Asia - Pacific

Kashmiri pro-freedom leader calls for strike on anniversary of special status withdrawal

Police warn of action under anti-terror law for circulating strike call by Syed Ali Geelani

Hilal Mir   | 04.08.2021
Kashmiri pro-freedom leader calls for strike on anniversary of special status withdrawal

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir

A top Kashmiri pro-freedom leader called for a strike in Indian-administered Kashmir on Aug. 5, the day when India scrapped the Muslim-majority region's autonomy in 2019.

Syed Ali Geelani, 91, who has spent the better part of the past decade under detention at his residence in the capital Srinagar, tweeted that Aug. 5 this year will mark the completion of the two years of the disputed region's "aggressive, illegal and immoral" merger into the Indian Union.

“While the entire world was struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian government has introduced laws during these two years to convert the Muslim majority into a minority," Geelani tweeted.

He also asked Kashmiri Hindus, who had migrated en masse at the onset of the anti-India insurgency in 1990, not to resettle in separate colonies the Indian government plans to build for them. He said they are part of the Kashmiri society and must live together with the majority.

Geelani also called for a strike on Aug. 15, India's independence day.

He said Kashmiris have been traditionally observing India's independence day as the "Black Day" but this year people should turn it into an "awareness day" and inform the world about "India's naked aggression and its nefarious designs on Kashmir".

Soon after the call for the strike appeared on Twitter, police said they would "take action" against anyone circulating Geelani's tweet, which they called "fake", under an anti-terror law.

"As per family sources of SAS Geelani, the tweet is fake and issued by someone from Pakistan. Police is taking action against those who are circulating it to instigate violence," the police said on Twitter.

A contingent of police and paramilitary troopers stationed outside Geelani's residence has virtually left him incommunicado. The police do not let anyone, except the leader's family or close relatives, inside the house.

Meanwhile, Tarun Chugh, national secretary of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the Article 370 and other provisions giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir were abrogated to integrate the region with India.  He claimed the provisions of Article 370 were out rightly discriminatory as they generated and sustained separatist feelings among the people in the region.

“There is a shift from being alienated to being embraced by the healing touch of the Prime Minister Modi government,” he said.

Disputed region

Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, New Delhi and Islamabad have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.

Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire took effect in 2003.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.

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