Indian police charge family members of late resistance leader Syed Ali Geelani under a "draconian" anti-terror law for raising anti-New Delhi slogans and wrapping his body in Pakistani flag.

Indian troops walk past the grave of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a veteran Kashmiri resistance leader, at a graveyard in Srinagar, on September 3, 2021.
Indian troops walk past the grave of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a veteran Kashmiri resistance leader, at a graveyard in Srinagar, on September 3, 2021. (Reuters)

Police in India-administered Kashmir have charged family members of late resistance leader Syed Ali Geelani under a harsh anti-terror law for raising anti-India slogans and wrapping his body in the Pakistani flag, officials say.

Geelani, who died on Wednesday at age 92, was the emblem of Kashmir's defiance against New Delhi and had been under house arrest for many years.

His son, Naseem, said Indian authorities buried Geelani's body in a local cemetery without any family members present after police snatched his body from the home. 

Police denied that and called it "baseless rumours" by "some vested interests."

A video widely shared on social media purportedly showed Geelani's relatives, mostly women, frantically trying to prevent armed police from forcing their way into the room where his body, wrapped in Pakistani flag, was being kept. 

It showed women wailing and screaming as police took the body and locked Geelani's family and relatives inside the room.

Naseem said on Sunday that a police officer visited the family on Saturday and informed them a case had been registered. 

Naseem did not provide further details about the meeting, but said there were scuffles as the police removed his father's body.

"Amid the chaos, we didn't really know what was happening. We were mourning," said Naseem.

READ MORE: Geelani leaves a legacy of unflinching commitment to the Kashmir cause

Pakistan slams shameful case against Geelani's family

Police said unspecified family members and some others were charged on Saturday under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. 

They have not yet been taken into custody.

"Snatching body of 92-year-old Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Geelani and then registering cases against his family is just another shameful example of India's descent into fascism under Nazi-inspired" RSS-BJP government," said Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. 

READ MORE: India buries Geelani at the darkest hour, imposes strict curfew in Kashmir

Anti-terror law

The anti-terror law was amended in 2019 to allow the government to designate an individual as a terrorist. 

Police can detain a person for six months without producing any evidence, and the accused can subsequently be imprisoned for up to seven years. 

Rights activists have called the law draconian.

Kashmir has long been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan, which administer parts of the region while claiming it entirely.

Geelani spearheaded Kashmir's movement for the right to self-determination and was a staunch proponent of merging Kashmir with Pakistan. 

For many in Kashmir and beyond, he was an enduring icon of defiance against India.

READ MORE: Kashmiri resistance leader Syed Ali Geelani dies at 92

Most-militarised region 

Rebels have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. 

India has stationed some 500,000 troops in the region, making it one of the most heavily militarised in the world. 

Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the raging conflict.

Tensions flared in the region in 2019 after New Delhi stripped Kashmir's semi-autonomy, scrapped its statehood and removed inherited protections on land and jobs. 

Authorities have since brought a slew of new laws, which critics and many Kashmiris say will change region's Muslim demographics.

India describes the armed rebellion as Islamabad's proxy war and state-sponsored terrorism. 

Most Muslim Kashmiris consider it a legitimate freedom struggle and support the rebel goal that the territory be united, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.

READ MORE: Top Kashmiri leader asks Pakistan to withdraw from peace pacts with India

'Now his graveyard is a jail'

Meanwhile on Sunday, authorities eased some restrictions that had been imposed since Geelani's death, allowing some private vehicles on roads and vendors to operate in some parts of Srinagar.

Mobile phones were restored late on Friday but mobile internet and restrictions on the movement of people continued in many parts of the Kashmir Valley.

Paramilitary troops remained stationed outside the graveyard where Geelani was buried.

Ruwa Shah, Geelani's granddaughter, wrote on Twitter they were horrified by "what followed after our old man passed away."

His "home was a jail for over a decade and now his graveyard is a jail too," she said.

Source: AP