Syed Ali Shah Geelani's release has unleashed a new spurt of opinions. People across the political divide are engaged in a debate which essentially is no debate at all. Add to it a wildly uncontrolled behavior of some television anchors who are desperate to see him behind the cage again. If Geelani campaigns against elections, they counter-campaign against Geelani thereby depriving journalism of the bare decency it calls for. That is a sad story and about that less said the better.
One is really surprised at the way this whole subject has been taken. The comments range from ordinary to bizarre. One group believes his boycott campaign will only help National Conference as it is considered to have done in the past. They believe it will dent PDP vote bank as all the election boycotters expectedly come from this camp. The campaign is largely perceived to weaken NC. Then comes another shot. `Geelani has been set free to persuade Jama't-e-Islami to vote for PDP.' That will easily go as the absurdest of all we had so far.
What actually should have attended everyone's attention was Geelani's captivation, not his release. There was no debate when the man was not allowed to step out. For almost a year, his house-arrest was accepted as normal. Even denying him the freedom to visit his friends and relatives (which in no way would have disturbed social order) didn't ruffle up a feather. What has changed since? How has Geelani (who earlier `threatened' peace) suddenly turned harmless. If the state government was scared of the `trail of destruction' he was accused of leaving behind wherever he would go, would he do any different now. He would have done the same what he is now free to do. He would do nothing more than expressing himself and reaching out to people and persuading them to boycott the elections and not believing in Indian electoral system. No matter what the situation and how unpredictably the political equations change, Geelani's stand will be unchanged. So the man is to be accepted along-with his political stand. Free him or cage him, he will be unmoved. Don't agree with him, but don't gag him too.
In what we claim to be a democratic society persecuting a political leader of public standing is undemocratic. So if he has been restored the right to be free, why read too much into it. Just set him free and let him be himself.