A Resilient Geelani
Mohammad Umar Bhat
Personal life Born in Bandipora village and brought up in Sopore town of Kashmir, Geelani completed his higher education from oriental collage Lahore, with strong hold on various languages and an author to at least 34 books. He has translated Alama Iqbal’s Persian work into the Urdu language.Lifetime chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and former head of Jamaat-e-Islami and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, has been house arrested from last 11 years, with different ailments including kidney problems, heart ailment, and bronchitis, his one kidney and gallbladder were removed recently, nonagenarian pro-freedom leader of Kashmir is seen as freedom icon of Kashmir with former PM of Pakistan calling him as “beacon of freedom for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and staunch opponent of union with India. Political views Staunch pro-Pakistani leader, He does not believe in an idea of an independent Kashmir, although according to him independence is preferable over “Indian imperialism”. He is an ideologue who believes Kashmir should be an Islamic state within a theocratic Pakistan. Geelani is seen as living Pakistan in Indian Territory. Spent over two decades behind bars, Geelani was first time detained in 1962, Geelani personally believes in a political solution of Kashmir dispute but praised local freedom fighters who are fighting with the occupational forces. He also led the funeral in absentia of Shaheed Afzal Guru who was hanged by the Indian government in Tihar jail in 2013 in Eidgah Srinagar. When other Hurriyat leaders softened their approach towards Delhi, Geelani remained firm on his stance and broke away with Hurriyat Conference and formed separate party named Tehreek-e Hurriyat which demands that, Kashmir must be recognized as disputed territory, and the dispute must be resolved by a plebiscite held according to the resolutions passed by the United Nations in 1948.A senior Indian journalist Yoginder Sikand who has conducted an extensive research on Jamaat-e-Islami, Syed Ali Geelani, and Indian Muslims writes; unlike other noted Kashmiri Muslim leaders, he is regarded as “honest”, “committed”, to have never compromised his stand on freedom from India. It would not be an exaggeration to claim that he is regarded by many Kashmiri Muslims as the unparalleled icon of their resistance to Indian rule.” (Azadi!: Syed Ali Shah Gilani and the Movement for Political Self-Determination for Jammu and Kashmir by Yoginder Sikand pp. 1, 33) He survived 12 assassination attempts in the past 20 years, supporter of two nation theory, who believes in the complete merger of Jammu and Kashmir State with Pakistan, Former IB and R&AW chief, Amarjit Singh Dulat, considers SAS Geelani as a “bad news” for India. About Pakistan He is said to be very close to the Pakistani government but did not shy away from criticizing Pakistani policies regarding Kashmir especially Kargil episode. While commenting on Kargil situation he said that while Pakistan had been supporting “the indigenous struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, morally, diplomatically and politically … this does not mean Pakistan can take a decision on our behalf”. Geelani is the only Kashmiri leader who confronted then Pakistani president Gen Parvaiz Musharaff and rejected his 4 point formula and even said that Musharraf has “lost self-confidence” While addressing a press conference in Srinagar. For many young Kashmiri people, Geelani is a seen as Omar Mukhtar, the Libyan freedom fighter who fought Italian occupiers in Libya, who has never compromised.