The Indian government oversaw the burial of veteran Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Geelani in a carefully controlled pre-dawn ceremony Thursday, fearing unrest in the Himalayan region.
After a long illness, the unrelenting activist against Indian authority in occupied Kashmir died on Wednesday at the age of 92, prompting the deployment of hundreds of police officers to attempt to avert violence in the disputed region.
A police source told AFP that Geelani was buried at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday at a cemetery near his house in Srinagar’s main city. Only a few of his family were there, including two of his sons, according to the source.
Geelani, India’s most vocal critic who spent years in prison or under house arrest, had wished to be buried at Srinagar’s Martyrs Cemetery. According to the police source, officials turned down the request.
“We basically took control of the arrangements,” the official said.
Authorities allegedly intervened out of concern of widespread sorrow devolving into turmoil, according to residents.
“Troops are everywhere, there are barbed wire blockades on every main road,” said one.
Following the news of Geelani’s death, announcements were broadcast over the loudspeakers of the major mosque near his home, urging people to march to his home.
However, authorities have said that no one in the Kashmir Valley would be permitted to leave their houses.
Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, was among the first to pay homage to Geelani, tweeting that he was “deeply saddened” by the death of the “Kashmiri freedom fighter” who had spent most of the previous 11 years under house arrest.
Geelani had been suffering from heart and kidney issues for many months.
Khan said that Geelani had “struggled all his life for his people and their right to self-determination. He suffered incarceration and torture by the occupying Indian state but remained resolute.”
In Pakistan, he proclaimed a day of national mourning.
‘We don’t know where he has been buried’
Abdullah Geelani, Syed Ali Geelani’s special representative, has said that the family does not know where the renowned Kashmiri politician is buried.
“The Indian Army has seized Geelani’s body,” he said. “We don’t know where he has been laid to rest.”
He said that Indian troops tortured Geelani’s family and that the Kashmiri leader should be buried in the Martyrs Cemetary, as he requested.
“The entire Kashmir has been closed down and communication has been blocked,” he said.