Views from Srinagar
Prayers go up as people wish this symbol of resistance live longer.
AS the news, that Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani suffered a heart attack flashed on the social media, a pall of gloom cast over the entire valley. With it the oxygen-fitted mask picture of the leader in extremely critical condition from the Max Hospital Delhi triggered the shock of something unbearable to withstand. All of a sudden mouths were dried of moisture and tongues got locked in the gullet. Cells were directed to closest of the circle of the ailing leader to know of the latest update. Most times switched off, pessimism began to spread its claws. With three party leaders dashing to Delhi on the evening, a near mournful mode Kashmir was stuck in. In solidarity with tearful sighs up went the hands. In supplication. Prayers are a last refuge for a man to stay poised and hope for the best. The next day brought a welcome breeze; the condition of the leader is stable. A few hours later, Pakistan High Commissioner Basit Khan’s visiting him in the hospital, massaging his shoulder gently and taking his hand in his own, not only signalled the love and respect Pakistan holds Geelani sahib with (in Pakistan embassy in Delhi, prayers were held for the speedy recovery of the Kashmiri leader also), it brought happy tide that he has survived the shock and is recouping fast.
We grow up watching, listening and then interacting and, on occasions, dissenting, even vehemently criticizing him. He is not above criticism. Different people commented differently on and against him. Some from the clean unbiased heart, others having their spears poisoned in jealousy and party rivalry. But no one can challenge his integrity, his resilience, his commitment. The goal post he fixed, from the day he was overwhelmed by the feel-worse scenario, refused change, even slightly, till the time his deteriorating health tremored people into awe.
From the lisping moments he emerged on the political scene to the now acknowledged symbol of resistance he blossomed up, the frail nonagenarian leader doggedly remained loyal to his conviction. No force could cringe him to change his stand, nor any tantalizing bait seduced him to fall in trap. The power-intoxicated exhausted with all political machinations and suppressive gimmicks that were in their armoury. Against all kinds of sophistry he struggled, and succeeded, to keep intact the virginity of his commitment. Where all others went grovelling to please Musharraf to support his four point fiasco, he stared at him in defense of his stand and unmindful of raised eyebrows. Even at the pain of separation from his parental organization, he invested all his abilities, time and stamina and 50 years of his energetic life to grow to earn recognition, Geelani sahib parted from her. In floating his new party and political forum, he in all transparency clarified that Kashmir holds priority to everything else. In unambiguous terms he said, and rightly so, that this mother of all ailments unless addressed in its historical and factual perspective, offshoot treatment is bound to be counter productive. That certainly did.
As one gains more stature, tolerance level starts shrinking from him. No one can outsmart Sheikh Abdullah on turning out to be the most intolerant figure. He wont tolerate dissent. History remembers him a leader who talked through the language of force, jail, banishment. Even from the resistance umbrella, we have many of them who unleashed their muscle power on their dissenters, in particular media persons. Unlike them, the cup of tolerance from Geelani never spilled to delivering threats, abuses, much less inflicting physical harm to his critic. He gulps sour and sweet patiently and merrily.
Death, we know, keeps its own calendar. And Geelani would depart when it’s destined. But one thing is crystal clear. He has, through his unimpeachable integrity, honesty, allegiance, steadfastness and dedication for the cause carved an immortal place in the political history. At least we are washed off a black stain; that here leaders born and grow with aspirations and attaining glamorous status finally end up in devouring the sons of the’ rebellion’ they started and led from the front. That ugly page is now on the verge of disappearance. Here we have one man to point to, who remained focused on his goal, never got tempted to make compromises. Nor the bullying of the adversary dampened his nerves so as to reconcile the irreconcilable. And thus make a sell out of the precious sacrifices of the people to perpetuate the dynastic rule like what Sheikh Abdullah did. Geelani personified resistance. The people can walk proudly refer to the minaret of resistance (Minar-e- muzahamat).
This is the legacy the most sincere leader has left. And in their youthful exuberance the third generation of Kashmir are its zealous and just inheritors. Lines have been drawn now for ever. The reverence and inviolability of the clear demarcation is beyond anyone to transgress. Call it ‘rigidity’ ( in Kashmiri, kokras kuney zang, as his opposites would brand him with) or his ‘principled stand’, the great majority of people in Kashmir are beholden with his stand and they think is just and righteous.
—Courtesy: Greater Kashmir