Kashmir erupts with Wani’s death

Published: July 11, 2016 - 18:18

Hardnews Bureau Delhi

There are fears that the tinderbox we call Kashmir has caught fire again with the encounter of 22 year old Burhad Wani. Wani was a wanted terrorist. A Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Wani had recruited scores of young men into the ranks of the organisation and was known to circulate propaganda videos on social media. The state authorities had taken recourse to the usual measures, shutting down mobile internet services in the Valley by late Friday evening, cutting off cell phone networks in South Kashmir, and imposing curfew in many parts of the Valley overnight. State and Central forces were deployed just hours after the news of Wani’s death spread, and after groups of young men started pelting stones.

Following Wani’s death, the valley has come to a standstill. The sequences of events which have unfolded have raised fears that a repeat of 2010 might happen again. A policeman drowned after his car was pushed into the river by a stone pelting mob. Three policemen are still missing. Ten people have died in the protests so far. The situation has also led to the calling off the annual pilgrimage to the popular Amarnath shrine. This has meant that 15,000 odd pilgrims who were en route to the shrine have been left stranded in neighbouring Jammu. Human rights groups have described the situation as a state of emergency. According to them if the situation is not brought under control soon, many more maybe killed in the senseless violence which has ensued post Wani’s demise.

Most of the protests have happened in the districts of Pulwama, Anantnag, Shopian and Kulgam. These districts in South Kashmir have been witness to a large number of youth becoming radicalised and joining militant outfits. Burhan’s death could encourage more youth from the region to become militants. A similar thing happened in the 1990s when Ashfaq Majeed Wani, a militant with the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front was killed. As former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah pointed out, “Burhan’s ability to recruit in to militancy from the grave will far outstrip anything he could have done on social media."

The Kashmiri youth needs icons like Shah Faisal and Athar Aamir and not a terrorist like Burhan Wani who glamourised the cult of gun. Those who are creating mayhem on the streets do not represent the general public. They are trouble makers and our security forces are well-equipped to tackle such elements. Tyranny of a few can't hold the entire state and the country to ransom. Kashmir has been a flashpoint for several years and it’s important that peace and stability return to the region soon.