ISLAMABAD: Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir Shehryar Khan Afridi on Friday wrote letters to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and high commissioner of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Michelle Jeria, calling for an impartial but immediate UN investigation into the custodial killing of Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, desecration of his body and registration of criminal cases against his family members.
Talking to reporters after delivering the letters to the United Nations Military Observers’ Group in Pakistan (UNMOGIP), Mr Afridi said the UN secretary general must order an immediate investigation into the custodial killing of Syed Ali Geelani which is part of a series of custodial killings of Kashmiri leaders.
Member of the committee Senator Sarfraz Bugti besides Hurriyat Conference leaders Faiz Naqshbandi and Farooq Rehmani were also present on the occasion.
“Hurriyat leaders are being killed in custody by the illegal occupational regime of India in Jammu and Kashmir under the garb of the Covid-19 pandemic. Had the UN investigated the custodial murder of Ashraf Khan Sehrai, Geelani’s life could have been saved. Now we fear that other imprisoned Kashmiri leaders including the new APHC chief Massarat Alam Bhat, Syed Shabbir Shah, Yasin Malik, Asiya Andrabi, Dr Qasim Faktu and others may also be killed the same way,” he said.
There is a design to kill all top iconic pro-freedom Kashmiri leaders and Mr Geelani is the second such high profile killing, Mr Afridi claimed, adding that Mr Geelani’s long time comrade and successor, Tehreek-i-Hurriyat Chairman Mohammad Ashraf Khan Sehrai was also killed in custody earlier this year. He was kept in India’s mainland jail where Covid-19 was raging and millions of people were dying.
“This loss may turn out to obstruct Kashmiri people’s voice and compromise their long struggle for freedom. I would also like to bring to attention here the matter in which Mr Geelani’s death was handled by the occupational Indian government where they shut down the internet across the Kashmir valley and beefed-up security forces when word of his death spread,” he said.
Jammu and Kashmir police snatched Mr Geelani’s body from his family members, hours after he died and deprived the bereaved family their right to hold a funeral, for a resistance leader who could once summon thousands of people into the streets to protest.
“As if it was not enough, the Indian Illegally Occupied regime in Jammu and Kashmir has booked the family members of Syed Ali Geelani under black law called the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for resisting the Indian forces’ bid to snatch the body of Mr Geelani. Though UAPA is an anti-terrorism law, the Indian regime has been misusing this law against civilians and rights activists. More recently, Mr Geelani’s family is the latest victim of this law.
“Against this backdrop, we fear Kashmiri voices will further be muffled and jailed Kashmiri leaders would be killed the same way. In absence of their fast-disappearing leaders, how will the Kashmiri people exercise their fundamental rights of freedom of expression, hold the government to account, and channel critical information on violations of human rights in the valley,” he added.
Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2021