March 2001 News

Geelani still in hospital, strike affects life in Valley

20 March 2001
The Asian Age

Srinagar: Life came to a standstill in the Kashmir Valley on Tuesday during a day-long general strike called by militants to protest the “murderous assault” on their ideologue and leader of secessionist Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, by the police on Saturday. Mr Geelani, a chronic heart patient, was admitted to the intensive-care-unit of Srinagar's Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences on Saturday when he fainted during a scuffle with the policemen. He was trying to free his private secretary, Muhammad Yusuf Mujahid, himself a second-rung leader of the Hurriyat Conference, out of the police custody. Mr Geelani suffered a mild heart attack and also his right hand was injured in the incident. However, the claim was disputed by the police asserting that he was at no point manhandled let alone assaulted or hit with gun butts by the cops as was alleged by his aides. A police spokesman charged that Mr Geelani “feigned illness and despite normal health continued to stay in hospital to mislead the people.” The alleged assault on Mr Geelani, who also heads the political affairs department of the right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami, took an interesting turn when the official media reported that he had been discharged from the hospital on Saturday evening itself. The matter of the fact was that he was still being treated at the ICU of SKIMS. The secessionists only seized the opportunity provided by the wrong official announcement to censure the government. The assault came a day after the entire Kashmir Valley and predominantly Muslim areas of Jammu region observed a complete shut down in response to the call given by Mr Geelani to protest the desecration of holy Quran by Hindus activists in front of the UNO office in New Delhi on March 5. The call for the latest strike had been issued by the Hezb-ul-Mujahideen. The Lashkar-e-Tayyaba endorsed it alleging that the police had deliberately attacked Mr Geelani in order to eliminate him from the scene. The Pakistan-based Lashkar chief, Hafiz Muhammad Sayeed, described Mr Geelani as “one of the most revered religious leaders” recently elected as member of the Muslim World League. Mr Geelani is the first Kashmiri leader and only third from the South Asian region chosen to be on the Mecca-based organisation. The other two Muslim leaders from the subcontinent who served as members of the WML are late Moulana Syed Abul Aala Maudoodi, the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami, and noted Indian scholar Moulana Abul Hassan Nadvi popularly known as Ali Mian. The Jamaat-e-Islmai and other like-minded Kashmir boasting on the selection assert that it would go long way in seeking support for their struggle against the Indian rule. Shops and other businesses including banks, educational institutions and also many government offices in the Valley remained closed for the day. Only skeleton transport services plied on select routes including the Srinagar-Jammu highway. The Hurriyat Conference sources, meanwhile, said that Mr Geelani was likely to “return” to his home at Hyderpora here as his supporters and admirers were “anxiously” waiting to see him there and seek his blessings. Meanwhile, three militants were killed in a clash with the security forces at Goripora outside the northwestern town of Sopore on Tuesday. The encounter was still going on when reports last came in. The police said that the militants actually attacked a security force patrol and in the retaliatory fire three assailants died whose identity is yet to be established.


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