Sultan M Hali
THE first death anniversary of Burhan Wani, Commander of Hizb ul Mujahideen is approaching on July 08, 2017. He was brutally martyred last year during a joint operation by security forces in south Kashmir’s Bumdoora village in Kokernag area; since then the Valley of Kashmir has erupted in protest rallies. The protesters, armed only with stones, which they pelt on the Indian forces. The Occupying force the Indian army retaliated by using pellet guns, which have killed more than 200 youth and blinded about 3,500, while nearly 20,000 have been injured. Curfew remained imposed for more than four months. Around 12,000 people were arrested or detained.
There has been no letup in the Indian brutality. Pakistan’s Prime Minister was constrained to mention the martyrdom of Burhan Wani and the ensuing reign of terror unleashed by the Indian army in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Indian riposte has been to incessantly violate the ceasefire at the Line of Control (LOC) and orchestrate false flag terror operations in its own military installations but blame Pakistan to divert the attention of the world from Indian brutalities.
This April, a young Kashmiri, Farooq Ahmad Dar, who had come to cast his vote in local polls was apprehended by Indian Army’s Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi, seated and tied on an army jeep as a human shield and paraded in the streets of Srinagar. Instead of charge sheeting Major Gogoi for his atrocity, Major Gogoi was awarded by the Indian Army Chief much to the chagrin of human rights activists.
Since Burhan Wani was an iconic figure of the freedom movement, it is expected that his anniversary would be observed on a large scale in IOK. Wide-spread protests are expected to be held. The Indian occupation forces, as usual, are likely to use brute force including live ammunition and pellet guns against the protestors, which may result in even more casualties. This year the first death anniversary of Burhan Wani falls in the midst of the Amarnath Yatra season, the Hindu pilgrimage may become further tense every year. Yatra, this year, has been cut short by 8 days. The 40-day yatra will commence from June 29 and will be held in highly charged environment — a month after Hizbul leader Sabzar Bhat’s death and about a week before Burhan Wani’s death anniversary.
Last year, after Wani’s killing, the yatra was severely disrupted and many yatris found themselves caught in the turbulence. Pilgrims had to be evacuated from Srinagar at night, with convoys of paramilitary forces escorting them all the way to Jammu. IOK’s history is a perpetual effort in the degradation of the soul – three unceasing decades of massacres, mass rapes, custodial killings, fake encounters, torture and enforced disappearances.
The tragedy of IOK is an unfinished agenda of the partition of India. When the British were departing from the Indian Sub-Continent, according to the 1947 Act of Indian Independence, the princely states were to be given the choice of accession to either India or Pakistan. Where the local population and the ruler were of different faith, it was the people, who were to exercise their right of self determination. Since the majority population of Kashmir was Muslims but its ruler was a Hindu, the people were empowered to decide their own future. Unfortunately, Indian forces invaded Kashmir and occupied it forcefully.
A handful of Pakistani army personnel and volunteers rushed to Kashmir and tried to liberate the Valley from the clutches of the Indian armed forces. India’s Prime Minister Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, fearing the liberation of the whole of IOK, approached the United Nations for an immediate ceasefire. The UN enforced a ceasefire but passed Resolutions that the inhabitants of Kashmir will opt for accession to India or Pakistan through a plebiscite. Pundit Nehru accepted the UN Resolutions but later reneged on it. Pakistan and India went to war in 1965 and 1971 but the fate of the Kashmiris did not change. Disappointed by subsequent Indian rulers and different world bodies, in 1989 the inhabitants of IOK decided to take their fate in their own hands and took up arms to fight for their freedom. India tried to suppress the uprising by deploying more than 700,000 personnel in the Valley through brute force.
The Indian army wreaked havoc, killing, raping, pillaging and incarcerating Kashmiris. Backed by draconian laws like TADA, POTA and AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act), the Indian occupying forces took retaliatory action against the Kashmiris with impunity. Since 1989, more than 100,000 Kashmiris have been martyred. Their only fault was raising the flag of independence.
Since 2014, the advent of Narendra Modi’s government has seen an upsurge in violence against the Kashmiris. Modi had a specific agenda for the Kashmiris. He tried to rig local elections so that his political party BJP could rule IOK and have the constitution amended, which gives special powers to Kashmir. He also tried to change the demography of IOK by settling Hindus there so that Muslim majority could be offset.
Burhan Wani was a progressive youth leader. He was cruelly targeted and eliminated. Modi was not prepared for the large scale protests, which continue unabated. He is trying to blame Pakistan for the uprising and is using various tactics to deride Pakistan. Let us observe the first death anniversary of Burhan Wani in Pakistan too and solemnly promise to continue providing moral support to the hapless Kashmiris of IOK.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.