The death of India-administered Kashmir's separatist politician Syed Ali Shah Geelani has prompted Indian authorities to clamp down on security in the restive region. Pakistan's PM saluted "his courageous struggle."
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the cornerstone of separatist politics in Indian-administered Kashmir, has died at the age of 91.
The veteran politician, who had been ailing for some time and was under house arrest for the last 12 years, died on Wednesday night at his home in Srinagar.
Geelani was buried amid tight restrictions in the early hours of Thursday and his family was not allowed to attend the funeral which was organized by authorities, his son Naseem Geelani told DW.
"At about 3:00 a.m., police barged inside our home and took our father's body," he told the media. "We insisted that we would perform his funeral after morning prayers and bury him according to his wish at the Martyrs Cemetery."
Police officers "snatched my father's body and did not allow anyone from our family to participate in the burial," he added. "We heard later that police undertook washing rituals for my father's body and had him buried."
"It is the end of an era. Geelani's death will completely change the politics of Kashmir. It has become leaderless and there will be anarchy," said a relative of Geelani, Tanveer ul Islam Rather from north Kashmir Tragpora area.
Geelani's death has prompted Indian authorities to impose a security clampdown in Kashmir, which has long been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan, while the latter's prime minister, Imran Khan, spoke of the separatist leader's "courageous struggle" in the face of "torture by the Occupying Indian state.
To thwart protests, thousands of security forces have been deployed across Kashmir and barricades have been erected at entry and exits points of the capital city, Srinagar, and other towns to restrict the movement of the people towards Geelani's home.
A security official told DW that with Geelani's death, separatist politics in Kashmir will become faceless but difficult to manage for New Delhi. "Being a hardliner his politics was predictable but often manageable. Now separatist movement will be run under great secrecy," he said.
According to the police, mobile internet has been suspended as a precautionary measure in anticipation of anti-India protests and thousands of troops have been deployed in the region which is one of the world's most militarized zones.Volume 90%
Announcements were also made from the loudspeakers of the main mosque near the leader's house asking people to march to his residence, according to media reports.
However, the police have said no one in the Kashmir valley would be allowed to leave their houses.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said in a statement on Twitter that he was "deeply saddened'' by Geelani's death and the leader had ''struggled all his life for his people & their right to self-determination.''
New Delhi, meanwhile, is yet to react to Geelani's death.
Geelani, an Islamist author and orator, was a staunch advocate of the merger of Kashmir with Pakistan.
He had repeatedly refused to engage in any dialogue with New Delhi, saying, "India can't be trusted unless it calls Kashmir a disputed territory, demilitarizes the region and releases political prisoners for a meaningful dialogue.''
Successive Indian governments rejected Geelani’s position.
He was also a strong critic of the occasional but failed attempts of talks between India and Pakistan.
His hardline position also had critics in Kashmir.
"We may not have agreed on most things but I respect him for his steadfastness and standing by his beliefs," Mehbooba Mufti, a former chief minister of Kashmir, wrote on Twitter
Geelani started out as a school teacher before joining Kashmir’s largest religious and political party Jamat-e-Islami in the 1950s.
He resigned as a lawmaker to join the anti-India campaign in the 1980s, becoming the symbol for Kashmiri resistance.
Geelani served as the chairperson of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a conglomerate of Kashmiri political and religious groups that was formed in 1993 to lead a movement for the region's right to self-determination.
Source: DW, AFP, Reuters