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‘My Son Was Forced To Pick Up The Gun’: Ahmed Wani On His Son Being The Face Of Insurgency In Kashmir

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By Mir Basit Hussain for Youth Ki Awaaz:

muzaffar ahmed wani Home 2Shareefabad, in Tral, South Kashmir, looks like any other village in the valley. However, a 21-year-old boy who used to live in a three-storey house in front of the village mosque has made the area known to everyone interested in conflict-ridden zones of the world.

Burhan Muzaffar Wani, often described as the ‘poster boy’ of the new phase of insurgency in the valley, is the new district commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen and a most wanted militant nowadays. Upon entering his house, I see a Wagon-R and a modified motorbike parked up front; the family is well-to-do by local standards. His father, Muzaffar Ahmed Wani appears from the rear entry of the house with his hand out for a shake.

“Last time I spoke to the national media, I was disappointed. My full statement was not used. They used only a portion of it,” Wani tells me straight away.

He is referring to a report by a mainstream Delhi-based newspaper. What it used was, “Islam allows you to go for Jihad (struggle) against cruelty and oppression. My son has chosen this path for himself.”

Wani, while holding his beard in his hands, adds that he was hoping they would show the reason behind Burhan picking up the gun. “They didn’t include the root cause. And that is what India is doing to our children here. Their policies towards the population here are the real reason for that (the militancy). Young boys are getting radicalized because of the everyday torture and humiliation they face.”

Wani adds, “Burhan is not the only one or the first one. ‘Yahaan aag pehlay se lagi hui hai (Kashmir is already burning). Toh us aag ko bujhanay kay liye pani chahiye, petrol nahi. (So to douse that fire, you need water, not petrol).’ They didn’t use this statement of mine.”

Wani, the principal of the Higher Secondary School of Tral, also alleges that another statement of his was twisted. He says that the statement which they twisted was that “if guns would be readily available, the majority would decide to use them.” According to him, they omitted the reasoning behind the youth taking up such steps.

He further clarifies, “Now anyone can claim that I promote gun culture. But I don’t. I just wanted to highlight the reason (behind it).”

As a father whose one son was allegedly killed in an “encounter”, and another is the ‘poster boy’ of militancy, how does he stay calm? Wani says he finds solace in the belief that a ‘martyr’ never dies. “First of all, I am mentally prepared for that. I do get disturbed sometimes that one day I will see him (Burhan) dead. Then I remind myself that Allah is above everything. I know my son (Khalid) is with Allah and alive. Burhan is away from me, and I do feel for that. But I know that if he dies on this path, he too will be a martyr,” Wani asserts.

He says this is what keeps him alive. “Otherwise, if I start thinking that my 24-year-old son was murdered and the other will die any day, then I don’t know what will happen to me. I can’t take care of worldly affairs then.”

Khalid, Burhan’s elder brother was shot down by security personnel last year in August in the forests of Tral. The security establishment claimed that he was shot down in an “encounter” while trying to meet his brother Burhan. They also claimed that he was getting young men to join the HM.

kashmir-militant-burhan-m-008Reconciliation Attempts

Senior Wani reveals that many Army officers have approached him to ‘convince’ Burhan to surrender. However, Wani makes it clear that firstly, he is not in touch with Burhan and secondly, and more importantly, his son is not going to surrender. “Many times that has happened. One Army officer told me that he will be given a 6-month term if he surrendered. Another told me that he will be set free if he lays down his weapons. But as far as I know my son, he will not surrender.”

The only reason Wani gives for that is, “Islam mein do cheezein hoti hain, Gazi ya Shaheed (In Islam, there are only two things, victory or martyrdom). Surrender sirf Allah kay samnay hota hai. ( Surrender is only in front of Allah).”

He also maintains that Burhan is not out fighting a personal war. “He is not out there settling personal feuds. If it would have been personal, then a negotiation might have been possible. But it’s a matter of Islam. That is not negotiable.”

Change In Burhan

Reports say that Burhan and his deceased brother Khalid were beaten up by the forces in which Khalid was knocked unconscious, back in 2010. That was the day Burhan decided to take ‘revenge’.

However, senior Wani says that one random incident didn’t change his son. “Almost everyone here has been beaten up by the Army. You also must have had your share. But everyone didn’t become a militant. It depends on how much one can take. Yeh aap ki ghairat pe depend karta hai (It depends on your self-respect). Someone’s ‘Ghairat’ got challenged time and again, so he decided to answer back. Others decided to stay quiet. My son couldn’t bear to see the atrocities and the humiliation, so he was forced to choose the path which he is on right now,” Wani explains.

Return With Respect

Wani, like others, believes that Burhan was forced to pick up the gun. He expresses his wish of seeing him return home one day, but with respect. Wani also ‘prays’ that the renewed peace talks between India and Pakistan should succeed.

“Maybe if there is some kind of reconciliation between India and Pakistan, in which our representatives, the Hurriyat, are on board, they might devise a policy under which rebels can come back to normal life,” he says. He adds, “We pray to Allah that something comes out of the talks. We want peace. I want my son to come back, but with respect. Not shackled or chained.”

However, he feels that when the Hurriyat is left out, it shows that India’s intentions are not honest. “When they don’t involve the Hurriyat, that shows that India doesn’t want to settle this issue. If they involve Hurriyat, NC (National Conference) and PDP(Peoples Democratic Party) will lose their chair. There are and will be three stakeholders- India, Pakistan and Kashmir. All three have to be included. Two cannot decide our fate. We have to be a part of it,” Wani asserts.

Illegal Detentions During VIP Visits

muzaffar ahmed waniWhen President Barak Obama come to New Delhi in 2014, Wani and his now-deceased son Khalid, sitting miles away in Tral, were detained for a couple of days, he claims. The same thing happened during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit last year, he says.

“I have faced a lot of problems after 2010, especially in 2012. They (police) used to detain me whenever militants used to strike. One day, unknown men snatched rifles from the police; they detained me and Khalid for 5 days. When Obama had come to Delhi, they detained Khalid! He missed his exams due to that,” Wani adds.

Wani alleges that every time a bullet was fired by someone, he was detained along with Khalid unnecessarily. “A Sarpanch (village head) got shot and again Khalid and I were put behind bars. During the elections (Parliamentary as well as assembly) we used to be put under detention. Khalid on an average used to spend two months in a year in jail. Most of the time they used to take us to the Tral police station, sometimes to Avantipora station,” a dejected Wani rues.

He also mentions that with him, Imams (prayer leaders) were also detained, which he feels was a direct attack on Islam. “I was detained for two days during Modi’s visit. Why? Also, Imams of various mosques were detained. They thought we might incite people in the mosque. We discuss Islam in the mosque. So according to me they put a curb on Islam by detaining the Imams.”

Being A Principal And Burhan’s Father

Wani had to face problems on the professional front as well for being a militant’s father. “They (Govt.) transferred me to another, far off location. I came here (Tral) on public demand as principal of the Higher Secondary school. Just after three days, I was transferred to district Shopian, that too in a far-flung village, just because I am Burhan’s father. Now I am back after two years. It was very difficult for me,” he alleges.

He feels that regular raids don’t bother him now. However, the police troubling him and his family without any reason remains a matter of concern. “They (police) raid our house every now and then. That is a routine for us now. And we don’t have a problem with that. It’s their duty. But when they unnecessarily used to detain and trouble Khalid and even me, that used to mentally disturb every one of us. They have searched our home may be a thousand times. Not only rooms, they check the walls to see if anyone is hiding,” says Wani.

facebookNot Burhan’s Fight But Everyone’s

Wani also feels that the media and the people have put an unnecessary focus on Burhan. “I don’t really like it when people talk too much about Burhan as if he has started it. I always say that he is not the first one,” he says.

He adds, “I saw his first video on the television on a news channel. They were translating what Burhan wants to tell India. Since 1989, Kashmiris want freedom from India. It’s not just Burhan’s fight. It’s the whole of Kashmir which aspires for that. Burhan is one of them. If you go back in time, (you can) see how many were killed in Srinagar, Sopore, Anaantnag and other districts. More than a lakh people have died. What were they searching for? Azadi (Freedom). Even the separatists, (Syed Ali Shah) Geelani, Mirwaiz (Umar Farooq), (Yasin) Malik, (Shabir) Shah, what do they want? The same thing. Their way is different. Some of them picked up the gun first too. They are fighting it politically now. But at the end, the aim is the same. When all this started, Burhan was not even born,” notes a smiling Wani.

NC Was Bad, PDP Has Crossed All Limits

Khalid was the first civilian who was killed after Mufi Mohammad Sayeed took over as the state’s CM. (This interview was conducted before Sayeed passed away).

“At that time we thought a new government is in place and Mufti might do something,” Wani recounts.

However, Wani alleges that PDP has crossed the limits set by NC. “We had some hopes from PDP. Maybe, 10 percent more as compared to National Conference. But the role they have played in the current government, they have crossed the limits set by NC. They (NC) were cruel too, but not like them. Right now, Muslims have no value,” feels Wani.

When reminded that Mufti had said in the same video report by the Delhi-based paper that boys have no option but to resort to the gun, Wani says, “They have their own politics to take care of. If free and fair elections are held here, a new ‘Jamaat’ will emerge victorious. They won’t even be politicians, but unknown faces. It’s their duty to oppose each other (PDP and National Conference).”

You must be to comment.
  1. amit

    What is the purpose of this story? What editor's want to explain country & its people?

  2. Berkut

    Are you justifying the terrorism in Kashmir, editor ? There were dissidents in Kashmir, but wasn't ISI that created terrorism & led to this chaos? Why is that reason not getting into the heads of these people?

  3. ringer

    So much BS condensed into so little space. You are a militant because you wanted to be. If getting beaten up by policemen is what ‘made’ you join militancy, then by that reason half of India should be militants. Why do Kashmiris act like they are some special victims? What they are undergoing, many other states and communities underwent and are undergoing. Comunists used to kill Anand Margis in Bengal, Andhra officers killed Telangana activists, higher castes killed tribals. They didn’t turn against the country. Yiu on the other hand betray not just the nation, but also fellow Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims. You are not a terrorist because you were victimized, you are a terrorist because you are a Islamic fanatic, and you want to ethnically cleanse Kashmir. A real victim feels the pain of other victims, and doesn’t threaten to kill and rape them. Your hypocrisy and your son’s hypocrisy are self evident.

  4. Tilak Raj

    jis chulay( stove) mei aag( fire) jalti hai ,, woh toh usay he pata hota hai,

    Har shehar( (city) ka apna dard(pain)

  5. Suresh Nair

    His tears understandable but not his frustration, especially justifying murder of innocents. As a father he should have known where is his son heading to. What happened to his son is not something happened to him alone it happens not in India only it happens everywhere under every government and if every one takes arms and start killing innocent people then there will not be enough cemeteries left in this whole world.

  6. Khan Illyas

    Brothers and sisters, in Kashmir Valley We are All Burhan we Are Dr. Zakir Naik let me tell you we are here to tell you that we charge the cunning India and indians . We charge the India and indians with being the greatest murderer on earth. We charge India and indians with being the greatest kidnapper on earth. There is no place in this world that India and indians can go and say they created peace and harmony. Everywhere they are gone there have created havoc. Everywhere India has gone they created destruction. So we charge India and indians with being the greatest kidnapper on this earth. we charge them with being the greatest murderer on this earth. We charge them with being the greatest robber and enslaver on this earth. We charge India and indians with being the greatest swine-eater on this earth, the greatest drunkard on this earth. they cant deny the charges. You can’t deny the charges. We’re the living proof of those charges. You and I are the proof. We are not Fucking indians we are the victim of shit hole india. Being born here in Kashmir does not make us an motherfucker indians we are not indians behenchood. We kashmiris we’ve never seen any democracy. We have not seen no democracy in the gardens of kashmir. We didn’t see any democracy on the streets of Srinagar and other districts wasn’t democracy down there. No, we’ve never seen democracy; all we’ve seen is hypocrisy. We don’t see any Indian dream fucking Indian dreams We’ve experienced only the indian nightmare.. I spit on the flag of India I piss on the Constitution on India I spit on India a fucking cunning india

    1. Piyush gathala

      I feel disappointed when you said so. I understand that kashmir is one of the worst place to live in, today. But do people out there understand that the freedom that Kashmir wanted was not about religion.
      It is something that Pakistan put up in heads of kashmiris, and you see there are terrorist organizations in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, and giving guns and making people hate someone is far far easier than making someone understand importance of education and keep patience for 15 years of education.

      But when a kashmiri says that it all just fell upon them, they need to look in mirror. This man says Kashmir needed freedom from India since 1989, kashmiris were thrown out of their homelands 5 years before that. Does anyone remember that, are they making a terrorist group for Hinduism and asking for revenge?

      And then, this man says that the person who does not retaliate is lacking self respect. You people killed so many armymen and CRPF jawan, do their children come to you and kill you for retaliation. No, because they are not this low, an eye for an eye is not the answer.

      If someone wishes to glorify an intelligent child who became terrorist, they have to acknowledge and remember Shah Faisal, whose father was killed by terrorists. Did he go and pick up arms to kill that terrorist? No.

      And at this point I would advice people to watch and learn from American History X movie, that guy was intelligent too. And intelligent enough to realize in time, that his actions are not making anyone’s life better.

      Well, if you wish to see martyrs, the biggest are those like shah Faizal, who did not give up to human tendency of revenge and did not lead to such large scale violence because his relative was killed.

    2. Piyush gathala

      Please ignore my first reply, second one has corrected spellings of the mistakes in first one.
      Regards!

    3. Indie Indizen

      Muslims are possessed by a evil spirit called Islam. evil spirit blinds the Muslims in a cocoon of its miserable mythology.
      They cant live in peace hence dig out reasons to terrorize the environment around. Islam is curse on earth that has to be washed.
      they day a Muslim gets out of the evil spirit of Islam he will start seeing the world around him different. I hope Muslims should try and meditate to get out of this possession of evil spirit. Whether it is Kashmir, IRQ, Syria, or any part of the world where Muslims have gone and settled.

    4. rashmi bokolial

      Mr Khan … If you have so much problem with India and Indian than why the hell are u in India … tell you kashmiri Muslims to go back to Pakistan … Let us also see how much will they welcome you guys ….. Hamara namakh khate ho aur hamehi gali dete ho… Jao aur pakistan ka namakh kho … let see kitna milta hai tumko respects unse…..

    5. Keshav Jha

      Khan Illyas, you should feel very lucky that you are born in india. If u were a chinese or Russian, u must have been slaughtered before spitting such bullshit about the country. I really don’t understand what is the problem with you kashmiris, aren’t you aware of the public of pakistan,? are they happy in pakistan ? You should ask them only. And if u think, that muslims are not safe in india, then u are damn wrong. See any sector of employment , u will find many muslims and they are really very happy here “In INDIA”. And about that land of Kashmir , that is not a property of only you guys, that still belong to kashmiri pandits . I mean you guys really don’t realize the cruelty you have been doing ?? How can you even think of saying that india is cruel !!!! After hiding so many terrorists and after killing so many kashmiri pandits , you guys are still alive and still residents of kashmir,, this is the Greatest Proof that India is not at all cruel, instead it is very liberal towards you people. And still , if u don’t want to live in this country u free to move anywhere on this planet. Many people in India do so, they migrate to other countries but they don’t ask for lands. The land of Kashmir is not only your property , it belongs to kashmiri pandits too, and above all it belongs to our Constitution , our History and our Mother INDIA. Instead of spitting such venom try to educate yourself and try to collect the facts about your past mistakes. You will surely regret. And we’re Indians , u too are an Indian, we’re brothers, stop this dance of death in valley. Because the valley of kashmir is our dignity.

    6. Aug.15 1947

      Muslims are not happy in india, not happy in kashmir or kerala, not hapy in pakistan or syria, not happy in iraq or nigeria, they cannot live and share happiness with anyother religion or sekts, they ideological alligence is only to islam to koran, enslaved by saudis wahabis, and use violence and bloodshed as doctorine. And in all the 57 islamic nations carved out with mass murder and abuses they cry of victimization, and lives happy in free societies, and run in millions to west or free world insterad to any of the islamic nations! You can take up sticks or guns but will meet the same fate like all terrorists – Learn to love the nation you live, or Leave to the nation that you love to live -simple choice! If you use bombs and grendes dont expect security forces will fire roses!

    7. Ninad Shetty

      Kashmiri Pandits?

  7. Sumit kr

    You should have also asked him about the Kashmiri Pandits.If the Kashmiris are fighting against the atrocities on them unleashed by the Indian Army,why did they forced to exile their compatriots out of the valley ?

  8. Manoranjan Singh

    तुम लोग का ना कोई इमाम है ना धरम। जब तुम लोगो ने कश्मीरी पंडितों को मार के बेरहम होके भगाया उस समय से तुम लोग अपनी हमदर्दी खो चुके हो। तुम लोगो के साथ सैनिक और पुलिस बहुत संयम से पेश आ रही है नहीं तो तुम लोगो के डंडे कर के पाकिस्तान भेज देते और बाद में औकात पता चल जाता। काश्मीर भारत का है और आगे भी रहेगा और जो उस्से अलग करने की बात करेगा उनकी माँ बहन एक कर देंगे। वंदे मातरम

  9. yattin dev

    If u Kashmir Muslim’s think that India and Indian government cruel to you.. Then why u living in India. In Hindi there is a line…. “JIS THALI MAINE KHAATEE USSI MAIN CHEED KARTEE HO” If u think guns make u get what u want..Then u all are Big Fools.

  10. Maggie Myth Majali

    Justifying militancy hold no water.if says police and army are the reasons for this kind of militabcy why is it no happening in other states. Police are doing their duty to keep law and order.there must be rules for everything. Kashmiris muslims drove out pandits from their home stare. They massacres their families.why these muslims have live and let live policy?kashmir donot belong to arab muslims. The town has names like srinagar,anant nag.kashmir it self is derived from kashyaparishis name. I know alot of muslims they dont diiferentiate between themselves and hindus. Only festivals are diff.that is it..i pray to god to give better sense of judgement to these militants and become one with rest of population…i am sure the neigboring country not able to fight a war with india is instigating this.pl dont trybto convince us that police and army are bad and all of you are retaliating due to attrocities by them

  11. suraj verma

    It is sad to see so many photographs of young men sacrificing their lives for the Kashmiri cause. I hope Kashmiris can reconcile their differences with the Indian state and army and reach an amicable solution so as to have peace and prosperity in the valley. I know it is difficult, forced occupation of any land in any part of the world brings with it loads of brutality and illtreatment but the path of violence shall not bring any result.
    I hope all Indians would moan the death of Burhan as it is great loss of young man who could have otherwise done wonders in the world.

    1. Sabastian Ranjith Dhiviyan

      Mr. Suraj Verma 1st of all its not a forced occupation of a land or occupied Kashmir or disputed area, as Kashmir was never been a separate state in the past even before the state joined with India.
      The main cause of problem in the valley is because of Pakistan which wanted Kashmir to be part of Pakistan, so 3 wars were fought for Kashmir between two nations India and Pakistan. But unfortunately Pakistan failed to capture Kashmir from India and so the military and isi of Pakistan changed the strategy by new fighting method proxy war against India which started insurgency in the Kashmir valley and terrorism in India. The insurgents in the Kashmir asked non Muslims or Kashmiri pandits in Kashmir to vacate their native places or else they will execute their entire family in few days. All these are happened in 1990’s, the foreigners who came to Kashmir valley were executed too by insurgents.
      Sir, my personal opinion is, there are two ways to end the problem. One is through peaceful process or other way is by force. Though peaceful process they can succeed not today but one day they will succeed. 1st of all they the people of the state need to understand especially (hurriyat conference or separatists) that the problem is between govt of India and people of the state, so they need to talk to govt of India, not to govt of Pakistan which has nothing to do which Kashmir or the state. Unfortunately they won’t, which cannot be accepted by any Indian. Then the separatists asks their brotherhood Pakistan to stop militancy against India and also they should arrest and surrender all the wanted terrorists by India who are living in Pakistan, then Pakistan should declare independence to pok Pakistan occupied Kashmir, then a fare elections will be held in the state of n&m which includes jammu, Kashmir, pok, ladakh and leh under the UN supervision with other international diplomats includes Pakistan diplomat. Pakistan can back or support separatists or hurriyat conference in the state elections, if people of j&k elects separatists and separatists forms the govt in the state, they can ask the govt of India for independent j&k, at that time Pakistan who wants to help or fight for Kashmir independence can go to UN and international community to grain support for Kashmir independence. Which will increase pressurize on the issue and even at that time people of India will support for the Kashmir independence. At certain point of time govt of India will accept and declare j&k as independent state. This is the only peaceful solution for this. Because India and Indians paid huge cost for j&k.

  12. mohan3501

    He picked up a gun and had to die by it.Just another fool blinded by a foolish desert religion.

  13. Ninad Shetty

    This man reeks of extremism..and YKA is advocating the same

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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