Indian police videos of Hurriyat leader Geelani’s funeral stir fresh anger

Published September 7, 2021
Indian paramilitary soldiers set up a barbwire to block a street near the house of top separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani in Srinagar, Indian-occupied  Kashmir on Sept. 2, 2021. — AP/File
Indian paramilitary soldiers set up a barbwire to block a street near the house of top separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani in Srinagar, Indian-occupied Kashmir on Sept. 2, 2021. — AP/File

Indian security forces maintained an armed guard around the grave of Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Tuesday, amid mounting public anger over police footage of his funeral, which his family said they were barred from attending.

Indian authorities have imposed a security clampdown in the contested Himalayan region since the death of Geelani, veteran Kashmiri separatist leader and former chief of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), last week at the age of 92.

His family say the separatist icon's body was forcibly taken away and buried in the middle of the night and his sons were kept away from the last rites and burial.

Police have denied the accusations but faced fresh outrage after posting a video on Twitter Monday showing Geelani's body being washed, wrapped in a shroud and buried.

Fearing protests, his grave in Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir's main city of Srinagar is under armed guard and visitors are not allowed.

Mufti Nasirul Islam, the most senior Islamic jurist in occupied Kashmir condemned the police action as “un-Islamic”.

He told AFP the body of a deceased person must be respected even if it is a “criminal sentenced to death”.

“I think his family is hurt and the people of [occupied] Kashmir are hurt. Police should apologise for doing this,” the jurist said.

Police issued the clips after a video widely shared on social media showed Geelani's body, wrapped in a Pakistan flag, being taken away by armed police as his family scuffled with police.

Security forces then issued a statement saying Geelani's sons initially agreed to a quick funeral but changed their minds “probably under the pressure from Pakistan” and “started resorting to anti-national activities”.

It added that “after persuasion”, Geelani's relatives brought the body to the graveyard “and performed last rites with due respect”. It did not name which relatives were present.

Indian authorities cut mobile signal and the internet across the occupied territory following Geelani's death — services that have only begun coming back online since Sunday.

Geelani was once head of the Hurriyat Conference, an influential coalition of Kashmir separatist groups.

The Conference announced on Tuesday that Masarat Alam Bhat, a resistance leader who has been in an Indian jail since 2010, had been named as the new head of the coalition.

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