The Man and the Life

Autobiography of a person who has stayed on the political firmament of Kashmir for decades together

Book: WularKinaray
Author: Syed Ali Geelani
Publisher: Millat Publications
Pages: 686
Reviewer: Inam-ul-Rehman

Geelani was nearly 60 when he was arrested once more, after the armed militancy broke out in Kashmir. This time he was treated very harshly as his account goes. He was not given any scant respect because of his age and stature. Jail for Geelani was not a new thing, interrogation was.
While the Sheikh Abdullah created fear of jails among his supporters by repeatedly parroting the lines that prison finally broke his “resolve”, Geelani, inspires resistance members to come over the fear of prison as it tests ones resolve. It is in prison that one understands himself, comes closer to the reality of the State and its oppression.
Respecting Opponents
Despite severe political and ideological differences Sheikh M Abdulah,Geelani narrates couple of heart-warming incidents between the two (p255, 269). He is not shy in mentioning that tears came out when he heard the news of Sheikh Abdullah’s death (p307). In fact the book is replete with many such incidents—be they his tormentors or detractors.
Critique Within
Despite serving as an MLA Geelani along with his party continued to raise the issue of Kashmir as a pressing political problem. Being a member of legislature Geelani, privy to the assembly function, realises from the beginning that the legislative assembly has little say in the affairs of the State. “Which forum,” writes Geelani, “of democracy we didn’t use. But our democratic voices were silenced through bullets and rifle butts.” (p397).
But armed resistance, notes Geelani, is the last option for resistance movements. However, it requires years of planning and discipline. But in case of Kashmir, bemoans the resistance leader, people joined the armed movement without actually preparing themselves for this. (p449). The senior most leader of the Kashmir mentions some fatal errors that armed resistance committed in the name of freedom. With guns in their hands the youth thought that they don’t need anyone’s assistance or guidance. If only, deplores Geelani, they had heeded the advice of mature political leadership and taken them on board the course of armed resistance would have been different (p446-454). He also laments that if Muslim United Front had not been disbanded there would not have been a political vacuum in the early 90s.
The fight of this man is not personal, against any party or for glory. He had option to be like his political opponent Sheikh Abdullah, but Geelani choose to fight rather than succumb. His fight is against tyranny. Against a system that surgically removed around five hundred thousand Muslims from the Jammu. His fight is against the system whose “emergency administration” was decorating itself for power while the Muslims in Jammu were being massacred. He wants to establish a system based on justice, compassion, equality. A system free of deception where poor are not considered necessary evil for voting.
The author doesn’t forget to mention the events of 1979 when the Jama’at people were relentlessly hunted in many parts of Valley. He has tried to open a window into this event showing how the NC government at time silently supported the hooligans to loot Jam’at property.
At the end the author very rightly raises some disturbing questions. Why secularists and moderates tend to lean towards compromise? Why they are given privileges and relaxation while the others, believed to be hardliners, are hounded?
The book must be translated in other languages and Urdu newspapers in particular should publish its excerpts from time to time. Further, its price should be slashed significantly, bringing out a paperback, so that it is readily available for maximum people.

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Lastupdate on : Wed, 21 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 21 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 22 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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