Human rights bodies including FIDH, FORUM-ASIA, and OMCT have condemned the “serious human rights violations committed by Indian government authorities” in Kashmir following the death of Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on 1 September 2021.
The three organizations also condemn the imposition of restrictions that are inconsistent with the country’s international human rights obligations and urge the Indian government to end all acts of “harassment” against Geelani’s family members, the HR bodies said in a joint press statement
“As the news of Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s death broke on the night of 1 September, police and military forces blocked all roads and other access routes leading to Geelani’s home in Srinagar,” the statement said, adding “The armed forces also prevented media workers from reaching Geelani’s home. Family members said police removed Geelani’s body from his home, which prevented his family and other relatives from performing his final rites, including funeral prayers and the burial in accordance with Islamic practice.”
The statement quoting Geelani’s family, said: “In the early hours of 2 September, the police hastily buried Geelani at a graveyard near his home – an act that was against the leader’s wishes, as he wanted to be buried in the Martyrs Graveyard in Eidgah, Srinagar, nearly nine kilometers from his home.
No relatives of Geelani were allowed to attend his burial, which took place under a massive presence of armed forces.”
On 5 September 2021, police in Srinagar filed a first information report (FIR) against an unknown number of Geelani’s family members under the repressive Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Police accused them of shouting anti-India slogans and draping Geelani’s body in a Pakistani flag after his death, the statement said.
The communication blockade made it difficult for the people to access healthcare and other essential services in the region, it said.
The statement added: “The frequent communication blockades that have been imposed in Kashmir since August 2019 have been widely condemned locally and internationally. In August 2019, five United Nations (UN) human rights experts described the communication shutdown as collective punishment.”
While no curfew was officially declared, authorities also imposed blanket restrictions on freedom of movement and peaceful assembly in the Kashmir valley until 5 September. On the evening of 2 September, armed forces fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of about 300 people who had assembled in the Nawabazar area of Srinagar, reads the statement.
FIDH, FORUM-ASIA, and OMCT condemn the “violations of the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of movement, and freedom of religion or belief,” the statement said.
The three organizations urge the Indian government to ensure the people of Kashmir can exercise their legitimate rights in accordance with the human rights treaties to which India is a state party, it concludes.