Burhan Wani, Kashmir, India, Pakistan, HuM

The experts have been vying hard to evolve and settle not only on the definitional aspects of terrorism and freedom fighter but on the causes of both the terms as well. It is another matter however that, no singular definition has been settled unanimously till date. Terrorism for one may be the fight of liberation for another, and hence a terrorist may be a freedom fighter for another. Terrorists for Israelis are indubitably freedom fighters for Palestinians as they are fighting the war to liberate their soil from the Israel’s state apparatus. What can be construed as terrorism by an Indian is an activity to free themselves from the India’s subservience by the Kashmiris, as they are struggling relentlessly for their right of self-determination in the light of approved UN Charter almost 70 years ago.

India is using all possible gruesome means at its disposal to suppress and crush the legitimate demand of the natives. But what is more important here is the cause of unrest. India has always fabricated Kashmir struggle as its internal issue, and has never bothered in the resolution of root causes. The people of Kashmir have always been denied and deprived since the partition of British India. Till now there has never been a let up in the freedom struggle despite the grisliest atrocities unleashed by Indian occupying forces on innocent Kashmiris. There have been occasions when the flames died, but the flash kept smoldering under the ashes only to rise again, like in the 90s. This flame has relighted, once again, with the death of Burhan Wani in July 2016.

Since his childhood, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, a brilliant student who at the tender age of 15, witnessing the horror and atrocities of Indian republic, fled his family, to take up arms and joined Hizb ul Mujahideen. The decision of such grave nature was the outcome of the murder of his elder sibling, Khalid Wani, by the Indian Army. The incident had lasting and irrevocable prints on the young mind which had already witnessed heinous and odious acts of Indian forces. It only turned a petite flame into an inferno inside Burhan Wani which was soon to engulf the entire Kashmiri youth.

Burhan Wani fled into the woods to join Hizb ul Mujahideen and took up arms against the Indian state. Blessed with a brilliant and thinking mind, he opted to become the voice of freedom fighters through social media, using it to reach out to entire Kashmir and beyond. He is credited to be the first Kashmiri insurgent who was not afraid to reveal his identity. His charisma prompted the locals to start following his exploits on the social media. With time, he rose to be the leader of Hizb. His carefully orchestrated videos and motivating clips on YouTube gave him recognition as a freedom icon.

Wani remained a pain in the neck of Indian security forces for quite some time. Hundreds of fresh recruits joining the files of Hizb ul Mujahideen can be attributed to the efforts of Wani. The grandeur of a 22-year-old freedom fighter forced the state authorities to fix 10 million rupees as his head money. Eventually on 8th July 2016, he was killed in a shootout along with three of his comrades. Not only were the officials in New Delhi much relieved, but also segments of the Indian media and the military.

While the Indian authorities were rejoicing, millions of Kashmiris were mourning Burhan’s death. His funeral congregation attracted over 120,000 people of all age and gender. This sent ripples of confusion in New Delhi where officials became more muddled. Instead of pacifying the issue, the Indian authorities unleashed even more brutalities on Kashmiris by subjecting the entire valley to an incessant curfew for over four months; shutting all communications, and cutting all links from the outside world. They fired indiscriminately on empty handed protesters, using pellet guns, blinding hundreds for the rest of their lives.

These ghastly acts of inhuman treatment have not let up the freedom struggle; instead it has added fuel to it. Even the killing of Burhan Wani’s successor Sabzar Bhat has not affected the surge in protest and now even the young girls of schools are also out on the street to protest and chant slogans for freedom.

Now a year after the death of Burhan Wani, India is suspecting and fearing mass protests and rallies, making ever more elaborate arrangements to silence the dissenters. It is the opportune time to raise our voice too – at national and international forums – to support the Kashmir cause.  The Kashmiris deserve the right of self-determination as they have suffered the physical and psychological trauma since 1947, and sacrificed thousands of precious lives. Burhan Wani’s martyrdom should not go to waste.

Imran Haider Jaffri

is a graduate of Peshawar University. He has completed his M.Phil. from the National Defence University. His area of expertise is Defence and Security of Pakistan. As a Visiting Lecturer, he has also delivered, and still continues to deliver lectures at many professional and training institutions.

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