Srinagar: Pro-Pakistan leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s death has brought to an end a chapter of anti-India and separatist politics in Kashmir.
Born on September 29, 1929 in a village in Bandipora district, Geelani completed his education from Oriental College, Lahore. He worked as a teacher for few years before joining Jamaat-e-Islami.
Geelani, who was seen as a hawk among the separatist leadership of Kashmir, went on to become an MLA three times from Sopore constituency.
He won the assembly elections in 1972, 1977 and 1987. Geelani, however, became an anti-election spearhead following the eruption of militancy in Kashmir in 1990.
He was one of the founder-members of 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.
He launched his own Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Kashmir in 2003 following a vertical split in the Hurriyat Conference that he is believed to have engineered. He launched his own faction of the Hurriyat after bickering with moderates over the allegations of proxy participation in 2002 Assembly elections by People’s Conference led by Sajad Lone.
However, Geelani said good bye to Hurriyat politics in June 2020 saying the second rung leadership did not rise to the occasion following abrogation of Article 370 by the Centre in 2019.
He was suffering from kidney-related ailments since 2002 and had one of his kidneys removed due to problems. Geelani’s health deteriorated over the past 18 months.
Despite being anti-mainstream politicians, Geelani was seen as well cultured and a civilised politician. His death drew condolences from even Sajad Lone, who once accused Geelani of making instigating statements that led to his father Abdul Gani Lone’s killing.
“Heartfelt condolences to the family of Syed Ali Shah Geelani Sahib. Was an esteemed colleague of my late father. May Allah grant him Jannat,” Sajad Lone said.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti also condoled his death.