By Sagar Kaul:
When a boy becomes a Mujahid in the Valley his parents know that from that point onwards the only time they will see his face for a long time will be when his body arrives in a coffin. To celebrate such a victory is just like announcing that, yes, we still haven’t learned anything but man this hunt was good. If the policy is to kill anyone who picks up a gun then this is a never ending hunt which will keep on going for generations. At times the number might be big and at times too small but, rest assured, there would be a Mujahid holding a gun somewhere in the Valley, always.
Today, it’s not the 90s when the only media that was available was the state and national media. This is the generation of social media and in Kashmir, the war of social media has already tipped over to the other side. Burhan Muzaffar Wani, 21-year-old Commander of Hizbul Mujahideen who was killed, along with his two other associates in South Kashmir on July 8, 2016, was already way ahead in this war. What he did for this insurgency took everyone by surprise, the reaction time was spent on just trying to eliminate him rather than also trying to understand the reason why he became the Burhan that needed to be killed. He’s a martyr for his people now and no amount of media bashing can change that.
His killing definitely will not go without being marked in history. He has died in a time when for anything to go viral you need people to talk about it, post about it, like it, share it, the possibilities are endless and this is available in large numbers in Kashmir, a young generation with a social media presence. Just by shutting the internet, all that can be done is to delay it by some time. But once it’s restored, which it always is, the reaction will be visible on social media and this sort of content generates a metric on the site that can’t be taken down so easily. To cut it short, this can’t be censored.
This has all the makings of the Arab Spring moment for Kashmir if the chest thumping is not stopped right away and the focus isn’t put on doing what needs to be done, and that is to talk. Talk to everyone, listen, be patient. There has always been anger. Nothing has changed. People are still angry and a killing can’t take that away and this is where the policy lacks seriousness and the vision fails. It fails because there still is no understanding of the people involved and of the community it creates. Talk to anyone who can help break the deadlock of deaths and high-headedness in the Valley.
If a father tells a reporter without showing any emotion that he knows his son’s life will end soon, that does not mean that he’s a heartless man. It shows the acceptance of the path that his son has taken and knowing where that path leads. The reason for Burhan to join the ranks of militants at such a young age was the humiliating beating of him and his brother by security personnel that left his brother unconscious. He was 15 at the time. Why did they beat both of them? Were these brothers involved in something? Did they do anything wrong? My guess would be, they were beaten because that’s how fear is kept alive in the enemy and also because no one will hold them accountable for such a thing. Finally, the brother was also killed last year. It’s a very simple equation. You exert pressure on anything and there will come a breaking point. And in Kashmir, the pressure has been exerted for a very long time now.
Every slap, every word of abuse, every hit of the bamboo stick and every strike of the gun butt has made one more person angry and hateful. I have been through that and it does leave you changed forever. The bitterness and the anger remain because you could not hit back. Humiliating a father in front of his son, or letching at a mother while she brings the kids back from school; no one is winning hearts and minds like that. By doing this, thousands of hands are being crafted out of which some will pick stones, some will write and some will pick the gun and the only thing common will be the hate.
Featured image credit: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images.
This article was originally published here on Medium.