ON July 08, 2017 Burhan Wani’s first death anniversary was observed throughout Kashmir as a symbol of youth gallantry and protest against Indian oppression. Over the year Burhan Wani name has become a symbol of Kashmiri zest and struggle for freedom. Wani passed away but left a strong missive to its adversaries and a vigil for Kashmiri youth to follow path for freedom. His ruthless killing by Indian forces shook the Kashmir valley and the people particularly Kashmiri youth started for a new revolution. This Kashmir uprising after the death of Burhan Wani is termed as new intifada in Kashmir. The Arabic word intifada translates literally as ‘shake’, ‘shaking’ or ‘shake off’. In context of Arab-Israel conflict this term was used for Palestinian efforts to shake off Israeli control and gain independence. For Kashmir it is again a new movement and struggle by Kashmiri youth for self-determination after Wani’s martyrdom.
Indian forces never knew that after killing a young leader they are inviting a countless trouble for themselves. Though after Wani’s martyr IOK was turned into gorge through prolong curfew for months, electricity and communications cut-off, closing of all kinds of businesses and schools yet they are still unable to deter Kashmiri youth who are following the legacy which Burhan Wani left behind. The martyr of Wani, who was the face of the freedom struggle to a new generation, completely changed the dynamics of the uprising of 2016. Pro Pakistan and anti-India jingles are on lips of every Kashmiri while chanting slogans of Azadi or freedom for Kashmir. 22-year-old Burhan Wani’s extrajudicial killing flared up public mutinies as the enigmatic young commander of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, which along with other freedom fighter groups has seen an astounding upsurge in popularity among Kashmiris in recent years.
Kashmir a piece of land claimed by India as part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir has a long history of pro-independence movements that India claims are provoked by Pakistani militants. In 1948, UN stressed for a plebiscite or referendum allowing Kashmiris to determine their fortune, but it has never been held. Though thousands of Indian troops are deployed in Kashmir yet there are largely non-violent protests for azadi. This Kashmir uprising started in 2016 and entered into 2017 with more passion for freedom as those areas of Kashmir which have often remained dormant are becoming more proactive in street protests.
Unfortunately this uprising was dealt with pellet guns by Indian forces against that youth which was carrying stones for its self-defence. The response from the Indian armed forces has been called the world’s first mass blinding, getting widespread disparagement not only across globe but within India too. Indian troops after Wani’s death just in few months have killed hundreds of Kashmiris mostly youth and injured more than 17,000 people mostly children and young girls. Many of them have turned partially or completely blind by use of metal pellets which are shot at defenceless demonstrators or even school children, hitherto the scream is for freedom!
Indian authorities with the use of black laws are trying to crush Kashmiri freedom spirit. Under the PSA, persons can be detained for up to two years without any accusation and for past three decades this law has number of unrevealed Kashmiris to its list. With the introduction of AFSPA condition worsened as more than 200,000 Kashmiris have been killed and 7,000 were found in mass graves. Recently, news is coming up that Indian forces have started to use chemical weapons after killing young children and men and to keep them unidentified they char the bodies.
According to Amnesty International, more than 10,000 people are missing, around 22,826 Kashmiri women have been widowed, 10,717 Kashmiri women have been gang raped and about 107,591 children have been orphaned. Besides, there are an estimated 1500 half-widow wives whose husbands have disappeared but not yet declared as dead. The Indian forces have blinded hundreds of Kashmiris, including children, and injured over 16,000 protesters with live ammunition, pellet guns and gas shells. That is why the New York Times labelled the year 2016 as a “Year of dead eyes” in Kashmir.
Resistance Hero Burhan Wani funeral was attended by many and now it has become customary that thousands gather for funeral of any youth far across from Kashmir. From Wani to Sabzar Bhat funeral Kashmiris make sure to raise their voice against Indian ruthlessness in Kashmir. India which labels this youth freedom fighting struggle as sponsored terrorism in Kashmir must not forget that terrorists don’t receive honours. Local Kashmiris after Wani’s martyrdom pay accolade to him in great words and say that his political thoughtfulness was similar to what every young Kashmiri thinks. Wani became popular as during traveling he stayed with people in their houses, had food together and shared tales for struggle and freedom. He was in everybody’s phone and everyone knew him by face.
India is getting frustrated with new uprising in Kashmir as its every attempt to crush freedom movement is entangling India more and with Modi’s inhumane policies in practice, Kashmir cause can be bottled-up but not crumpled. Pakistan on every forum has urged for dialogue and peaceful solution to Kashmir issue in accordance with the UN Security Council’s relevant Resolutions on Kashmir. India must remember that passion begets strength and Kashmir will keep on giving birth to more Bhats and Burhans.
— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.