05 September 2021

Kashmir leader’s family investigated under India anti-terror law

05 September 2021

Police in India -controlled Kashmir have opened a case against family members of late resistance leader Syed Ali Geelani under a harsh anti-terror law, for allegedly raising anti-India slogans and wrapping his body in the Pakistani flag, officials said Sunday.

Mr Geelani, who died on Wednesday at the age of 91, was the emblem of Kashmir’s defiance against New Delhi and had been under house arrest for years.

His son, Naseem, said Indian authorities buried Mr Geelani in a local cemetery without any family members present after police snatched his body from the home.

Police denied the claims, calling them “baseless rumours” by “some vested interests”.

Relatives of Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani arrive at his home in Srinagar following his death at the age of 91 (Mukhtar Khan/AP) (AP)

A video widely shared on social media purportedly showed Mr Geelani’s relatives, mostly women, frantically trying to prevent armed police from forcing their way into the room where his body, wrapped in a Pakistani flag, was being kept.

It showed women wailing and screaming as police took the body and locked his family and relatives inside the room.

Police said they registered a case against unspecified family members and some others on Saturday and began investigating under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. They have not yet been taken into custody.

The anti-terror law was amended in 2019 to allow the government to designate an individual as a terrorist. Police can detain a person for six months without producing any evidence, and the accused can subsequently be imprisoned for up to seven years. Rights activists have called the law draconian.

Kashmir has long been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan, which administer parts of the region while claiming it entirely.

Indian police ride armoured vehicles after dispersing Kashmiri protesters during day-long security restrictions in Srinagar (Dar Yasin/AP) (AP)

Mr Geelani spearheaded Kashmir’s movement for the right to self-determination and was a staunch proponent of merging Kashmir with Pakistan. For many in Kashmir and beyond, he was an enduring symbol of defiance against India.

Rebels have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. The region is one of the most heavily militarised in the world, and tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the raging conflict.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, authorities eased some restrictions that had been imposed since Mr Geelani’s death, allowing some private vehicles on roads and vendors to operate in some parts of Srinagar.

Mobile phones were restored late on Friday but mobile internet and restrictions on the movement of people continued in many parts of the Kashmir Valley.

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