It is with immense sadness and a profound sense of loss that we mourn the passing of Syed Ali Shah Geelani (1929–2021), a beloved resistance leader of Kashmir, who for decades stood like a firm rock in the face of India’s illegitimate and repressive occupation of Jammu & Kashmir.
Geelani Sahab, or Bab (father), as he was fondly known in Kashmir, served as the chairperson of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), an alliance of Kashmiri political, social and religious organizations that stood for the right to self-determination. He was also the founding chairperson of Tehreek-i-Hurriyat. His loss leaves an unfulfillable void in the struggle for Kashmiri self-determination and freedom from Indian occupation.
Geelani Sahab was a firm believer of the Pakistan movement as a homeland for the Indian subcontinent’s Muslims, and advocated Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan. He never wavered in his principles and relentlessly stood for Kashmiri peoples’ right to self-determination. His life was an example of unfettered resolve and passionate resistance. He always spoke truth to power, for which he spent years under detention in Indian prisons.
He was a deep and careful thinker, a voracious reader and an eclectic writer, a passionate orator and a fearless leader. Most of all he refused to succumb in the face of tyranny. His spoken and written words articulated a humane vision of inclusiveness, brotherhood, religious harmony, peace, and justice — on Kashmiri terms.
He lived the final decade of his life under imprisonment in his own home even as he suffered from multiple serious ailments. While his death has come from natural causes, we must remember the immense physical and psychological toll that his continuous detention and torture took on his health.
Geelani Sahab’s legacy will never leave us. He tirelessly exhorted us to continue to fight for our right to self-determination and for an end to the Indian occupation of our motherland. We, as a valiant nation, resolve to carry forward his mission until our freedom from the Indian occupation. While they continue to isolate us, we will remain steadfastly united. While they plan to tire us out, we will remain uncompromisingly firm. And while they hope to make us forget, we will continue to unfailingly remember. This would be the greatest tribute to his legacy as a tall and fearless champion of our just and legitimate cause.
In this difficult moment, we offer our deepest condolences to the people of Kashmir at home and across the globe. Bab will be deeply missed by everyone!
As we write this, reports of heavy deployment of the Indian armed forces aimed to stop peoples’ mourning and protest are emerging from Kashmir. Given the history of the Indian State’s actions in Kashmir, this could not be any different. But we demand that the occupying state allow the people of Kashmir to mourn this loss in peace, and allow the people to give him a dignified burial in a place of their choosing.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani: A life dedicated to Kashmir and its people
'Oppression does not last,' my grandfather - now 91 and in ailing health - tells me as police line the roads outside…
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un
To Allah we belong and to Allah we shall return.