Heir Hint In Return Of Hawk’s Son

Heir Hint In Return Of Hawk’s Son

12 December 2010
The Telegraph (Kolkata)
Sankarshan Thakur

New Delhi: Arrangements for a dynastic succession are brewing in another Kashmiri political clan. The ageing and ailing patriarch of the Hurriyat’s hardliners, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, is mulling handing over the secession baton to elder son Syed Naeem Geelani, who was allowed to return home last month by the government after more than a decade in Pakistan. It was, in fact, his sudden and quiet homecoming that fuelled speculation in the Valley that the old hawk was planning to name a successor and hand over day-to-day activities of the Hurriyat to his elder son. Geelani has been troubled by heart-related ailments for several years now. At 81, he probably feels the need to appoint a reliable heir to carry forth his lifelong struggle to unhinge Kashmir from India and merge it with Pakistan. Naeem Geelani allayed suggestions that he had returned to take over the secession mantle from his father, saying he had “no knowledge” of any such plan. “I am not even a member of any Hurriyat, although I consider myself a part of the Kashmiri struggle that my father has been waging,” he told The Telegraph over the phone from Srinagar today. “I am aware there is some talk about my so-called succession because I have come back, but is it such a strange thing for a man to want to return to his native place?” All afternoon today, he participated in a seminar sponsored by his father on the road ahead for Kashmiris. Sources in both the hardline and moderate factions of the Hurriyat told this paper that Naeem Geelani’s arrival in Kashmir was linked to the elder Geelani’s future plans. “He is getting on and he is obviously keen to see his movement in secure hands,” said Naeem Khan, a frontline moderate Hurriyat leader. “There are other claimants to Geelani saheb’s legacy and he may want to keep it in the family.” A senior aide of Geelani, who would not be named, dropped tangential though unambiguous hints: “It is not strange for the son to make public denials; what do you suppose he should say, that, yes, I have come to take my father’s place?” Should one of Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s sons assume charge from him - his younger son Syed Naseem Geelani teaches at the Kashmir Agriculture University and is also known to have strong political views - the move will follow the established operating procedures of Kashmiri - and Indian - political families. Current Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah is the third of his line to hold power. Moderate secessionist Mirwaiz Umer Farooq took over at 17 upon the assassination of his father Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq in 1990. Sajjad Lone, likewise, runs the People’s Conference as a legatee of his slain father Abdul Ghani Lone. “It will strike very few as unusual or out of line if Geelani were to pick one of his sons to succeed him,” says the editor of a Kashmiri daily. “In fact, it will be unusual if he does not.” Part of the reason to summon Naeem Geelani back from “self-imposed exile” in Pakistan, Hurriyat sources said, was the elder Geelani’s fear that the hardline leadership will fall into the hands of protégés who quickly made a name for themselves during this summer’s protracted and violent strife in Kashmir. Chief among them are Masrat Alam, who came to command the street revolt from his underground hideouts, and Mian Qayoom, president of the Kashmir Bar Association. Both are currently in jail and both have torn their way to the front of the secessionist movement in a way no other followers of Geelani have. Securing his son’s return could be Geelani’s way of wanting to neutralise their leadership ambitions. The very manner of Naeem Geelani’s return from Pakistan, in fact, raised political eyebrows in Kashmir. A doctor by profession -he did his MBBS from the Government Medical College in Srinagar and got his post-graduation from the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad - Naeem Geelani had allowed his Indian passport to lapse. The Indian high commission in Pakistan reportedly declined to renew it, virtually blocking his return to Kashmir. Last month, though, Naeem Geelani was suddenly granted temporary one-way travel documents that facilitated his return. The authorities are silent on how and why this happened, but the decision to permit his return has led to some talk in the Valley of a “deal” between the Geelanis and the government. Naeem Geelani, of course, denies that, too. “Why should there be any deal? I am just a person coming back home, you don’t need to do a deal for that.”


[Home] [Archives 2010]
Web site maintained by Md. Sadiq & Friends