By Abhishek Jha:
Burhan Wani of Shareefabad, Tral in Pulwama district of South Kashmir, often described as the ‘poster boy’ of the new phase of militancy in Kashmir, was shot dead along with two other militants on July 8 in Bumdoora village of Anantnag district in a joint operation of the Special Operation Group of J&K Police and 19 Rashtriya Rifles. The 22-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander’s photos- with arms and in combat fatigue- regularly circulated on social media.
Although protests and processions after the death of a militant are not uncommon in Kashmir, security agencies themselves are said to have warned the Centre that there is a growing alienation in the state in recent times. According to an Indian Express report, this was told to the MHA in a presentation recently. The report quotes from the presentation that there has been a “47 per cent increase in militancy-related incidents, 51 per cent increase in stone-pelting incidents, 65 per cent spurt in infiltration and an increase in fresh recruitments” in the first six months of 2016.
Wani, however, joined HM as early as 2010, when he was just 15 years of age, following an altercation with the security forces where his brother was beaten up unconscious. As YKA reported early this year, Burhan’s alienation is shared by a lot of young people in Kashmir, who view him as a Robind Hood of sorts who fought against the brutalities and overwhelming presence of the security forces in the valley.
Burhan’s father, Muzaffar Ahmed Wani, who is the principal of the Higher Secondary School of Tral, also had told YKA then that Burhan was forced to pick up the gun. He wished his son to come back “but with respect. Not shackled or chained”.
In what could be further testimony to the growing alienation in Kashmir- particularly with ongoing talks of Sainik and Pandit colonies, which some fear may be an attempt to change the demographics of the state- people have came out in huge numbers in the valley to protest Burhan’s killing, according to reports. His funeral procession too drew a huge crowd. 8 civilians are reported to have been killed in the protests across the valley at the time of writing this report and many more are said to be injured.
Photos from Burhan Wani’s funeral procession at Shareef village in Tral. All photos by Rising Kashmir.