Srinagar: Amid the honking and the Eid buzz emanating from the streets—often being barred from treading, a grandfather figure known for his defiant politics has been carrying out his regiment routine. He strolls in a tiny park facing his Hyderpora residence every morning to keep himself agile at the ripe age of 88.
Perhaps mindful of the fact how even police van shadowing his residence had jammed last time and eventually been pushed from the area by the posse of policemen, (Syed Ali) Geelani has picked up the lifestyle apparently to keep himself going. The conscious practice in captivity only makes a sense for the resistance leader who has been caged within four walls of his house since the momentous year of 2010.
The man known for his unbending stand on Kashmir issue hasn’t been allowed to move out of his residence to attend even the mandatory Eid prayers.
The patriarch who earlier chose “to address the nation” through a video message on Eid lives with his wife at Hyderpora wherefrom the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH)—the twin organisations he heads—operate.
His two sons and six daughters are already married and live with their families. His kitchen work is supported by two attendants.
He mainly takes liquid diet.
A native of Zoorimanz (Watlab Sopore), the 1929-born leader is now being hawked by the two vehicles of J&K Police and paramilitary CRPF. The vehicles stand still outside the main entrance of his residence with 360 degree rotating cameras recording the incoming and outgoing visitors 24×7.
As soon as Eid-ul-Fitr prayers concluded the other day, an APHC official said, people started making beeline to their office and there was no halt till dusk.
Among the visitors were his two sons, along with their wives and four children, who paid him a visit along with their families and spent the entire day with him.
This has become a routine for the man whose prerequisite condition for any engagement with Delhi starts with South Block’s admission that Kashmir is a dispute. With Narendra Modi government resorting to iron-fisted approach to deal with Geelani camp at the moment, a complete political logger-headedness has prevailed over the valley.
But that hardly bothers the man who lately received the Mani Shankar Aiyer delegation with his vintage style: “Kya paigaam laaye ho?”
For such conviction, Geelani has paid dearly.
The man’s outward movement has been shunted—except on one occasion when his health issues compounded and was rushed to hospital. “It was in 2013,” a Hurriyat Conference activist said, “when the then government allowed Geelani to hold five rallies.”
That was it.
“And now, he hasn’t been allowed to offer mandatory Friday or Eid prayers since 2010.” However, the unionist camp justifies this punitive action on the man “who has gall to say ‘No’ to Delhi”.
By evening, Hyderpora received a greeting call from Nigeen when Mirwaiz exchanged pleasantries with Geelani for three minutes, the insiders said.
But on Monday, scores of visitors from different parts of Valley had to return disappointed after Geelani’s captive interactions weren’t ending any time sooner. But those who did make it recalled how they discussed the myriad hues of the “resistance movement” including Delhi’s crackdown in Kashmir and NIA raids with the “Qaid whose blessings we had come to seek”.
During those informal Eid rendezvous, the insiders said, Geelani even expressed his sadness over the tragedy striking Pakistan‘s Bahawalpur a day before Eid in which over one fifty people were killed.
He prayed for the departed souls.
“At Fajr, Maghrib and Isha,” the APHC officials said, “those who stay in the office walk up to Geelani’s room and offer prayers along with him there.”
But the life in captivity has its own tearing impact on the ailing grandfather that Geelani is.
Just before the start of holy Ramzan, dentists had suggested him to undergo tooth transplant after he developed a searing toothache. Even that mandatory treatment wasn’t acceded to, the Hurriyat activist said.