SRINAGAR, Ag 8: Is hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah, who steered the street agitations for three consecutive years since 2008 till 2010, under continuous house arrest in Srinagar? Police say no but Hurriyat says yes.
“Police claim that I am not under house arrest is nothing but a bundle of lies,” said visible angry Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Wednesday at his Srinagar residence in Hyderpora area.
The 82-year-old separatist leader is incensed by the police denial that he was not under house arrest on Monday this week when Geelani had invited civil society for an iftar party to eat meals together after a daylong fasting. But the guests proceeded for the dinner without the host as the Hurriyat leaders claimed he was not allowed by the police to venture out.
As Geelani was addressing the press conference on Wednesday, a posse of policemen and a police vehicle was parked right outside the gate, the only entrance meant for the movement of vehicles, with no room for movement.
Geelani sees ruling National Conference’s ploy in his constant detention. “The NC is politically, morally and diplomatically corrupt. It puts sanctions on my movement but unabashedly claim ‘Geelani is free man’,” said Geelani.
The aging separatist leader, unlike moderate Hurriyat leaders, faces most frequent house arrest. Since April this year, the Hurriyat claims he was not allowed to offer Friday prayers and was stopped from attending nephew’s marriage.
“Geelani’s movement is restricted on certain occasions when there is a potential of creating breach of peace and public tranquility by him which endangers public life and property,” said a police statement.
The police claim Geelani’s speeches are followed by stone pelting.
Accusing the state government of violating freedom of speech, Geelani has approached former law minister and senior Supreme Court lawyer Ram Jethmalani to fight his continuous house arrest.
“Geelani’s detention without any administrative order is unconstitutional and illegal,” said Kashmir senior lawyer Zafar Shah.
“Whenever I go, even if I visit hospital, police keeps a tab on my activities. The continuous presence of security is part of the process to keep me under house arrest,” said Geelani, who has rejected any security cover offered by the government.
The police, however, say Geelani was allowed to move thrice since last month, where he performed prayers at two shrines and attended two funerals. “Geelani also got himself medically examined at SKIIMS and Bone & Joint Hospital Barzulla in Srinagar,” said the police.
With no mechanism in place to verify the claims and allegations of both the sides, the detention remains an enigma, with Geelani supporters on the edge.
(The author is principal correspondent, The Hindustan Times)