Indian authorities sometimes tried to get Mr. Geelani to ease tensions. In 2016, protests and violence eruption after Indian police killed a militant commander, Burhan Wani. In response, Mr. Geelani and other resistance leaders laid out “protest calendars” that dictated when demonstrations would be held and when shops would open and close. Indian officials tried to talk him and other leaders out of it, but Mr. Geelani refused to take part, calling the outreach a “mere optic for Indian media.”
Mr. Geelani’s influence ebbed in recent years. Last year he resigned as the leader of the Hurriyat Conference, citing infighting within the group and its inability to stop India’s 2019 crackdown, which swept aside a degree of autonomy that New Delhi had long extended to the region.
He married twice. Besides two daughters from a previous marriage, Anisha and Farhat, he is survived by his wife, Jawahira Begum, and two daughters, Zamshida and Chamshida, and two sons, Nayeem and Naseem.
Despite his age and growing frailty, Mr. Geelani remained defiant.
In a video posted online in 2018, Mr. Geelani knocks at the door of his home from the inside, telling Indian soldiers to let him out so that he could offer prayers at the funeral of a relative.
“Open the door. I won’t fly away,” Mr. Geelani tells the officers. “We want to perform a funeral for your democracy.”
Suhasini Raj in Lucknow, India, contributed reporting.