Syed Ali Shah Geelani is back to doing what he does best- anti India activities. Yesterday there was a controversy over the waving of Pakistan flags at a rally hosted by him and while this is nothing new, there is a dangerous precedent that is setting in- The resurrection of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the 85 year old separatist.
His clout over the years had come down a great deal, but looking at the manner in which he is functioning today, it becomes clear that the man is back in business and there is something very sinister that Pakistan is planning in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan will ensure that Geelani becomes a hero
For Pakistan Geelani continues to be a trump card. After all he is their most trusted separatist and despite his fading glory and age, they continue to rely on him the most.
Former Chief of the Research and Analysis Wing, C D Sahay says that there is something sinister taking place in Jammu and Kashmir. The media is not seeing this clearly and often passes off incidents in the region as small news.
For me the resurrection of Geelani is the news and the issue has to be tackled with extreme care and caution. It is becoming amply clear that Geelani who was being passed off as nuisance is slowly turning out to be a hero, Sahay also adds.
Intelligence Bureau officials say that there is a push being made by Pakistan to ensure that Geelani becomes a hero. He is constantly being prodded to up the ante and convert loyalties in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sahay asks should this rise of Geelani be acceptable? Should it be acceptable to the people of Kashmir? There is more national debate needed on this so that the so-called voiceless majority does not suffer.
Why fear this 85 year old?
Geelani's loyalties are not un-known. He too is very open about it and his love for Pakistan. He has called for several bandhs in the Valley and people have responded with fear.
The action against him by India is not the toughest and at times when questions relating to this are raised, there are really no answers that are forthcoming. Several politicians in the Valley believe that Geelani could be taken on board, but the reality is that ship has sailed.
This brings us to the next question is why does everyone fear this 85 year old man? He has health problems and despite this he can instill a sense of fear and no government has really gone after him.
There are several issues that make him the hardliner that Pakistan would love to nurture. He has not once shifted from his demand and has always maintained that there should be a referendum on Kashmir.
Several who have been close to him have often changed their stance, but that has not been the case of Geelani. He has called for strikes and has been accused of having links with militant groups apart from being on the pay rolls of Pakistan.
The fear factor
Geelani's biggest weapon is the fear he manages to generate. There are a few politicians in Jammu and Kashmir who continue to win elections with his support. He has a set of mindless youth who back him.
He has called for several bundhs which have been successful. Traders who do not support his view forcibly pull down shutters as Geelani is capable of orchestrating mindless violence which includes stone pelting.
Geelani has however defended himself by saying that this is the only thing that works in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Indian government has over the years tackled him with softly, but security agencies in Jammu and Kashmir warn that this approach cannot continue.
He has been detained on and off but always managed to come out. There is need to take strict action under the law and if this is not done then Geelani will slowly but surely go from being a nuisance to a hero.