Death of Syed Ali Geelani, aged 92, has heightened tensions in disputed Himalayan territory after India refused to allow resistance leader's burial at the site he had wished and let him have a public funeral.

Syed Ali Shah Geelani was widely venerated by Kashmiris, who gave him a monicker of
Syed Ali Shah Geelani was widely venerated by Kashmiris, who gave him a monicker of "Bub," which means "the father." (AFP Archive)

Thousands of Indian troops have maintained a tough lockdown across disputed Kashmir after the death of a top resistance leader sparked clashes with anti-India protesters.

The death of Syed Ali Geelani at the age of 92 heightened tensions in the disputed Himalayan territory after Indian authorities refused to allow his burial at the site he had wished and let him have a public funeral. 

Authorities said an internet and mobile phone shutdown ordered after the resistance icon died late on Wednesday would continue and tight security was expected around Friday prayers in the main city of Srinagar.

Many mosques in the Muslim-majority region have announced that they would say special prayers for Geelani.

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

Police accused of seizing Geelani's body

Thousands of police and paramilitary troops manned barricades and patrolled streets to keep people indoors following clashes between residents and Indian forces in Srinagar late on Thursday.

Police fired tear gas to disperse stone-throwing protesters but no injuries were reported.

Geelani's son accused police of taking his father's body away to be buried in the middle of the night, hours after his death.

The family said no relatives were allowed at the burial but police rejected the allegations as "false propaganda".

A video widely shared on social media showed police in a scuffle with Geelani's relatives before taking away his body that was wrapped in a Pakistani flag.

"At about 3:00 am, police barged inside our home and took our father's body," one of his sons, Naseem Geelani, told AFP news agency.

"We insisted that we would perform his funeral after morning prayers and bury him according to his wish at the Martyrs Cemetery."

Police "snatched my father's body and did not allow anyone from our family to participate in the burial", the son added.

"We heard later that police undertook washing rituals for my father's body and had him buried."

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

Backer of UN-monitored plebiscite 

Geelani, who had spent much of the past five decades in jail or under house arrest, had infuriated successive Indian governments with his pro-Pakistan stance and demands for a UN-backed self-determination vote.

Geelani was an ideologue and a staunch proponent of the merger of Kashmir with Pakistan. Over the years, he had repeatedly said no to any talks with New Delhi, asserting that "India can't be trusted unless it calls Kashmir a disputed territory, demilitarises the region and releases political prisoners for a meaningful dialogue."

The nuclear-armed neighbours have disputed the region since their independence in 1947 and have fought two wars over Kashmir.

Kashmir's fury at Indian rule has long been seething. After a series of political blunders, broken promises and a crackdown on dissent, Kashmiri activists launched a full-blown armed revolt against Indian rule in 1989.

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.

Pakistan observed a day of official mourning for Geelani on Thursday. 

Hundreds of people staged a protest against India after attending the funeral prayer in absentia for Geelani in Islamabad, Pakistan on Wednesday.

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

Most-militarised region

India imposed a similar internet shutdown and other restrictions for nearly a year after stripping the territory of its semi-autonomy and annexing it in 2019. 

An insurgency against Indian rule erupted in 1989 and has left tens of thousands of dead. Security forces still fight near daily gun battles with rebels.

Indian has stationed some 500,000 troops in the tiny Muslim-majority region – the highest concentration of troops anywhere in the world. 

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

Source: AFP