We miss the gentle presence of Syed Abdul Rahman Geelani, friends and family at his condolence meet

Nusrat Geelani

“S.A.R Geelani was one of the most fearless and dignified people I ever met in my life,” narrating the experience with former Delhi University professor S.A.R Geelani, award winning author Arundhati Roy delivered an emotional address at a condolence meeting for him held at Gandhi Peace Foundation on Saturday.

Former colleagues, family members, friends and students also shared their memories of Geelani, who was a vocal critic of state repressions in Kashmir and rest of the India. Geelani was sentenced to death by a special court but later acquitted by the Supreme Court in the 2001 Parliament attack case.

“I want to talk about the Parliament attack. When Geelani was arrested, they ( media ) said he was the mastermind. I remember those headlines. When the court said the mastermind was not the mastermind, then it released Shaukat Hussain Guru ,Navjot Sandhu and Geelani. And We all know what they (court) said, when they hanged Afzal Guru. They said that they had no evidence to say that he belonged to a terrorist group and in order to satisfy the collective consciousness of the society they sentenced him to death,” Roy said.

“We still don’t know what happened in the Parliament attack. Let’s not forget that. Let’s not forget that all the people who told lie are still in the Media. They have no regrets. No one has come out and said that I spoiled and sorry that I destroyed the lives of all the people.” says Roy, who has raised the questions about the investigation into the Parliament attack and the trial of the accused.

Back in 2006, in her introduction to a collection of essays on the Parliament attack case trial, Roy asked the thirteen questions regarding the case, which were still unanswered.

Arundhati Roy

“It is not enough to say that Geelani was innocent. We want to know what happened in the case” she added.

“I remember this very extraordinary person. Extraordinary because, today we will not be able to fight this fight. He always stood for others. I am so happy to see this room full of people to celebrate the life of Professor Geelani. I really think he deserves a stadium full of people,” Roy told those gathered.

The meeting was called by various groups, including Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), NCHRO, Bhim Army, CRPP, United Against Hate, APCR, AISA, AISF, SFI, People’s Watch, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, KYS and DSU.

” He was just not father to us. More than a father, he was a friend and a guide. He was a center of our world,” shares Geelani’s daughter Nusrat.

“In 2014, when BJP government came into power, I literally begged him. I was like ‘Daddy, let’s leave the country. It is not safe. It is not safe for you.’ Then he replied, ‘Don’t be afraid. We will not get away from what destined to us even it is death’,” she recalled.

“He stood with the political prisoners and all the suffered people in the country. They will not feel helpless. There will be people who will always help them and carry forward his mission,” Nusrat, who decided to pursue her career as a lawyer told the audience.

“As Nusrat said, We also miss him. After Saibaba got arrested, Geelani Sahib stood with our family. He stood with us until his last breath”, Vasantha Saibaba, wife of Delhi professor GN Saibaba sentenced for Maoist links said in an emotional address at the meeting.

“He was there in our crisis. He was with all families who faced the fascist state’s repressions,” she adds after a pause.

“He remains an extraordinary figure on the landscape that we all have it. We do miss the gentle presence of Syed Abdul Rahman Geelani.” film-maker Sanjay Kak said.

“He is a friend to the Naga people and he was deeply respected by the Nagas. We had a shared belief and shared struggle. He is not anymore with us. But we will continue the fight for which he led in his life. We will celebrate his life,” Chingri Vashum, convenor of Delhi based Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights said.

Others present, including activist and educationist Prof G Haragopal, Prof. Madhu Prasad, the former professor in the Delhi University, Nandita Narain, president of Delhi University Teachers Association, DU faculties Rakesh Ranjan, Sachin Narayanan and Hany Babu spoke of how S.A.R Geelani was labelled a “criminal” and “terrorist” in University of Delhi where he taught.

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