The 2nd Anniversary of Syed Ali Gillani’s death: A freedom Fighter

1st September,2023

Commemorating two years since his passing, Syed Ali Gillani’s indomitable spirit and unwavering dedication continue to inspire.

A visionary leader in the struggle for Kashmir’s freedom, Gillani’s legacy lives on, a beacon of resilience against all odds. His pivotal role in shaping the region’s destiny, his enduring stance, and his courage in the face of adversity remain etched in the pages of history.

Syed Ali Gillani, born on September 29, 1929, and passing away on September 1, 2021, emerged as a prominent Kashmiri leader with pro-Pakistani inclinations. Revered as a key figure in the indigenous freedom movement of Kashmir, he played a pivotal role in its advancement.

Mr. Gillani’s involvement in the pursuit of Kashmiri rights predates his formal entry into politics as a member of the Jammat-e-Islami (JeI) in 1952. His trajectory within the political arena saw him ascend to the position of district chief in Kupwara and Baramulla districts, underlining his growing influence.

Despite periods of incarceration spanning over a dozen years, Mr. Gillani’s dedication to his cause remained steadfast. His first detention in 1962, stemming from his advocacy for the Kashmir issue, exemplified his early commitment.

While initially engaging in mainstream political strategies to champion his cause, Gillani’s evolving perspective led him to recognize the lack of sincere intent from the Indian government in resolving the Kashmir dispute.

His unwavering stance against the imposition of the draconian Indian law known as the Public Safety Act (PSA) was evident. He notably confronted then Chief Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah’s implementation of the stringent PSA in the region.

The PSA, criticized as an arbitrary legislation by Amnesty International, was initially intended for curbing timber smuggling but underwent modifications that allowed its exploitation for silencing political dissent. This law enabled the imprisonment of individuals for up to two years without a formal trial.

Syed Ali Gillani played an active and influential role in the formation of the Muslim United Front (MUF) in 1987, preceding provincial elections. Under the umbrella of MUF, various Muslim parties united against pro-India factions, most notably the National Conference. However, despite MUF’s efforts, only a limited number of candidates, including Gillani, managed to secure seats due to allegations of electoral manipulation. As a consequence, Gillani and three other victorious candidates were apprehended by the Indian government.

This pivotal moment marked the commencement of an indigenous armed resistance against what was perceived as the “unlawful Indian occupation of the Indian-administered region of Jammu and Kashmir” (IIOJK). Subsequently, the political landscape witnessed significant shifts, with the National Conference-Congress alliance’s governance dissolved due to the outbreak of armed rebellion in the early 1990s. Legal practitioners and activists faced imprisonment, while political engagement was proscribed. In a gesture of dissent, Gillani and his compatriots relinquished their positions.

The establishment of the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference (APHC) in 1992 represented a significant stride. Comprising over 30 pro-freedom parties, including representation from the Jammat-e-Islami (JeI) by Gillani, the APHC sought to amplify the struggle for Kashmir’s right to self-determination.

Gillani’s unyielding stance significantly bolstered his popularity, particularly among the youth. His public displays of solidarity, such as accompanying the coffins of fallen freedom fighters and delivering speeches lauding the resistance movement, underscored his influence.

In August 2004, Gillani, alongside Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, established the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (Movement of Freedom), gaining prominence during the mass civil uprisings that followed 2008. Gillani’s profile remained prominent, particularly with the launch of the “demilitarization movement” in 2009. The eventful year of 2010 witnessed a significant trigger for mass protests as Indian forces were implicated in a fabricated encounter resulting in the death of three civilians along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Machil area. Gillani’s leadership was pivotal during this period of upheaval.

After the killing of the prominent young freedom fighter Burhan Wani by Indian security forces in 2016, Gillani, alongside Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, orchestrated protests against the perceived brutality of Indian occupation forces. In the wake of India’s revocation of Articles 370 and 35A, stripping the region of its autonomy and sole Muslim-majority state status, Gillani remained steadfast in his commitment to the ongoing struggle.

From August 5, 2019, Gillani remained under house arrest until his demise. The Indian government’s refusal to permit a proper burial for the esteemed Kashmiri leader drew international condemnation for its perceived brutality and disregard for human rights. Despite this treatment, Gillani’s legacy as a prolific author, with a bibliography encompassing approximately 30 books including his autobiography “Wular Kinaray,” endured.

In stark violation of human rights, Gillani’s family was prevented from performing the last rites, and he was laid to rest amidst a stringent military lockdown in Haiderpora, Srinagar. During the preparations for his final journey, Indian occupation forces conducted a forceful intervention at his residence, unsettling his family and removing his body. A curfew was subsequently imposed, and internet services were suspended, amplifying the repressive environment. Regrettably, Gillani’s last moments were spent in confinement, his interment transpiring under stringent conditions.

The Indian government’s actions provoked widespread censure, attracting attention from international entities such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and major news agencies and publications like Reuters, The Washington Post, and France 24. Pakistan joined in denouncing India’s perceived “barbaric act” in snatching Gillani’s body.

Muhammad Wasama Khalid is a Correspondent and Researcher at Global Affairs. He is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations at National Defense University. His interests include history, politics, and current affairs. He has been published in the London Institute of Peace and Research, South Asian Journal, Diplomatic Insight, International Policy Digest, Sri Lanka Guardian, Global Village Space, Global Defense Insight, Global Affairs, And Modern Diplomacy. He tweets at @Wasama Khalid and can be reached at Wasamakhalid@gmail.com

Wasama Khalid
Wasama Khalid

Muhammad Wasama Khalid is a Correspondent and Researcher at Global Affairs. He is pursuing his Bachelors in International Relations at National Defense University (NDU). He has a profound interest in history, politics, current affairs, and international relations. He is an author of Global Village Space, Global Defense Insight, Global Affairs, and Modern Diplomacy. He tweets at @Wasama Khalid and can be reached at Wasamakhalid@gmail.com

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