Separatist leader Geelani laid to rest amid tight security in Srinagar

Representative Image

Srinagar, Sep 2: Pro-Pakistan separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani was buried near his residence quietly during the night before some of his close relatives and a posse of security forces as restrictions were imposed in the Kashmir valley for precautionary measure, which also included snapping of mobile and Internet connectivity.
The 91-year-old was buried in a graveyard located in a mosque near his residence after authorities took over the body as the family, which is believed to have initially agreed for the funeral at night, started insisting that his burial be held at Idgah in downtown of the city, officials said.
Earlier, Geelani, who was seen as a stumbling block for any peace moves for improving the situation in Kashmir and wanted its accession with Pakistan, had expressed a wish to be buried in the local mosque but he changed it to Idgah in 2020 when his health worsened.
After his death at around 11 pm on Wednesday, the family was informed about the importance of the burial at night as it could be used by anti-national elements to create a law and order situation in the Kashmir valley, the officials said.
Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range) Vijay Kumar was at Geelani’s residence and had a discussion with his two sons, Nayeem and Naseem, before it was decided to take the body to the nearby graveyard where it would be laid to rest.
The authorities, accompanied by a handful of relatives and close aides of Geelani, buried him in the graveyard adjacent to his residence.
Nayeem Geelani, his son, said the authorities took control of the body at their residence though the family wanted his burial at Idgah. “We went at around 11 am today (Thursday) and recited Fathia (prayers for the dead) at the grave,” he said.
There were reports of commotion at the separatist leader’s residence which were refuted by Kumar who said that “some vested interests tried to spread baseless rumours about forced burial of Geelani by police. Such baseless reports which are a part of false propaganda to incite violence are totally refuted by the police”.
“As a matter of fact, the police facilitated bringing the body from the house to the graveyard as there were apprehensions of miscreants taking undue advantage of the situation. The relatives of the deceased participated in the burial,” Kumar said.
Meanwhile, strict restrictions were imposed throughout the valley to prevent people from assembling and there was a heavy deployment of security forces to thwart any untoward incident.
“Deployments were in position and the situation was monitored and reviewed very closely. There was no untoward incident reported from any part of the valley,” Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Dilbag Singh said.
The security officials cited two reasons for justifying the night burial and not allowing larger participation of people. The COVID-19 pandemic and that intelligence reports suggested some terror groups and anti-national elements could use his funeral to create a law and order situation in the valley, they said.
In 1990, terrorists had fired at security forces during the funeral of Mirwaiz Farooq, religious head and father of Hurriyat Conference (moderate) chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, and in the crossfire, 60 people were killed.
Kumar thanked and appreciated the general public for its cooperation in maintaining a peaceful situation in the valley, saying it defeated the ill-designs of inimical elements who are hell-bent on disturbing the, otherwise, calm atmosphere in the valley.
Mobile phone services, barring postpaid connections of state-run BSNL, and the Internet were shut down as a precautionary measure to prevent rumours and fake news from circulating.
“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,” the IGP said.
Barricades had been erected at various places and all vehicles were being thoroughly checked.
The IGP also appealed to the public not to pay heed to rumours being spread by anti-national elements, especially those across the border, who were trying to take undue advantage of the situation to disturb the peaceful atmosphere in the valley. (Agencies)