Syed Ali Shah Geelani
Syed Ali Shah Geelani

On Monday, June 29, separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani made a surprise announcement, completely dissociating himself from the pro-Pakistan Hurriyat Conference.

Following the news, many BJP leaders had taken to social media to weigh in on the move. While some including former MP and National Vice President and spokesperson of the BJP, Baijayant Panda have opined that this is linked to the abrogation of Article 370, others have called for justice, stating that Geelani "must pay for his sins".

But who exactly is Syed Ali Shah Geelani?

Born in 1929, Geelani was considered to be one of the foremost separatist leaders in the Kashmir Valley. He is a three time MLA from Kashmir's Sopore constituency, and had been a part of the Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir in the 1950s. Prior to that he had been a school teacher.

While he had formed the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat before joining the Jamaat-e-Islami, this was soon abandoned. Later, the party was re-formed with the same name. For many years now, Geelani has been the Chairman of the all parties Hurriyat Conference.

Over the years, Geelani has been critiqued by many for his separatist outlook, with former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah even attributing the rise of militancy in the valley to him, at least in part. As a separatist leader Geelani has been imprisoned many a time, with Indian officials alleging on many occasions that he was close to Pakistan. As per reports, Geelani too had said that Pakistan had supported the struggle of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Being an influential figure, he has in the past been imprisoned at the time of polls and similar events, and when there was news that he was in ill health, network in the valley had been restricted.

In recent days however, the leader has been facing health issues. Additionally, some have opined that the abrogation of Article 370 may have played a role in pushing Geelani to move away from the organisation.

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