Geelani To Fight For Jailed Kashmiris
3 November 2003
The Indian Express
New Delhi: S.A.R. Geelani was observing roza even on the day he was arrested two years ago. He doesn't remember how he broke fast in December 2001 but this Ramzan, he finds that even the dates taste different. Back from confinement 'resembling one from the Dark Ages', the Delhi University lecturer is finally free and a 'completely changed' man, in his own words. With the media going full throttle on him again, this time he wants to smile. 'Everything has changed. Suddenly, I find my eight-year-old son Atif has matured overnight. The night I was released, he told me firmly not to go out alone and come home early from work,' Geelani says. 'My children have shown symptoms of depression because of what they have been subjected to in the past. But this is nothing compared to the plight of fellow Kashmiris I met back in jail,' he says. Young boys are being treated like animals there and their careers ruined, he says. 'Their only crime is they are Kashmiri,' the Arabic lecturer at Zakir Hussain College says. 'In my opinion, our sufferings would come to an end only when the Kashmir conflict is resolved. And this is not possible without involving people of the state,' he says. On the government's recent peace initiatives, he says: 'I hope they are sincere in their effort and spirit. It's time, we got over with the bone of contention finally.' Geelani plans to visit relatives in J-K. The other things he wants to do is to submit his Ph D thesis and write memoirs on time spent behind bars. The two-year ordeal has given a direction to his life, he proclaims. 'I am going to fight for the rights of Kashmiri people, especially those behind bars. And that's my mission for life,' he says. Geelani adds the human rights situation has not improved after the Mufti government came to power.