Kashmir veteran separatist politician Syed Ali Shah Geelani died on Wednesday night in Srinagar, prompting authorities to deploy troops around the city and shut down the internet as a precautionary measure, police said. “Troops are being deployed at sensitive places in Srinagar and other major towns and no vehicular movement is being allowed,” a police official said.
The 91-year-old was buried at a mosque near his residence according to his wishes, his close aides said. Geelani was the most senior separatist leader in Kashmir. His family said the elderly politician had been ailing for years and had been under house arrest for the last 12 years after leading several anti-India protests. Considered as the senior-most separatist leader, Geelani was previously a member of Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir but later on founded his own party by the name of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat. He has served as the Chairman of the All Parties Hurriyet (Freedom) Conference, a conglomerate of separatist parties in Jammu and Kashmir. Geelani became an MLA from Sopore constituency in 1972 and won in the Assembly polls from the same constituency in 1977 and 1987. Last year, Geelani quit his hard line Hurriyat Conference faction, saying that it had failed to counter New Delhi’s efforts to tighten its grip over Kashmir. Hurriyat Conference was formed by various separatist groups in Kashmir in 1993.