THE struggling people of Jammu and Kashmir have lost a strong voice in the death of their veteran leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who breathed his last at the age of 92 after a prolonged illness.
Geelani was not having good health but despite that the occupation forces put him under house arrest for the last twelve years as he had a clear headed approach to the cause of freedom struggle and future of the disputed territory.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani was a towering Kashmiri leader who was listened to and respected by all and feared most by New Delhi because of his uncompromising stance against forcible occupation of Jammu and Kashmir.
His popularity can be judged by the fact that the Indian authorities imposed a strict clamp down in Srinagar, placing barbed wire and barricades on the roads near Geelani’s house.
Large contingents of police and paramilitary forces in riot gear were deployed to deny access to people to attend his funeral and mobile/internet services were closed.
The most distinguished quality of the late leader was that despite having a lean and feeble structure, he stood resolutely for the cause of Kashmir bracing all sorts of pressure, incarceration and brutalities.
Geelani was such an ardent supporter of the freedom movement that he opposed dialogue between Pakistan and India on Kashmir declaring that there should be no talks until and unless a plebiscite is held to determine the fate of the occupied territory.
While paying rich tributes for his consistent struggle for the right of self-determination for Kashmiris, Prime Minister Imran Khan aptly recalled Geelani’s famous remarks ‘‘Hum Pakistani hain aur Pakistan Humara hai’ [‘We are Pakistan and Pakistan is ours’].
These words reflected his deep attachment with Pakistan and a strong desire to see Occupied Kashmir as part of Pakistan.
Last year, Geelani was awarded Pakistan’s highest civilian honour, the Nishan-e-Pakistan, an award bestowed upon the likes of Nelson Mandela, Richard Nixon and Fidel Castro.
The courage with which Geelani led the freedom movement should serve as an eye-opener for rulers in New Delhi that they cannot subjugate a nation forever that is determined to realize their birth right at all costs.
Geelani is no more in Kashmir but the spirit he infused in the freedom movement would, Allah Almighty willing, lead Kashmiris to the path of success and victory.