“We are Pakistanis and Pakistan is us”, “Go India, Go Back” and “Yahaan Kya Chalega, Nizam-e-Mustafa”. These are some of the hyperbolic anti-India slogans that Syed Ali Shah Geelani—a pro-Pakistani separatist who died at the age of 92 in Srinagar on September 1, 2021 (Wednesday)—used to promote his brainwashed agenda of separatism and radicalization through the years.
Among the millions of unsung victims of Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s selfish agenda are the Kashmiri youth, who have been radicalized, led astray and turned into mere cannon fodder. Due to SAS Geelani’s concept of so-called “Independence”, the common Kashmiris were robbed of a normal life and the paradise on earth, Kashmir, was marred by years of death and destruction.
According to an estimate, Geelani kept Kashmir on hartals (strikes) for more than 2,928 days, which is more than eight years. The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries estimated a business loss of Rs 130 crore (USD $20 million) during each day of the strike called by Geelani. In June 2010, Geelani launched a protest calendar asking ordinary Kashmiris to stock essentials in order to prepare for a long drawn anti-India protest programme. He asked people to draw anti-India graffiti on the streets of Kashmir and post provocative slogans on social media networking websites.
In 2016, following Burhan Wani’s elimination, around 31 school buildings were gutted at the behest of SAS Geelani. In December 2010, Jammu and Kashmir Police claimed that SAS Geelani had paid Rs 4 million to Masarat Alam—another anti-India separatist—to fuel strong protests and stone pelting across the Kashmir Valley. Geelani also played an important role and encouraged young boys to attack the camps of Indian security forces during protests and strikes. The agents of Geelani’s Tehreek-e-Hurriyat collected money, which came through multiple channels including drug smugglers, hawala and illegal transfers from Pakistan, by visiting some other states and also receiving funds via internet banking for spearheading violence on the streets of Kashmir.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani Geelani was ruthless to even his own people. Whenever he felt a public intellectual was rising, someone who spoke truth and could become his competition, he used to get them eliminated. Professor Abdul Gani Lone was one among the many victims of SAS Geelani’s insidious acts. Prof. Abdul Gani Lone pushed for the ouster of foreign terrorists from Kashmir while SAS Geelani always welcomed them. This tiff between the two led to the killing of Abdul Gani Lone on May 21, 2002.
The previous central and state governments in J&K unconstitutionally funded Geelani under the cover of relief and facilities coupled with security and other perks. When Geelani was suffering from kidney cancer in Ranchi jail where he was under detention in 2004, the Government of India ensured he was operated upon in AIIMS at public expense. Over the years, the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, which enjoyed power in Jammu Kashmir for a long time, acted as B-teams of Geelani’s Tehreek-e-Hurriyat and did not leave any stone unturned to ensure that Geelani enjoys government perks including medical expenses, accommodation and travel.
On August 5, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a loud and clear message to Pakistan—that its mindless conspiracies and hate propaganda will have no place in Kashmir and our glorious nation. Following the constitutional changes, terror financing came under assault by the unrelenting efforts of the national investigation agencies. With the crackdown on illegal money transfer and laundering, the incidents of stone pelting that depended on hawala money have abated.
In the last four days since Geelani’s death, the entire Kashmir Valley has remained peaceful. The increasing disassociation of the people of Kashmir from separatist and violent activities is a positive validation of the work that has been done and the clearest indicator of the progress made in the ‘war on terror’.
The author is a columnist and founder of Trailblazers Research Foundation. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.