On 18 July 2016, the journalist Iqbal Kirmani organised an interview with Syed Ali Shah Geelani, one of the most prominent and powerful separatist leaders in Kashmir. The questions were sent to Geelani, who has been under house arrest, and the interview was recorded on a mobile phone. The identity of the person who asked Geelani the questions that Kirmani had sent him, has been concealed for his protection. The recorded interview was then handed back to Kirmani. It is the first public statement Geelani has made since protests broke out in the Kashmir valley after the death of the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. On 25 July, Geelani was taken into preventive custody after he defied prohibitory orders and attempted to march towards the Anantnag district of south Kashmir. He has reportedly been released.
Anonymous: In the aftermath of Burhan Wani’s death, how do you view the wave of protests that has engulfed Kashmir?
Syed Ali Shah Geelani: See, the present wave dates back to India’s forcible and unlawful occupation [of Jammu and Kashmir] since 1947, against which there has been continuous resistance. Till now, six lakh lives have been sacrificed against India’s forcible occupation. The present revolutionary zeal is a part of this resistance that has been ongoing for the past 67 years. The people here never accepted India’s forcible occupation wholeheartedly. They have always resisted it and made great and incomparable sacrifices. So, after Commander Burhan’s martyrdom, the deep adherence shown by the people to this resistance and these martyrs has given it a new life. This should be carried on in any way possible.