By Arun Joshi
Kashmir’s top separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani passed away late Wednesday night bringing down curtains on a chapter of vocal secessionism and his death symbolizes that how Pakistan uses Kashmiri leaders and then dumps them.
Geelani , who not long ago , symbolized “ love for Pakistan” in Kashmir, died as a man completely betrayed by Pakistan .
This is the legacy that he has left behind , ‘ never trust Pakistan for it only knows how to exploit Kashmiris . He was made helpless in his life time and he was not allowed to work out a solution by talking to Delhi , he was held hostage to overall design of Pakistan to keep Kashmir on boil and whenever he attempted to smoothen the things , and which he did in 2010 , he was prevented by the Pakistani establishment .
In August 2010 , at the height of street protests in which more than 100 people had died , he had suggested a five-point formula to resolve the Kashmir issue . the conditions were : “ India should admit Kashmir as a “ dispute”, repeal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act , demilitarization and an end to the killings in the Valley and punishment for all the men in uniform responsible for killings
In 2017 , he had echoed Vajpayee in a video in which he had stated it quite categorically , “We want India to exhibit ‘insaniyat ( humanity) , Kashmiriyat ( mutual coexistence ), jamhooriyat’ ( democracy ).. We want nothing else.” This is exactly what former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had mooted as the way forward to seek solution to Kashmir crisis way back in 2000.
With his death all these propositions have died and also exposed that how Pakistan sabotaged Delhi-Srinagar dialogue time and again.
Geelani who for almost five decades had been the loudest pro-Pakistan campaigner in Kashmir and a leader who believed and propagated “ jihad” for what he called “ freedom from occupation “ died as man completely disillusioned with Pakistan . In his last letter in June 2020 in which he announced his resignation from his own faction of the Hurriyat Conference , he had chastised Pakistan for interfering in the organizational structure of the separatist camp and imposing its men and ideas on the conglomerate .
He never recovered from the shock , though Pakistan tried to placate him by announcing the highest civilian award “ “ Nishan-e-Pakistan” for him in July 2020, but Geelani refused to bite the bait and continued to maintain his distance from Pakistan and its ideology toward Kashmir.
Several questions have cropped up after his death,, and the top most among them is ,” who will fill his space?” There is hardly anyone in his faction of the Hurriyat Conference to step into his shoes . Neither any one has the experience of the rumble-tumble of the Kashmir politics nor the stamina to follow a particular ideology . It is particularly so after the August 5 decisions when the government of India scrapped special status of Jammu and Kashmir and accompanied it with the crackdown on the political leaders, particularly separatists . Geelani himself was under house arrest for a number of years. There are not many who would like to come forward to don the mantle of Geelani out of sheer fear and the lack of conviction .
The atmosphere has changed . post- August 5, 2019 , the people are shy of talking of separatism or challenging the Indian nationalistic narrative that everything was fine in the Valley and the security situation has improved . They know that there are consequences for challenging the writ of the state, moreover, they have seen that how Pakistan treated Geelani .
Pakistan , however, has started a campaign to own Geelani as their man who “ struggled with courage for the people of Kashmir”. Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced official mourning and declared that “ Pakistani flag will fly half-mast”.
This is the mischief that Pakistan has played all along . Now, they know that Geelani’s death has stirred sentiments in sections of Kashmiris , it is now trying to play on that sentiment to show that it stands by them in solidarity. In reality, it is a fiction . Geelani epitomizes the betrayal by Pakistan at all stages.
About the Author:
Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with it.