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India locks down Kashmir following death of top separatist leader

Indian authorities cracked down on public movement and imposed a near-total communications blackout in Kashmir following the death of Syed Ali Geelani, a prominent leader of Kashmir's movement for the right to self-determination. 

Geelani died last Wednesday aged 91 and as soon as news of his death began to make the rounds in the disputed Himalayan region, authorities blocked the internet and deployed hundreds of troops in the main city of Srinagar to prevent a mass funeral procession or protests against Indian rule. Geelani was buried in a local graveyard organised by the authorities under harsh restrictions against his families wishes. His son Naseem Geelani, told the Associated Press how his family had planned to bury him at the main martyrs' graveyard in Srinagar, the region's main city, but were not allowed to do so by police.

"They snatched his body and forcibly buried him. Nobody from the family was present for his burial. We tried to resists but they overpowered us and even scuffled with women," Naseem Geelani said speaking to the Associated Press. 

For decades, Geelani was the symbol of popular resistance for the Kashmiris. Kashmiri rebels have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. Most Kashmiris support the rebel goal of merging the region with Muslim-majority Pakistan or creating an independent country. Until June last year, Geelani headed the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), an umbrella group of various Kashmiri political and religious groups formed in 1993 to spearhead a movement for the region’s right to self-determination.

Read more here.

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