Newspaper Article 07/09/2023
Syed Ali Shah Geelani never gave up on the principled stance of Kashmiri right of self-determination. Geelani, a staunch advocate of Kashmir struggle, fought the battle through peaceful means. His political struggle spanned more than 70 years. During these years, he promoted the cause of Kashmiri right of self-determination from various political platforms, like Jamaat-e-Islami (Jammu and Kashmir), Muslim United Front, All Parties Hurriyat Conference and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.
Through his writings, he reached out to India. He wrote to Indian parliament, “I am addressing you on behalf of my people, who have been striving for peace, justice, freedom and dignity. During these years we have suffered immensely at the hands of your armed forces, who are implementing the policy of subjugation and control over our lives, resources, culture and dignity.” Syed Geelani also wrote to the Parliament of Pakistan. “We are grateful for the support of the Pakistani people and expect that politicians and all sections of the Pakistani society will continue to extend its moral, political and diplomatic support to the Jammu and Kashmir freedom struggle,” he wrote.
Geelani was imprisoned by India a number of times. In his later years of life, the brave Kashmiri leader was imprisoned in his home where he embraced martyrdom on September 1, 2021. The acts of suppression by India, the so-called world’s biggest democracy, shows how justice is being buried alive.
Geelani’s stepping into politics in 1952 was to chalk out a way forward for the Kashmiri people. Geelani had studied Islamic theology and was an educationist. He wrote 30 books. Some of his writings, like Nava-e-Hurriyat, reflected upon the Kashmir struggle. He had also written memoirs of his captivity in the form of a book called Rudad Cage. Geelani had observed India from close quarters. His experience of Indian jails and the forceful occupation of Jammu and Kashmir were all reflective of Indian barbarism. His pro-Pakistan orientation was to secure a peaceful future for the people of Kashmir. He once said, “Hum Pakistani Hain, Pakistan Hamara Hai.”
Geelani expressed his displeasure over Sheikh Abdullah’s pro-India policy. He is regarded as an unparalleled icon of resistance to India’s illegal occupation of Kashmir. The Kashmiri youth call him Baba-e-Hurriyat, the man who challenged India and remained resolute against the illegal occupation despite the hardships.
People like Geelani are the true face of Kashmir struggle. In November 2010, during a seminar in New Delhi, he presented the truth of Kashmir plight before intellectuals, journalists, human rights activists and politicians. In response, the Indian government charged him with treason.
New Delhi, by abrogating Articles 370 and 35-A of the Indian constitution, has further made life hell for the Kashmiris. The Indian troops deployed in the region have been given carte blanche to interfere with the lives and properties of Kashmiris. A report by Human Rights Watch stated that as of October 2022, 229 killings have been reported in the region. The arrests of Kashmiri journalists have become a norm. Indian government has taken over the Kashmir Press Club. Moreover, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been deactivated. All these steps have led to an information vacuum in the occupied territory. This speaks of the Hindu fascist outlook.
In the light of India’s inhuman acts in IIOJK, one can say what Baba-e-Hurriyat Syed Ali Shah Geelani had envisioned for the people of Kashmir was correct. He had a progressive vision for the people of Kashmir. His struggle for Kashmir is a message for the world that justice cannot be suppressed through forceful means. His unwavering struggle and sacrifice will continue to be a legacy for the people suffering at the hands of fascist regimes — be it in India or any other country. The world must look at the Kashmir dispute from the lens of humanity. India’s violation of UNSC resolutions and its forceful occupation of Jammu and Kashmir is a threat to regional peace. India must end the state terrorism in IIOJK and give Kashmiris their democratic right to live and prosper.
Long live the legacy of Baba-e-Hurriyat!
Note: This article appeared in Tribune, dated 07 September 2023.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are of the author and do not necessarily represent Institute’s policy.