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SOURCE: TNN

Tehreek-e-Hurriyat ex-chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s deteriorating health sparked off rumours in the Valley over the past couple of days with a Pakistan-based separatist group urging Kashmir-based madrasa teachers and students to hold special prayer sessions for his health while also asking people to march towards Eidgah in Srinagar in the event of his death.

While the statement issued by All Parties Hurriyat Conference from Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir on Wednesday did raise security concerns in J&K, DGP Dilbag Singh told TOI that it was part of a design by Pakistan-based elements to provoke Kashmiris by citing Geelani’s “continued detention” and setting off rumours about his impending death to create a security scare in Srinagar coinciding with the visit by a delegation of 25 envoys.

“It was a ploy by Pakistan-based elements to mobilise crowds and project Kashmir as ‘troubled’ before the foreign delegation. However, the propaganda was effectively countered with statements issued by Geelani’s own family, his doctor as well as local administration and police denying the rumours of his death and clarifying that he was stable,” Singh said.

Geelani has been ailing for several years now and has been mostly confined to his home. After speculation was rife on Wednesday evening, authorities discontinued mobile services, which were only resumed on Thursday afternoon when statements were released by Geelani’s family members that he was stable.

While authorities in J&K told TOI that Geelani was now “fine” after a health emergency, the local administration appears to have prepared for all scenarios, including his death, given his advanced age and medical condition. Sources said Geelani has willed his funeral to be held at Hyderpora in Srinagar, even though the All Parties Hurriyat Conference based in Pakistan urged people to gather for his funeral at the Eidgah ground.