Politics

With Separatist Leader Geelani Ailing, Hurriyat – and Government – Prepare for the End

The Pakistan based office of the APHC has issued a press release announcing routes for his funeral procession "in the event of the supreme leader's demise".

New Delhi: With the health of separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani deteriorating, the Hurriyat and the government have drawn up plans to prepare for the aftermath.

But if the separatist organisation is preparing for the worst, even circulating routes for the leader’s namaz-e-janaza in different parts of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, the government is seeking to tamp down on speculation about any imminent demise but has also drawn up contingency plans for a total clampdown.

On Wednesday, the Pakistan office of the All Party Hurriyat Conference issued a press release stating that Geelani, who is under house arrest, is not responding to treatment. “In addition to the general physical weakness he has been experiencing for some time now, his chest infection is not satisfactorily responding to treatment. Thus, a state of complete uncertainty prevails,” said the press note dated February 12.

The Hurriyat press release, signed by Saiyyed Abdullah Gilani in Islamabad, further asserted, “So under these circumstances we can only pray and hope for the best and, at the same time. remain prepared for the worst”.

Claiming that the government will impose total curfew and block all communication after Geelani’s death, the Hurriyat release stated that people should “immediately rush towards Eidgah where the funeral will be held”. A detailed route plan was also attached for people to attend the funeral.

Giving more details of the plans, the separatist organisation stated that the funeral prayers on the second day would be led by Geelani’s eldest son and that all religious obligations would be conducted by the family.

“The people should be respectful and compassionate to each other and be vigilant of any mischief and accident. Kindly ensure your full cooperation to the volunteers,” said the press release.

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The press release was almost certainly issued with the backing if not prompting of the Pakistani establishment.

Though the ‘azadi’ slogal for most Kashmiris traditionally implied support for an independent Kashmir, Geelani was one of those separatist leaders who steadfastly championed the demand for J&K’s accession to Pakistan.

The Wire has learned that Geelani spent the past three days in “critical” condition and sent for his daughters, who are outside Kashmir, but was “stable” on Wednesday.

Rumours about the health of the 90-year-old Kashmiri leader have been swirling since the beginning of this year. Divisional commissioner Basheer Ahmad Khan scotched social media claims of his death and warned people not to speculate.

The Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir has been under tightened restrictions following the nullification of constitutional autonomy on August 5. Since then, many of the strictures, including on mobile communication, have been progressively relaxed till now. However, broadband internet continues to be largely banned to the general population and mobile data services restricted to 2G speeds with access just to ‘whitelisted’ sites.

Besides, most of the mainstream political leaders, including former chief ministers, have been indefinitely detained and political activity is largely in deep freeze.

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Meanwhile, the second batch of diplomatic envoys visited Srinagar on Wednesday, where they were taken around the city to show that normalcy has largely been restored.

The J&K administration late on Wednesday night suspended all mobile internet services in Kashmir to “prevent rumours about the health of separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani” from circulating.

Officials said on Thursday that “adequate number” of security forces have been deployed at vulnerable places in Kashmir to maintain law and order and prevent miscreants from fomenting any trouble.

‘G-Plan’ in place

According to state government officials speaking on conditions of anonymity, a heavy security blanket would be imposed across the Valley in the event of Geelani’s demise. Restrictions will include a total clampdown on communication and movement, so that there is minimal presence on the roads.

Last month, the Economic Times reported that the Jammu and Kashmir administration had already discussed the ‘G-plan’, which is apparently the informal sobriquet for instructions to be followed after the death of Geelani. “His ‘funeral gathering’, an official said, cannot be allowed to get out of control,” the paper wrote.