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India Prepares For Unrest After Death Of Kashmiri Separatist Leader Syed Ali Geelani

Syed Ali Geelani (center) was under house arrest for most of the past 11 years.
Syed Ali Geelani (center) was under house arrest for most of the past 11 years.

Kashmiri separatist icon Syed Ali Geelani, a veteran leader of resistance against Indian rule, has died at the age of 92.

After a lengthy illness, Geelani died on September 1 at his home in Srinagar, the region’s main city. He had been under house arrest for most of the past 11 years.

Indian authorities immediately imposed a security clampdown across Kashmir, telling people not to leave their homes.

Thousands of security forces were deployed and mobile Internet services cut in anticipation of anti-India protests and masses trying to attend his funeral.

Troops put up barbed wire and barricades on roads leading to Geelani's house.

AFP reported announcements were made from loudspeakers of the main mosque near Geelani's residence asking people to march toward it.

India and Pakistan control different parts of the Muslim-majority Himalayan region but both claim it in whole.

The nuclear-armed rivals have fought two of their three wars since independence in 1947 over Kashmir.

Tens of thousands of people have died since an insurgency against Indian rule erupted nearly three decades ago. India blames Pakistan for supporting the insurgency.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan paid tribute to Geelani, writing on Twitter that he was "deeply saddened" at the death of the "Kashmiri freedom fighter."

Khan said that Geelani had "struggled all his life for his people and their right to self-determination. He suffered incarceration and torture by the occupying Indian state but remained resolute."

Geelani had been active in Kashmiri separatist politics since the 1950s, when he began campaigning for the territory's merger with Pakistan.

He was known as a hard-line opponent of compromise talks with India, putting him sometimes at odds with more moderate figures willing to negotiate with New Delhi.

He served as a lawmaker in the region but quit to join the anti-India campaign in the late 1980s.

For his activities, he spent nearly 15 years in Indian prisons and years under various forms of house arrest.

He was a key figure in the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a group set up in 1993 to provide a political platform for seceding from India in the wake of an armed revolt against New Delhi.

The group used civil disobedience in the form of shutdowns and protests as a tactic to counter Indian rule.

In August 2019, when India stripped the region's semi-autonomy, Indian authorities harshly clamped down on the group’s leaders, detaining scores of them and barring them from leading public protests.

Last year, Geelani quit his the Hurriyat Conference faction, saying that it had failed to counter New Delhi's efforts to tighten its grip on the disputed region.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters