Geelani – portrait of a life

Vular Kinaray – A Review
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The tradition of writing autobiographies is old. In previous epochs with few means of entertainment and information they remained popular substitute to poetic epics. Babar wrote his autobiography and it remains an important source of history of that era. Jahangir too wrote one and it again serves as a source of medieval history.

In recent past we have seen Sheikh Abdulla writing his biography when he became politically irrlevant and the autobiography provided an excuse for that irrlevance . Ayoub Khan resorted to writing of “Friends not Masters”.. In immediate past we witnessed General Musharraf writing his “In the line of fire”. Despite these apologies the three could not escape the wrath of public either prior to or after their death.

Latest in this series remains “Wular Kinare” of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Minute personal details and engagements of Geelani with Jama’at activity have made it lengthy and a cumbersome read. Despite this, its first edition was completely sold out within a week. Those who were keen to read it included whole of Civil and Military elites of every shade of opinion. The way book has been received is not surely the merit of the book rather that of the personality who has authored it.

I had a privilege of going through the book while it was in early stages of its preparation. The author wanted me to go through it and suggest any changes that may be needed. I was too small a person to resort to any major transformation of the script. I however, did suggest trimming down of the manuscript by deleting unnecessary personal details and narration of Geelani Sahab’s preoccupations with Jama’at work. Geelani sahab did agree to looking at the script, however, as mentioned by him in the preface receptiveness to this suggestion got dwarfed in front of the praise that his writings received from those who are in his proximity.

The book continues to be over burdened with minute personal details, repetition of discourses (Roudad of Jamma’at programs). Both these aspects already remain covered in some of his previous writtings. Where as some new revelations do exist within the script but personally, I would have liked Geelani Sahab to devote more of his time in devising strategies and formulating plans relating to present and future. He remains the rallying point and a ray of hope for a beleaguered nation that is consistently exposed to shocks of ever changing cycles of expectations and depressions. It is unfortunate that documentation of people’s miseries remains last priority of pro-freedom leadership, where as personal incidents pre-occupy their attention. When we plead Kashmir cause, we are asked to furnish details of our dead, tortured, detained, disappeared, violated, and not the information as to from whom Geelani sahib purchased poplars for construction of his house. This documentation to the delight of our tormentors is neither pursued nor facilitated by our leadership. Revolutionaries do not remain bothered and pre-occupied with past. They remain pre-occupied with coping up ordeals of present and engaged in shaping destiny of future of their nations.

Autobiographies do become a source of inspiration for new generations but it is ultimately the achievements and resilience of a leader that make him indispensable for future. History judges everyone not on the basis of his autobiography but on the basis of his ultimate contributions and steadfastness. Geelani Sahab has an impeccable past; he does not need to elaborate on it. Kashmir has already acknowledged it. What matters however, remains his capacity to influence the future. Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah too received support and admiration during his lifetime. What made him a villain after his demise was the web within which his nation found itself and accredited it to his account. Options for Geelani sahab remain the same that is to get swayed by the present euphoria and be condemned by future generations or be oblivious to past and present, orient the resistance so that Kashmir is able to get out of the subjugation within which it feels itself trapped.


Success for leaders is not assessed by their practical achievements but by the steadfastness and their capacity of remaining focussed during ups and downs of struggle. It is precisely this quality of Omar Mukhtar that made him a hero whereas huge achievements in terms of Land reforms, provision of medical facilities and erection of domes couldn’t rescue Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. Given the fact that Geelani sahab has already compiled a plethora of information about himself let the job of ascertaining his real worth be left to contemporary chroniclers. Let Geelani Sahab give priority to articulation of a future; The future for which generations have perished, the future that has remained and remains our dream, the future that awaits us.