Close relative says Indian police forcibly took custody of body, barred family from funeral
ANKARA (AA) – Amid restrictions on people’s movement and internet and cellular services, Indian police took the body of Kashmir’s top leader Syed Ali Geelani and buried him under its custody in the capital Srinagar early on Thursday.
A close relative of Geelani, asking to remain anonymous, told Anadolu Agency over the phone from Srinagar that Indian police and paramilitary authorities raided the house of the deceased leader in the dead of the night and insisted the deceased leader be “buried silently.”
“Family members resisted as they wanted to bury Geelani after Fajr Namaz (pre-dawn Muslim prayers),” the relative said. Indian police are yet to issue a statement on the events that unfolded following the death of Geelani.
Geelani, 91, died on Wednesday evening, triggering widespread mourning in the disputed region.
Pakistan has declared a state mourning to mark the demise of the Kashmiri leader, who until recently led All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) – a grouping of over two dozen pro-freedom parties in the Indian-administered Kashmir that seek the right to self-determination.
Indian police announced restrictions against people moving towards the residence of Geelani who lived in the capital city’s uptown Hyderpora area, along the Srinagar International Airport Road.
“The Indian forces insisted that Geelani be buried silently with low participation in funeral prayers and later they forcibly took custody of Geelani Sahab’s body barring anyone from the family or relatives to attend the funeral,” said the relative.
Geelani had wished to be buried in Martyrs Graveyard Srinagar – Kashmir’s largest cemetery.
“But police forcibly buried him at a local graveyard in Hyderpora, near the main mosque – some 200 meters from Geelani’s residence – in the presence of graveyard committee members and cops who were not wearing the uniform,” said the relative.
He added the funeral prayers and burial process was completed around 5:00 a.m. today (2330GMT, Wednesday). “The number of funeral participants was around 20 to 30.”
NetBlocks, an international internet services observatory, said in a statement: “Internet disrupted in Kashmir as authorities impose security measures following the death of separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani.”
“His family was asked to carry out the burial at night as a precautionary measure as intelligence reports suggested that some anti-national elements may use this to create a law and order situation in the Kashmir Valley,” India’s PTI News agency reported.
“Officials said that authorities took Geelani’s body and buried him according to rituals at the graveyard of the mosque under heavy police protection,” the PTI added.
After starting his political career from Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir and later joining the APHC, Geelani launched Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (Movement for Freedom) in 2004 along with another prominent leader Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, who died in custody in May this year.
For the most part of the last decade, Geelani was put under house arrest at his Hyderpora residence. He was suffering from many ailments, including heart-related issues.
“Indian forces are deployed all around the Hyderpora house. No one is allowed to move near the residence nor allowed to enter it,” said the relative.
“We strongly condemn the barbaric act of snatching of mortal remains of Syed Ali Geelani from his family by Indian occupation forces. The international community must take note of this egregious situation in IIOJK (Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir) and hold India to account for its breaches of international human rights and humanitarian laws,” said Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry in a statement on Thursday.