Kashmir separatist leader dies, troops deployed in Srinagar

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Syed Ali Shah Geelani, chairman of the hardliner faction of Kashmir’s All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, talks to the media as Indian police detain his supporters after he addressed a news conference in Srinagar October 19, 2009. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters)- Veteran separatist politician Syed Ali Shah Geelani died on Wednesday night (Sept. 1, 2021) in Srinagar, prompting authorities to deploy troops around the city and shut down the internet as a precautionary measure, police said. He was 91 years old.

“Troops are being deployed at sensitive places in Srinagar and other major towns and no vehicular movement is being allowed,” a police official said.

Geelani was the most senior separatist leader in Kashmir. His family said the elderly politician had been ailing for years and had been under house arrest for the last 12 years after leading several anti-India protests.

A family member told Reuters Geelani developed chest pain and chest congestion on Wednesday afternoon and died late at night at his residence in the region’s main city of Srinagar.

Police chief Vijay Kumar told Reuters the internet was shut down as down as a precautionary measure and restrictions imposed in the Kashmir valley.

The roads leading to Geelani’s residence in Srinagar were sealed, another official said.

Kashmir has long been a flashpoint between India and neighboring Pakistan, which claim the region in full but rule only parts. Tensions were renewed, however, after New Delhi withdrew the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir state in August 2019 and split it into two federally administered territories.

Last year, Geelani quit his hard line Hurriyat Conference faction, saying that it had failed to counter New Delhi’s efforts to tighten its grip on the disputed region.

Hurriyat Conference was formed by various separatist groups in Kashmir in 1993 to provide a political platform for seceding from India in the wake of an armed revolt against New Delhi.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed grief over Geelani’s passing on Twitter and said the nation would observe a day of mourning.

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