Geelani set free, asks people to continue struggle

The Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman had been under house arrest for the last eight years

Chairman of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani addresses people after his release from house detention after eight years, in Srinagar.

New Delhi: Kashmiri separatist outfit Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who has been under house arrest for the last eight years, was allowed to walk free on Friday after the state government decided to end his detention.

Director General of Police (DGP) SP Vaid told Gulf News that besides Geelani, Hurriyat Conference (HC) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malek were also set free on Friday.

“Separatists Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Yasin Malek and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq are free to go anywhere. But they will not be allowed to create law and order problems. They should not make anti-national speeches else they will face the music,” Vaid said.

Flanked with other senior separatist leaders, including newly elected chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Ashraf Sehrai, Geelani, 88, offered congregational Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid in Hyderpora.

In his first address in eight years, Geelani said he would not jump the gun on the state government’s decision to release him.

“I read from a newspaper today morning that the government has decided to free me. I won’t jump the gun. We will work out a new strategy after thorough consultations,” he said.

Hundreds of people thronged the mosque to listen to the speech of the frail, ailing leader. Clashes ensued soon after prayers ended at the mosque.

Geelani asked young Kashmiris to continue their “struggle” against the state and union governments.

“Remain steadfast till the goal of right to self determination is achieved in Kashmir,” Geelani told people.

Geelani remained under house arrest for most of the time since 2010. In May, 2015, he applied for a passport to visit his daughter in Saudi Arabia.

But the Indian government withheld it citing technical reasons, including the fact that he deliberately failed to fill in the nationality column required in the application.

Later, the government granted him a passport on humanitarian grounds, with a validity of nine months, after Geelani acknowledged his nationality as an Indian.

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