On June 29, 2020, when hardcore separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani had quit the All Party Hurriyat Conference, he minced no words in attacking Pakistan-based separatist leaders for nepotism and corruption.
The letter wrote by Geelani was an indication that Pakistan had ditched its 'blue-eyed boy' at the fag end of his life.
"In view of the current state of the Hurriyat Conference, I am announcing my complete dissociation from the forum," Geelani had stated in an audio message released on June 29, 2020. "In this context, I have already sent a detailed letter to all constituents of the forum", he had stated.
In his letter, Geelani had accused the Pakistan-based separatist leadership of nepotism and political corruption. He also accused that the Pakistan-based separatists of misinterpreting his speeches and taking decisions arbitrarily without keeping him in the loop.
Geelani's resignation from the Hurriyat Conference faction that he led for the past 17 years was a 'turning point' in separatist politics of Kashmir, directed and coordinated by Pakistan. After cultivating Geelani for decades, Pakistan ultimately ditched him at the fag end of his life by creating a parallel leadership in the separatist camp to checkmate the aged leader to decide his successor.
Hardcore leader who always opposed dialogue process
Geelani was radical and hardcore among all the separatists. He opposed all dialogue processes and was in favor of merging Kashmir with Pakistan.
It was all due to his hawkish approach that he had decided to split the Hurriyat in 2003 after accusing some of its constituents of fielding proxy candidates in the Assembly elections, held in 2002, and formed his Hurriyat. The All-Party Hurriyat Conference was constituted in the year 1993 to pursue separatist agenda in J&K.
He also disapproved of the attempt of the moderate Hurriyat Conference, headed by Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, to engage dialogue with Union Government. He was the only voice within the separatist spectrum that had opposed then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's four-point formula on Kashmir. He also refused to meet an all-party delegation from Delhi in 2016 and shut his doors on its members under the glare of media cameras.
Earlier suspended from Jamaat-e-Islami's apex body
In June 2005, Geelani and his three associates were suspended from Jamaat-e-Islami's Advisory Council, which was an indication of factionalism among separatist leaders. Geelani was replaced by his arch-rival Ghulam Mohammad Bhat, in the Majlis-i-Shoora, the top decision-making body of the organization.
Geelani had floated the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat in August 2004 after reaching an agreement with Jamaat that secured his place in both the parties.
Geelani was a three-time MLA
Before becoming a separatist leader, Geelani was an MLA from the Sopore constituency and had won in 1972. He won in the Assembly polls from the same constituency in 1977 and 1987.
Geelani was an ideologue and a proponent of the merger of J&K with Pakistan. Geelani, who joined Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) as a young boy, contested Assembly elections from his native Sopore in north Kashmir's Baramulla district in 1972, 1977, and 1987.
Mainstream parties express condolence
Leaders of mainstream leaders including Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, and Sajad Lone expressed their condolence.
"Saddened by the news of Geelani sahab's passing away. We may not have agreed on most things but I respect him for his steadfastness & standing by his beliefs. May Allah Ta'aala grant him jannat & condolences to his family & well-wishers,", Mehbooba, former Chief Minister of erstwhile J&K state and PDP chief said.
Sajad Lone, chairman of Peoples Conference and former minister in a tweet said: "Heartfelt condolences to the family of Syed Ali Shah Geelani Sahib. Was an esteemed colleague of my late father. May Allah grant him Jannat."