrift, bereft of leadership and direction. The current scenario is a grim reminder of the challenges the Kashmiri people continue to face.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s legacy remains a beacon of hope for those who yearn for a just resolution to the Kashmir conflict. His life story reflects the enduring spirit of a people who seek self-determination and justice. In the face of adversity, the Kashmiri spirit remains unbroken. Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s ideals continue to guide the way forward, reminding us that the struggle for justice transcends boundaries. The echoes of his commitment to Islam, his unwavering belief in Kashmir’s right to self-determination, and his dedication to the resistance movement serve as a resounding call for solidarity and justice in a region that has long yearned for peace. As I write this, the saintly figure and beloved leader of Kashmiris remains under arrest even after his death. India has stationed its soldiers around his grave, preventing people from visiting Quaid Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s resting place. The anguish within the hearts of Kashmiris continues to deepen with each passing day, and the climate of fear perpetuated by India in the valley continues to take a grim shape.