Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the Hurriyat founder who became the face of Kashmiri separatist politics
Srinagar | Jagran News Desk: Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the former chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference who was the face of the separatist politics in Jammu and Kashmir, passed away on late Wednesday night at his residence in Srinagar. He was 91-year-old. Geelani, who left the Hurriyat in 2020 amid differences over Centre's stance on the abrogation of Article 370, is survived by two sons (Nayeem and Naseem) and six daughters (Anisha, Farhat Jabeen, Zamshida and Chamshida).
Born on September 29, 1929, in Jammu and Kashmir's Bandipora district, Geelani got his primary education at Sopore and later completed his graduation from the Oriental College in Pakistan's Lahore. After completing his education, Geelani worked as a teacher for few years before joining the Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamic movement founded in 1941 by Syed Abul Ala Maududi.
Entry into politics
Geelani entered politics in the 1970s and went on to become an MLA thrice -- 1972, 1977 and 1987. However, Geelani became a face of pro-separatist politics in Jammu and Kashmir following the eruption of militancy in the 1990s. Omar Abdullah, the eighth chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, had once blamed him for the rise in militancy in the Valley.
On March 9, 1993, Geelani, along with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mehmood Ahmed Saghar, founded the Hurriyat Conference, a separatist amalgam of 26 parties but fell out with the moderates who advocated dialogue with the Centre for resolution of the Kashmir problem.
The face of pro-separatist politics in Jammu and Kashmir
In 2003, Geelani launched his own Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Kashmir after a split in the party. He also launched his own faction of the Hurriyat after bickering with moderates over the allegations of proxy participation in the 2002 Assembly elections by the People's Conference led by Sajad Lone.
Geelani, along with several journalists and activists, was also charged under "sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between classes), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration), 504 (insult intended to provoke breach of peace) and 505 (false statement, rumour circulated with intent to cause mutiny or offence against public peace...)" in November 2010.
In June 2020, Geelani had left the Hurriyat and claimed that it did not rise to the occasion after Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated the state into two union territories (UTs) -- Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Geelani's health issues
Geelani was suffering from kidney-related ailments since 2002 and had one of his kidneys removed due to problems. He was also diagnosed with renal cancer and his condition had worsened in 2007. His health deteriorated over the past 18 months.
Posted By: Aalok Sensharma