Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani passes away at 92

News Network
September 2, 2021

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The patriarch of separatist politics in the Valley and Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, passed away at his residence in Srinagar late Wednesday night. A former elected legislator, the ailing 92-year-old had been under house detention for more than a decade. 

His death comes when both his and the moderate factions of the Hurriyat are in disarray in the wake of a crackdown by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the abrogation of Article 370 and the downgrade of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.

Apprehensive that his funeral may attract large crowds, the security establishment has imposed restrictions across the Valley, including Internet suspension. Police sources say curfew would be imposed.

“With shock and grief, we inform (you) that the father of revolution Syed Ali Geelani passed away tonight,” tweeted Geelani’s Pakistan-based representative Abdullah Geelani. “As per his will, he would be buried at the martyrs’ cemetery in Srinagar. The timing of the funeral would be announced later.”

However, it is unlikely that the government will allow Geelani to be buried at this cemetery.

Geelani’s legacy will be that of the hardliner who stood up to New Delhi, seeking resolution of the Kashmir dispute under the aegis of the United Nations. In fact, he was the only separatist leader to oppose Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf when the latter climbed down on Islamabad’s traditional stand on Kashmir and proposed a four-point formula to resolve the Kashmir issue.

Born on September 29, 1929, at Zurmanz, a village on the banks of the Wular lake in Bandipore, Geelani rose to become the face of separatist politics.

A school teacher, he started his political career under the tutelage of Maulana Mohammad Sayeed Masoodi, a senior National Conference (NC) leader, but soon moved to Jamat-e-Islami. The socio-religious organisation stood up to the NC leadership and saw Kashmir as an “unfinished agenda” of Partition.

Geelani’s electoral career started from Sopore, a traditional separatist and Jamat stronghold. He first contested the Assembly elections in 1972, and represented Sopore in the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir Assembly for three terms. The last term ended abruptly in 1987 when militancy erupted in Kashmir.

Geelani had been one of the four candidates of the Muslim United Front (MUF) — an alliance of political, social and religious organisations — who won in the widely rigged 1987 elections that brought the NC-Congress combine to power and set off militancy in the Valley.

An ardent supporter of armed struggle for resolution of the Kashmir issue, Geelani was among the seven executive members of the Hurriyat Conference when it was formed in 1993. But his support for militancy and unwavering ideology on Kashmir sowed the seeds of discord between him and his colleagues in the Hurriyat Conference, finally culminating in a split in 2003.

In 2004, Geelani also parted ways from Jamat-e-Islami when it distanced itself from militancy, and formed his own political outfit, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.

While Geelani has been bedridden for years now and incommunicado for the last two years, he sprang a surprise on June 30 last year when he dissociated himself from the faction of Hurriyat that he founded. He left the reins to his deputy Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, who died in custody in Jammu jail earlier this year.

And though Geelani said he wanted the resolution of the Kashmir issue as per the aspirations of the people, he himself was an ardent supporter of its merger with Pakistan. Last year, the Pakistan government awarded him with Nishan-e-Pakistan, the highest civilian honour of the country.

The NIA, which has till date arrested 18 separatist leaders from Kashmir including those from the Hurriyat in a case of terror funding, has alleged that they received funds from Pakistan to foment unrest in the Valley. The agency had even named Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq in the chargesheet, claiming they had been pushing for secession and fuelling unrest but had stopped short of naming them as accused.

In February, 2019 the NIA had raided Umer Farooq’s and Geelani’s son Naseem Geelani’s house among others in the case. In March 2019, the Enforcement Directorate had levied a penalty of Rs 14.40 lakh on Geelani in a 17-year-old case of alleged illegal possession of $10,000 in alleged contravention of the foreign exchange law.

Former chief minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti condoled Geelani’s demise, saying, “We may not have agreed on most things but I respect him for his steadfastness and standing for his beliefs.”

People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone tweeted: “Heartfelt condolences to the family of Syed Ali Shah Geelani sahib. Was an esteemed colleague of my late father. May Allah grant him Jannat”.

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News Network
October 16,2021

Bengaluru, Oct 16: In a veiled attack, JDS leader and former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Saturday blamed Opposition leader Siddaramaiah for the "political genocide" of Muslim leaders in Karnataka Congress.

In a series of tweets in Kannada, Kumaraswamy, without naming Siddaramaiah, said, he has long list of Muslim leaders who fell prey to the politics of the conspiratorial ideologue (Siddaramaiah), who can do anything for power.

"People should know who is responsible for the political genocide of minority leaders in Congress," he said.

The series of tweets has come in the wake of Siddaramaiah's remarks that the JDS was helping the ruling BJP to win both Sindagi and Hanagal by-elections by fielding Muslim candidates to split Muslim votes.

Kumaraswamy alleged Siddaramaiah was responsible for the defeat of Congress official candidate Iqbal Ahmed Saradagi, a protege of senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, in the legislative council polls in 2012.

Saradgi's opponent Byrathi Suresh, who contested election as an independent and a buddy of Siddaramaiah, had won the election, he said.

In another tweet, Kumaraswamy blamed Siddaramaiah for clandestinely working for Byrathi and defeating CK Abdul Rehman, the official candidate of the Congress and grandson of late CK Jaffer Sharief, in the by-election for Hebbal assembly constituency in 2016.

He also held Siddaramaiah responsible for the ouster of Roshan Baig from the party.

"The only reason for doing this was that he had questioned the state leadership's poor performance in the last Lok Sabha elections," he added.

Baig, himself, had blamed Siddaramaiah for his suspension from Karnataka Congress.

Kumaraswamy also rapped Siddaramaiah for insulting Tanvir Sait, who was making efforts to empower the secular forces in the polity.

The supporters of Sait had protested against Siddaramaiah for serving their leader notice for attempting to forge an alliance with JDS for the Mysuru mayoral election in February this year.

Kumaraswamy blamed Siddaramaiah for the six years suspension of MA Salim who had linked KPCC President DK Shivakumar to an irrigation scam as a minister and defended VS Ugrappa who entertained his conversation.

"Muslims have come to know about this infamous monarch (Siddaramaiah) who gently swings the cradle, strangles the baby and chops off the baby's neck if possible," Kumaraswamy tweeted.

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News Network
October 17,2021

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Makkah, Oct 17: The Grand Mosque in the Muslim holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia operated at full capacity Sunday, with worshippers praying shoulder-to-shoulder for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Workers removed floor markings that guide people to social distance in and around the Grand Mosque, which is built around the Ka’aba, the black cubic structure towards which Muslims around the world pray.

"This is in line with the decision to ease precautionary measures and to allow pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque at full capacity," reported the official Saudi Press Agency.

Pictures and footage on Sunday morning showed people praying side by side, making straight rows of worshippers that are formations revered in performing Muslim prayers, for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold last year.

While social distancing measures were lifted, the authorities said visitors must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus and must continue to wear masks on mosque grounds.

Also, the Ka’aba remained cordoned off and out of reach.

Saudi Arabia announced in August it will begin accepting vaccinated foreigners wanting to make the umrah pilgrimage.

The umrah can be undertaken at any time and usually draws millions from around the globe, as does the annual hajj, which abled-bodied Muslims who have the means must perform at least once in their lifetime.

In July, only around 60,000 inoculated residents were allowed to take part in a vastly scaled-down form of the annual hajj.

The Covid-19 pandemic hugely disrupted both Muslim pilgrimages, which are usually key revenue earners for the kingdom that rake in a combined $12 billion annually.

Hosting the pilgrimages is a matter of prestige for Saudi rulers, for whom the custodianship of Islam's holiest sites is their most powerful source of political legitimacy.

The once-reclusive kingdom began issuing tourist visas permitting foreign visitors to undertake more than just the pilgrimages for the first time in 2019 as part of an ambitious push to revamp its global image and diversify income.

Between September 2019 and March 2020, it issued 400,000 of them -- only for the pandemic to crush that momentum as borders were closed.

But the kingdom is slowly opening up and has started welcoming vaccinated foreign tourists since August 1.

Saudi Arabia also announced that fully-inoculated sports fans will from Sunday be allowed to attend events at all stadiums and other sports facilities, reported SPA.

It has also been said that masks in most open spaces are no longer mandatory.

Saudi Arabia has registered over 547,000 coronavirus cases and 8,760 deaths.

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News Network
October 22,2021

Mexico City, Oct 22: Two foreigners, including one from India, were killed and three wounded in a shooting at a restaurant in the Mexican Caribbean resort town of Tulum, authorities said on Thursday.

Authorities said one of the dead women was from Germany and the other from India. The three wounded included two Germans and a tourist from the Netherlands.

The shooting broke out on Wednesday night at a street-side eatery that has some outdoor tables, right off Tulum's main strip.

The fight was between two groups that operate street-level drug sales in the area, the Quintana Roo state prosecutor's office said in a statement. The tourists were apparently dining at the restaurant and may have been caught in the crossfire.

One woman died at the scene and the other in a hospital. One of the aggressors, who was also wounded, was subsequently arrested. There was no immediate word on the condition of the wounded tourists.

Tulum has experienced growing pains moving from laid-back beach retreat to major international destination. It had long been spared the violence seen sporadically in larger Cancun and Playa del Carmen farther up the coast.

But in June, two men were shot to death on the beach in Tulum and a third was wounded.

The administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has pinned its hopes on Tulum, where it has announced plans to build an international airport and a stop for the Maya train, which will run in a loop around the Yucatan peninsula.

But Quintana Roo state, where beach resorts like Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Cancun are located, has been plagued by both violence and corruption.

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