"You cannot go inside. First seek permission from DGP (Director General of Police)," quipped one of the cops posted outside the fortified house of Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani at Hyderpora here.
An armored vehicle of paramilitary CRPF mounted with hi-tech cameras and a police truck have blocked the entrance to the octogenarian leader's residence. On insistence, a cop phoned his senior officer saying "Sir, some journalists from Greater Kashmir want to meet Geelani."
After receiving cold response which was apparent from his facial expression, the cop hung the phone. "You cannot meet him (Geelani)… I told you only DGP can permit you to go inside," he said as some paramilitary troopers and cops huddled around a kerosene heater outside the main gate of Geelani's house.
Greater Kashmir contacted some senior police officers, but the response was: "DGP looks after the issue."
Geelani is under continuous house arrest since July 8 when Hizb Commander BurhanWani was killed in an encounter in south Kashmir. On September 20, authorities for the first time deputed a posse of CRPF outside the house.
A white colored police truck outside Geelani's house has been converted into a makeshift bedroom of cops. "We have been camping here in shifts," remarked a cop. "Our job is to prevent Geelani from moving out of house. There are standing directions not to allow anyone to enter Geelani's house without permission," he said.
During past several months of unrest, civil society members and journalists from New Delhi met Geelani.
On September 4, Geelani had refused to meet SitaramYechury, SharadYadav and D Raja who were part of an All-Party delegation of parliamentarians.
On October 26, a five-member delegation, led by former union minister and BharatiyaJanata Party leader Yashwant Sinha, met Geelani at his residence.
On December 18, former minister in charge of PMO and ex-RajyaSabha member, Kamal Morarka had also met Geelani.
"Many people in Kashmir want to meet Geelani sahib, but the authorities allow politicians, civil society members and journalists mostly from New Delhi to meet him. By this authorities want to portray that some kinds of talks on Kashmir issue are going on," said Geelani's elder son NayeemGeelani.
"The fact is that Geelani sahib is not even allowed to offer congregational Friday prayers. Few months ago, he was not even allowed to attend marriage ceremonies of his grandchildren. This is sheer interference into his religious and social affairs," Nayeem said.
He said for last eight years, authorities frequently placed Geelani sahib under house arrest whenever he is in Kashmir. "But in last six months, he has been placed under continuous house arrest," Nayeem added.
On October 23, police had laid a siege on Geelani's residence detaining NayeemGeelani while stopping his younger son NaseemGeelani from entering his father's residence.
"This is also a human rights violation to stop son from meeting his father," said Naseem. "Recently, one of close relatives of Geelani sahib passed away at TujjarSharief. He was not allowed to visit the bereaved family to offer condolence," he added.
On November 8, authorities allowed joint resistance leadership to hold meeting with stakeholders. However, on December 12, they disallowed the Seerat Conference organized by Geelani by blocking all roads reading to his house.
"Geelani sahib's house has been virtually turned into a sub-jail. Even in jail visitors are allowed to meet their loved ones, but in Geelani sahib's case, he has been even denied this right. This is psychological torture to confine an 88-year old man to house for last over eight years," said a leader of Hurriyat (G).
Pertinently, Geelani is on pacemaker since 1997. In 2003, his left kidney was removed at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai as it had developed carcinoma. In 2004, his gall bladder was removed at Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi. He was again operated upon in 2007 and half of his right kidney was removed. In 2008, a new pacemaker was installed at Escorts Heart Institute Delhi. In 2010, his eyes were operated upon at Apollo Hospital in Delhi. In March this year, Geelani was admitted in a hospital in New Delhi after he complained of chest pain.
"During the last nearly a decade, illegal confinement of Geelani sahib has taken heavy toll on his health. For even conducting his medical tests in hospitals, we have to seek permission from police. The cops even accompany us to diagnostic laboratories and hospitals," Naseem rued.
"The decision to bar local journalists and civilians from meeting Geelani has been taken at higher level. We are implementing the order," said a senior officer of police department wishing anonymity.