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Restrictions, strict lockdown in Kashmir after region's iconic leader passed away

Syed Ali Safvi
Press TV, Kashmir

Streets remained deserted and business establishments closed in all major towns and the capital city of Indian administered Kashmir for the second day after the death of the region's veteran separatist leader, Syed Ali Geelani.

Indian forces continued a strong presence to prevent anti-government protests and enforce a strict lockdown. The authorities had also imposed near-total communication blockade across Kashmir as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order.

On Friday, additional deployments were made to prevent people from holding anti-government protests after the Friday prayers.

Geelani, the most powerful separatist leader in Kashmir, who spent many years in different jails, died on Wednesday evening at his Srinagar residence where he had remained incarcerated for the past decade.

As the news of his death spread far and wide, authorities swung into action and sealed the roads leading to Geelani's Hyderpora residence. Security was beefed up across the region, barricades erected and key roads sealed. Calling and internet services were shut.

According to his family members, the former lawmaker - who after quitting electoral politics in late 1980s had for years spearheaded the separatist movement in Kashmir - had desired to be buried in Srinagar's historic martyrs' graveyard. But the family members alleged that police forcibly took away his body and in a quiet funeral buried him in a graveyard near his residence.

Known for his pro-Pakistan stance, Geelani led several anti-India protests and marches. He became a house hold name during 2008 and 2010 public uprising in Kashmir. A staunch advocate of Kashmir's right to self-determination, Geelani had stepped down as Hurriyat Conference chairman after he suffered with ailing health. He was conferred Pakistan's highest civilian honor in 2020.

His death has been widely condoled with Pakistan's premier Imran Khan describing him as "Mujahide Kashmir".

Meanwhile, police spokesman has said that there has been no incident of violence or protests in Kashmir after Geelani's death.

Kashmir has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan. Both the nations claim the region in full but rule it in parts.

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