NOTHING surprising nothing unpredicted; all was expected, all was anticipated; the internet services were jammed, curfew was imposed and thousands of troops were deployed on the first death-anniversary of Burhan Wani, the most popular leader of the Kashmir independence movement in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. According to media reports police stations across south Kashmir were full of motorbikes seized to stop activists moving between villages. Most of the separatist leaders had been either confined to their homes or jailed ahead of the anniversary, about 2,000 troops were deployed in the southern Kashmir area. This all was done just to stop people from observing the death anniversary of Burhan Wani but no tool worked in the hands of the Indian authorities.
According to the Hindustan Times, ‘Thousands of police personnel and security forces dotted the roads and villages of the Valley to prevent people from assembling on Wani’s death anniversary. Security forces also blocked roads and laid concertina wires to prevent movement of traffic and people but despite the restrictions, people visited the house of Burhan Wani at Tral. Restrictions infuriated people and they started pelting stones on the security troops. Police had to throw tear-gas shells on the protesters.
Burhan Wani was neither a terrorist, nor a militant; he was just a reaction to the atrocities of Indian army deputed there in the Indian Occupied Kashmir. It was a brutal incident which made Burhan Wani a leader of revolution. It was somewhere in 2000, when one day Burhan, a young boy of six or seven years, went out with his brother Khalid to take a ride of their newly bought bike in Tral, in Pulwama district accompanied by a friend. They were intercepted on their way by a group of Indian Army personnel who ordered the teenagers to buy them cigarettes if they wanted to use that road for biking. It was a routine practice of the Indian Army personnel that they used to sell themselves for a few cigarettes every day so many times. When Khalid Wani came back after buying cigarettes, the officers started beating them up so brutally that Khalid fell unconscious; they damaged his new bike.
However these three succeeded in running away from there. But while fleeing, Burhan, threatened the Army officers that he is going to ‘avenge’ what they did to his brother. Six months later, Wani fled his home and started planning for the ‘revenge’ he had promised. He was an educated young man, having no training, no weapons and no sources. He had only one option; the social media. Soon he became a Face Book warrior. He started awakening the Kashmiri youth with his patriotic posts on the Facebook and within no time he succeeded in making an ‘ army’ of Facebook warriors. They all knew well how to make effective use of social media to propagate themselves. Burhan Wani was no doubt their teacher and their commander.
In the beginning Burhan used to pose with ten Facebook warriors but soon the number increased to hundreds. Indian security forces were frightened of this innocent army of Facebook warriors and took them as a challenge to their existence in Kashmir. A bounty of ten lakh was announced for the person helpful in his arrest dead or alive. Huff Post sarcastically commented on the bounty announced on Burhan Wani, ‘Bounty of Rs 10 lakh on a boy who picked up arms when he was merely 15-years-old.’
Before the death of Burhan Wani on 08 July 2016, his brother Khalid Wani was killed by the Indian security forces in April 2015. According to the media reports Khalid had gone to the forests in search of his brother Burhan with whom he had no contact since long. He had been in contact with him just through the videos he used to upload on social media. Security forces were stealthily following him in a hope of getting some clue to Burhan Wani but they couldn’t succeed. In their rage of insult, failure, depression and disappointment the Indian security forces shot him down then and there.
Death of Khalid Wani was a grievous shock for the young Burhan but he knew well that the way to liberty and independence is never very smooth; it is always like sailing in the troubled waters. The Indian security forces were well aware of the fact that death of Khalid Wani would make Burhan a volcano ready to explode. So they started a joint operation and at last shamefully succeeded in killing him in south Kashmir’s Bumdoora village in Kokernag area on 8th July 2016. Burhan Wani gave a new life to the Kashmir Independence Movement with his sacred blood. He is not only a hero; he is an icon of struggle, courage, bravery and determination. Some day in near future his beautiful monument would add to the charm of the Kashmir Valley same as the Statue of Liberty is adding to the glamour of New York city.
—The writer is freelance columnist based in Multan.