Friends and foes accept Geelani can neither be bought nor bowed down
An epitome of courage and morality, the 89-year-old veteran Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has spent more than two decades of his life behind bars and is presently facing house arrest for more than eight years. Suffering from multiple ailments including kidney problems, heart ailment, and bronchitis, his one kidney and gallbladder were removed while half of his lone kidney was removed in 2007. Despite his illness, he is still active and is considered as the ‘most vibrant’ voice against India.
SAS Geelani, according to former Pakistani PM, is a “beacon of freedom for the people of Jammu and Kashmir” and is often described as the “hardliner” among Kashmiri separatists by Indian establishment for his firm stand on the freedom of Jammu and Kashmir. Over the years different people including his opponents have acknowledged the fact that nobody can purchase this man or stop him from asking for the right to self-determination of his nation. Here are some excerpts:
Afzal Guru who was hanged by Indian government inside Tihar Jail in 2013 said; “Allah has saved our boat from being drowned through Syed Ali Geelani. Our resistance movement is not leaderless now. Indeed he emerged as the true leader of this resistance movement. Indian imperialists used every violent and brutal means against this old leader. His sympathizers and friends were martyred and jailed. The way he was maltreated by Indian Agencies, he was also betrayed by the Pakistani government and was left alone. But despite these difficulties, not only he saved this movement and gave it a true leadership but also protected and represented the true spirit of this struggle. May Allah bless this holy man.” [Aayena by Afzal Guru, page. 72]
Zubair Turray, a militant of Hizbul Mujahideen, who was killed by Indian Army on 1st April 2018, loved SAS Geelani very much. He said; “[Syed Ali] Geelani Sahab is a valuable treasure and every Kashmir will feel his importance when he will leave this world like every human being is supposed to. [You must] Follow him.” [How Zubair Turray’s love for Geelani changed my perception about Hurriyat, Kashmir Narrator, 5th April 2018]
Dr. Mannan Wani, a Ph.D. scholar from Aligarh Muslim University who joined Hizbul Mujahideen and was martyred in October this year, wrote an open letter to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in the defense of Syed Ali Geelani after Mirwaiz used some harsh words against Geelani in a press conference in April 2014. In the letter, Dr. Mannan wrote; “Syed Ali Geelani has championed the cause of Kashmiris in every nook and corner by his every drop of blood. Whether you agree or not, but I believe that most of the Kashmiri population considers SAS Geelani as the protagonist of Kashmir cause and his words as pious as their religious scriptures. So using such a language you have not only let your image down before the eyes of Kashmiris but hurt their sentiments by disrespecting their leader.” [An open letter to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq by Mannan Wani, Words Matter! 19 March 2015]
Somehow chairman JKLF, Yasin Malik admits the fact that Syed Ali Geelani is more influential and a senior politician than him. During an interview in 2006, he was asked a question; “You are free to go anywhere in the world you like, but Syed Ali Shah Geelani can’t even move within Kashmir. He is more influential than you and a more senior politician; why is India doing this?” He replied: “I don’t know. Maybe they think Geelani sahib is a fundamentalist and they don’t like that.” [Source: Yasin Malik – A killer who has gone unpunished]
https://thekashmir.wordpress.com/2006/11/30/yasin-malik-a-killer-who-has-gone-unpunished/ (link is given to create a hyperlink)
Former IB and R&AW chief, Amarjit Singh Dulat, who has a long experience of negotiating with Kashmiris, considers SAS Geelani as a “bad news” for India. According to him “The only person who remained pro-Pakistan and therefore cannot reconcile with moderates is [Syed Ali] Geelani. Some people when they think of Hurriyat, they think of Geelani. For us he (Geelani) has been a bad news. That is why the deputy prime minister, L.K. Advani, was against talking to Geelani and restricted himself to the moderates.” [Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years by A.S. Dulat, pp. 177,178]
Farooq Abdullah of NC called SAS Geelani “a very dangerous” man while standing in state Assembly of Indian held JK in August 1989. He said; “It was my strong desire that Syed Ali Geelani should not reach assembly and I did a lot of effort for that. I also used authorities and myself went running a campaign against him in his constituency because he is a very dangerous man. But I am sorry that despite all my efforts he succeeded in reaching the assembly.” [Syed Ali Geelani Aur Un Ki Jado Jehed, (Syed Ali Geelani and his Struggle) by Syed Saleem Gardezi, State Views October 15, 2018]
Similarly, Congress leader and former Chief Minister of Indian held JK, Ghulam Nabi Azad considers SAS Geelani as “emotional”. He said; “Unfortunately, Syed Ali Shah Geelani is impractical and sentimental and is beset with just one ideology.” [The Hindu, January 05, 2006]
A senior Indian journalist Yoginder Sikand who has conducted an extensive research on Jamaat-e-Islami, Syed Ali Geelani, and Indian Muslims writes; “Syed Ali Shah Geelani commands widespread respect among his people for his firm stance on Azadi or freedom of Jammu and Kashmir from Indian rule, a stance that he has never wavered from. Geelani’s popularity among vast numbers of Kashmiri Muslims rests principally in the fact that he is seen as one Kashmiri leader who has never compromised with India, and who has had to face considerable personal privation, including long bouts of imprisonment, for denouncing what he, like many Kashmiris, regard as India’s illegal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. 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]
An Indian Muslim has written a whole book on the political struggle of Syed Ali Geelani under a pseudonym Abdul Hakeem. In his book “Paradise on Fire: Syed Ali Geelani and the Struggle for Freedom of Kashmir”, he writes; “Geelani took on the might of India and almost single-handedly put the Jammu and Kashmir dispute on the international stage. His personality can be summed up in [Nelson] Mandela’s words, ‘time and again I’ve seen men and women risk and give their lives for an idea. I have seen men standing up to torture and attacks without breaking, showing strength and resilience that defy the imagination.’ Over the course of their struggle many Kashmiri ‘pro-freedom leaders’ have sold out in one way or the other and earned the approbation of Indian establishment as moderates. Geelani, on the other hand, has always been called an extremist.” [Paradise on Fire: Syed Ali Geelani and the Struggle for Freedom in Kashmir, page. 7]
Hassan Zainagiree, a Kashmiri political analyst says; “While all others in one way or other, softened, diluted and changed their stands on Kashmir, Geelani remained loyal to the blood of martyrs.” [ibid: p. 35]
Lauren Booth, a senior British journalist, and activist, says; “For the past two decades, Syed Geelani has been the primary symbol of Kashmiri people’s efforts towards self-determination like other great fighters of our age, men who have committed themselves fighting against apartheid and occupation, Nelson Mandela and Shaykh Raed Shah of Palestine, Geelani is no stranger to incarnation. His galvanizing calls for a widespread non-violent resistance, including strikes, have seen him imprisoned for sixteen years in a variety of regional gulages.” [Foreword, Paradise on Fire, page. 4]
A well-known Pakistani analyst and columnist Haroon-ul-Rashid, who wishes to meet SAS Geelani once in his life, says; “[Syed] Ali Geelanis do not get born every day…” [Daily Dunyia, 8 July 2016]
Another Pakistani analyst and columnist Tanveer Qaisar Shahid has this to say about SAS Geelani; “Syed Ali Geelani is the most powerful, influential and voice of the freedom and resistance struggle. Allah has bestowed him with extraordinary aptitude, patience, and ability to run political parties. At such a stage of life when the human brain and body organs stop functioning properly, his activities are really astonishing. He is not only aged but surrounded by different diseases, yet he is standing like a wall against the enemies of Kashmir. He could’ve been made CM of the state by Indian authorities but he did never try to look at that chair.” [Daily Express, May 6, 2016]
Despite the fact that SAS Geelani has always opposed Indian rule in J&K, he has criticized Pakistani policies on the state of Jammu and Kashmir over the years, be it Kargil War or Pervaiz Musharraf’s Four Point formula. His firm stance on Azadi (freedom) and testimonies of his opponents has vindicated the slogan “Na jhukne wala, Geelani! Na broken wala, Geelani! (The one who doesn’t bow down, Geelani; the one who can’t be bought, Geelani!).”
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