Iconic Leader Syed Ali Gilani | By Raisa Adil

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Iconic Leader Syed Ali Gilani

The iconic Kashmiri Hurriyat leader and face of Kashmir resistance movement, Syed Ali Gilani, who challenged India’s hegemonic rule over Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) for decades, embraced martyrdom on 01 September 2021 after remaining in 12 years’ Indian detention in his residence in Srinagar. He was 92.

The death of Syed Ali Gilani under house detention has further elevated his stature among the Kashmiris. The veteran leader was already regarded as an epitome of dedication and sacrifice and will continue to inspire the struggling people of the territory in the times to come. He would continue to be viewed as an icon and great leader who strived for the sacred cause of freedom throughout his life, ultimately sacrificing himself for it. Syed Ali Gilani had remained an ardent supporter of Pakistan, a staunch freedom-fighter along with his family and a symbol of resistance against the Indian tyranny all through his life. He staunchly advocated Jammu and Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan.

Syed Ali Gilani was born in Zurmunz in Bandipore on 29 September 1929. He was educated at Sopore, and finished his studies at the Oriental College, Lahore (Pakistan). He remained associated with Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir for most part of his life but later founded his own party, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Jammu and Kashmir. He led the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) until late June 2020 quitting the pro-freedom amalgam due to his worsening health condition. He was elected to the Kashmir Legislative Assembly in 1972, 1977 and 1987.

Syed Ali Gilani’s passport was seized by the Indian authorities in 1981 due to his pro-freedom and anti-India activities. Except for Hajj pilgrimage in 2006, he was never allowed to go abroad. He was diagnosed with renal cancer in the same year. As the doctors advised his treatment from abroad, the Indian authorities returned Syed Ali Gilani’s passport to his son. In 2007, his condition worsened, although in the early stages of the cancer, it was life-threatening and a surgery was advised. He was set to travel either to the UK or the US. However, his visa request was rejected by the American government and he went to Mumbai for the surgery.

On 06 March 2014, Syed Ali Gilani fell ill with severe chest infection. He had been under house arrest since 2010. In May 2015, he applied for passport to visit his daughter in Saudi Arabia but NarendraModi-led fascist Indian government didn’t entertain his application.

Syed Ali Gilani spent many years in different Indian jails for opposing India’s illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. He endured physical and mental torture during his imprisonment. On 29 November 2010, he, along with noted Indian writer Arundhati Roy, activist VaravaraRao and three others, was charged under sedition by the Indian government for their speeches at a seminar in New Delhi. The charges carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. After the 2019 Pulwama incident, India took stronger action against pro-Pakistan Hurriyat leaders including Syed Ali Gilani.

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