Imran condemns India for filing cases against Geelani’s family

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan censured New Delhi for booking under an anti-terror law the family members of former All Parties Hurriyat Conference chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani for wrapping his body in a Pakistan flag.

An emblem of Kashmir’s defiance against Indian occupation and put under house arrest for years, Geelani passed away on Wednesday at age 91. His son, Naseem, said police buried Geelani’s body in a local cemetery without any family members present after it snatched his body from the home.

Police in Indian-occupied Kashmir on Saturday brought up terrorism charges against family members of a recently deceased top pro-freedom leader and others for chanting slogans and “resorting to other anti-national activities” in his dying moments.

A police official told Anadolu Agency on the condition of anonymity that a first information report, which is a prelude to subsequent police action on the specified charges, had been filed into the incident that occurred at Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s residence after his death.

He did not specify the nature of the “anti-national activities,” a blanket term for any action deemed against the Indian state, but said the charges could include Geelani’s body being draped in a Pakistan flag, the shouting of pro-freedom slogans and coming to blows with police.

The official also did not reveal the number of individuals booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA.

The law was amended in 2019 to allow the government to designate an individual as a terrorist. Police can detain a person for six months without producing any evidence, and the accused can subsequently be imprisoned for up to seven years. Rights activists have called the law draconian.

The 91-year-old leader died late Wednesday after a prolonged illness at his residence, where he had been under house detention for the better part of the past decade.

He had willed that he be buried in the region’s largest cemetery, the Martyrs Graveyard in the capital, Srinagar, but police, fearing widespread participation of people, did not let that happen.

Geelani’s son, Naseem Geelani, had told several media outlets that police had taken custody of his father’s body, beat family members and buried it in a nearby graveyard. Family members were only allowed to offer prayers the next morning, he said.

A video that went viral on social media showed family members, including shrieking and crying women, arguing with the police after the body was taken away.

In a statement, however, police claimed it “facilitated” bringing the body from the house to the graveyard as there was apprehension that “miscreants might take undue advantage of the situation.”

They have not yet been detained by police, according to AFP.

Deploring the measures, the prime minister Sunday said it was “just another shameful example of India’s descent into fascism under the Nazi-inspired RSS-BJP [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-Bharatiya Janata Party]” government.

BJP is the political wing of the RSS — an extremist Hindu paramilitary group with a membership in millions and involved in heinous crimes such as mob lynching against the country’s Muslim minority.

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