Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is “Deeply saddened” on the passing of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. He announced in a tweet: “The Pakistan flag will fly at half mast and we will observe a day of official mourning”.
Imran Khan has reason to be sad, because Geelani, worked as an agent of Pakistan and this has been explained in great detail by Ramesh Tamiri, who has done considerable research into the happenings of Kashmir – Editorial
To the living we owe respect. To the dead we owe the truth – This standard should never be violated, particularly in the case of a politician who was a key instrument in death and destruction of Kashmir. That is how future generations will record the legacy of Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s politics.
Geelani belonged to a village in the vicinity of Sopore. He was initially patronized by National Conference leader Maulana Masoodi. Masoodi belonged to Deoband school. Geelani was indoctrinated to Deobandi ideas and landed in Jamaat Islami.
Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was liberal and pro- Indian but he had used all sorts of opportunistic methods to consolidate his personal power. He promoted Jamaat Islami in 1957 as counter to Sheikh Abdullah.
Growth of orchard economy and rise of an affluent class through trade and Government Jobs in rural Kashmir created a political class that aspired for greater share in political power.
It challenged the hegemony of urban Muslim leadership of Sheikh Abdullah and GM Sadiq. GR Kar, AG Lone in North Kashmir and Mufti Syed & Mir Qasim in South Kashmir staged open revolt in 1967 against GM Sadiq.
By 1970 Jamaat Islami had entrenched itself in pockets where orchard development had met huge success. After the death of Sadiq, Mir Qasim helped Jamaat Islami win 5 assembly seats in 1971 by getting his own candidates defeated. Jamaat Islami used its access to the Qasim Government for pushing its cadres into administration and senior bureaucracy and opening branches of its schools in different parts of Kashmir.
Jamaat Islami still had limited appeal and organisational reach. Return of Sheikh Abdullah impacted on Jamaat Islami in two ways:
- It faced political opposition from new government
- Secessionist baton passed from Sheikh Abdullah to Jamaat Islami
Jamaat Islami and novieu rich rural class sought to challenge Sheikh Abdullah. Some elements were co-opted by National Conference.
1979 anti-Jamaat riots in the wake of hanging of Bhutto were attributed to National Conference workers.
Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and emergence of Pakistan as a frontline state saw a new role for political parties in Kashmir.
It is claimed Saudis brokered an understanding between Sheikh Abdullah and Jamaat Islami in 1980-81. As per this, Sheikh Abdullah was to facilitate Jamaat Islami and Jamaat in return was not to challenge Sheikh till he was alive.
State Congress too was in close cohort with the separatists. At its behest it was first decided that Centre would directly compensate Jamaat victims of 1979.
Pakistan gave a key role to Jamaat Islami in 1980s in facilitating cross-border terrorism by organising recruitment, propaganda and other internal logistics. Terrorist groups aligned to Jamaat Islami, eliminated political workers and leaders affiliated to mainstream regional parties and others who were opposed to Jamaat.
Jamaat also played a key role in ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Hindus and stalling their return.
Post-1996 National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) sought to keep Jamaat Islami in good humour to win elections. In return Jamaatis were given liberal entry at different levels in administration and promised non-action whenever there was demand to take action again it for active involvement in terrorism.
Cross-border terrorism and political vacuum gave larger than life role to Geelani. UPA government extended out of way concessions to him. Local regional parties too tried to keep him in good humour.
Post-August 2019 NDA Government decided to deal with Jamaat Islami strongly by:
- Crack down on its financial networks through which it facilitated terrorism.
- Dismissal of Jamaat cadres in administration.
What should not be lost track of is the fact that Jamaat schools still continue to operate in Kashmir. So long as Jamaat Islami continues to operate these schools, Kashmir will never get peace.
Four measures are need to be taken immediately;
- Jamaat schools need to be closed forever.There should be total ban on employing products of these schools in Govt.and higher education institutions.
- All cases of killings by terrorists should be investigated and role of Jamaat Islami in these should be particularly investigated.
- Links of mainstream politicians with Jamaat should be investigated and those found involved should be debarred from participation in elections.
- Assets of Jamaat Islami leaders and active cadres should be scrutinised.