Restrictions on public movement and a near-total communications blackout continued in Jammu and Kashmir for the second consecutive day on Friday after the death of separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani,
Under house arrest since 2008, the 92-year-old veteran politician died on Wednesday night after being unwell for several months. Shortly after the news broke, the authorities curtailed public movement in the Valley and announced a communication blockade to prevent protests.
All cellphone networks, except BSNL postpaid connections, have been blocked and internet services are also suspended. On fixed lines, internet services are working but the network speed has been reduced.
Officials said curbs were intensified in downtown Srinagar and some uptown parts of the city because of the congregational prayers that are held on Friday.
Barricades have been put up on roads leading to Geelani’s house in Srinagar and security has been strengthened in other areas to stop people from coming out on the streets.
The police said they will review the situation on Friday afternoon and decide on lifting the restrictions, Greater Kashmir reported.
“General public is requested not to pay heed to the rumours being spread by the anti-national elements especially across the border who are trying to take undue advantage of the situation and to disturb the peaceful atmosphere in [the] valley,” a police spokesperson added.
Since the early 1960s, Geelani had campaigned for Jammu and Kashmir to be merged with Pakistan. He was opposed to talks with the Indian government for years and routinely called for the boycott of elections held in Kashmir.
Geelani had reportedly wished to be buried at Srinagar’s martyrs graveyard in the old city. But his family told Al Jazeera that the police “snatched his body and forcibly buried him” in funeral organised by the authorities.
“But they [the police] took the body forcefully at 3 am and did not allow any of us to take part in the last prayers,” his son Naseem Geelani told the television channel. “They even argued with the women in the family who resisted taking away his body.” The police denied this and claimed that that Geelani’s relatives participated in his last rites.