Syed Ali Geelani laid to rest in the dead of night

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Syed Ali Shah Geelani
Syed Ali Shah Geelani

SRINAGAR — The senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who passed away on Wednesday evening at his Srinagar residence, was laid to rest in the dead of the night as Kashmir on Thursday woke up to stringent curfew and communication blockade.

Geelani, 92, breathed his last after developing serious breathing issues at his Rehmatabad, Hyderpora, Srinagar residence on Wednesday evening. Soon after the news of his death spread across Srinagar, senior officers of police and the CRPF rushed to Hyderpora and sealed his residence and ordered the deployment of large number of security forces to prevent law and order issue.

The aged separatist leader was under house detention since 2008. His health started falling fast since past two years. Geelani had parted ways from the Hurriyat Conference last year.

A close relative of Geelani told news agency Kashmir News Observer that they had planned a funeral and burial of the aged separatist leader post Fajr (pre-dawn) prayers, but police scuttled their plan. “Policemen barged into our house at 3:30 AM (Thursday) and snatched the body of Geelani sahib and buried him at a graveyard outside our house. We resisted and so did our women, but to no avail. Two sons of Geelani sahib couldn’t attend the burial,” alleged the relative of the deceased leader, wishing not to be quoted by name.

The allegations were, however, out-rightly refuted by the police. Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Vijay Kumar told KNO that reported allegations against Police are baseless. “In fact, Police facilitated in bringing the body (of Geelani) from house to graveyard as there was apprehension that miscreants might take undue advantage of the situation. Relatives participated in last rites,” he said.

Witnesses told KNO that only a few relatives were present at the burial that too in presence of a large number of police and paramilitary CRPF personnel. “Geelani sahib was laid to rest in a local graveyard barely 300 meters away from his Hyderpora residence,” they said.

After the silent burial of the veteran separatist leader, the authorities on early morning on Thursday snapped mobile communication and internet on all platforms. BSNL was the only tele-communication company that allowed voice-calling on its network.

People woke up to see stringent curfew in place. Witnesses said that early morning, a huge deployment of police and paramilitary personnel was made on Srinagar roads and all roads leading to Hyderpora were sealed while the Downtown area of the city was put under strict curbs.

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“Rolls of concertina wires were placed on roads and no one was allowed to venture out,” said Abdur Rahim Bhat, a resident of Nowhatta area of Downtown. “This was for the first time after Article 370 revocation that such strict curbs were in place in Srinagar,” he said.

Witnesses said that only vehicles that were supposed to reach Srinagar airport were allowed to proceed after thorough checking and questioning of passengers.

A cab driver, who was ferrying two Delhi-bound passengers, said that today’s restrictions were reminiscent of the one witnessed in Srinagar post Article 370 revocation. “I was stopped at multiple locations till I reached the airport,” he said.

“I faced difficulties in reaching the hotel where I was supposed to pick the two passengers as phones were not working,” he added.

Eerie calm amid huge forces’ deployment across Kashmir

Hundreds of security forces personnel were deployed in Srinagar and other parts of valley while as all modes of communication including mobile internet and voice calling was snapped on Thursday in the wake of death of the senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

Soon after the news of his death spread across Srinagar, police and CRPF in riot gears deployed its men across the length. An eerie calm prevailing in Srinagar and elsewhere in Kashmir in the wake of huge forces’ presence to prevent law and order issue or the large gathering on the aged leader’s funeral.

A witness told news agency Kashmir News Observer that Srinagar roads were dotted with police and paramilitary CRPF personnel, wearing riot gear. “Outside the Hyderpora residence of Geelani, there was huge deployment of police and CRPF men since Wednesday evening. Roads leading to the Geelani’s Hyderpora residence were sealed with concertina wires,” he said.

Srinagar roads, as per a witness, wore a deserted look as only security forces’ vehicles could be seen making rounds. Public transport was off the roads and all the shops and other commercial establishments remained shut in the wake of strict curbs imposed by the authorities.

A police official told KNO that they had directions to seal all entry and exit points within Srinagar to prevent any large gathering at the funeral of Geelani. “This was a precautionary measure to maintain peace,” he said.

Speaking to reporters outside Geelani’s Hyderpora residence late on Wednesday evening, IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar had said that they will impose curbs and shut the internet and mobile phone voice-calling. BSNL, however, allowed its subscribers to use its voice-calling service but shut its internet facility on the network.

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Srinagar came to a grinding halt owing to the stringent curbs put in place by the authorities.

Afaq Ahmed, a resident of Abi-Guzar area near Lal Chowk, said that the city centre had turned into a “ghost town” as one could spot only men in uniform were seen roaming around.

Restrictions to continue tomorrow across Kashmir, say officials

Strict curbs will remain in place in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir on Friday in the wake of death of senior separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, officials said on Thursday.

An official told the news agency Kashmir News Observer that restrictions will continue to remain in place in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir on Friday as well as a “precautionary measure.”

“Since its Friday, there are apprehensions that some vested interests may disrupt the peaceful atmosphere. So restrictions will remain in force tomorrow (Friday),” the official said.

On restoring the mobile phone connectivity, he said decision to restore mobile communications in Kashmir will be taken in a review meeting scheduled to be held Friday evening.

Meanwhile, IGP Kashmir said that today the situation across the valley remained peaceful and no any untoward incident was reported.

“Pertinently, some vested interests tried to spread baseless rumours about forcible burial of SAS Geelani by Police. Such baseless reports which are as a part of false propaganda to incite violence are totally refuted by the police. As a matter of fact, Police instead facilitated in bringing the dead-body from house to graveyard as there were apprehensions of miscreants taking undue advantage of the situation. The relatives of the deceased participated in the burial,” he said.

IGP Kashmir thanked and appreciated the co-operation of the general public in maintaining the peaceful situation throughout the valley which defeated the ill designs of inimical elements who are hell-bent to disturb the otherwise peaceful atmosphere in the valley.

“It is also pertinent to mention that similar restrictions and internet shutdown will continue tomorrow. We shall review the situation tomorrow afternoon and take further course of action,” he said.

He said general public is requested not to pay heed to the rumours being spread by the anti-national elements, especially across the border who are trying to take undue advantage of the situation and to disturb the peaceful atmosphere in valley.

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