Saturday, July 9th, 2016

Kashmir latest: History of unlearning lessons

NK Bhoopesh | July 9, 2016 3:23 pm Print
Killing of Burhan Wani may be a shot in the arm for the security forces, but how is it going to change Kashmir
More than 20,000 people on Saturday attended the burial of top Hizbul commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani in south Kashmir's Tral town.


On Friday, the Supreme Court had said that each death caused by the armed forces in disturbed areas should be thoroughly enquired into, whether the victim is a dreaded criminal, militant or terrorist. The court issued order on  plea by hundreds of families in the Northeastern state of Manipur for a probe by Special Investigation Team into 1528 cases of alleged fake encounters. “It does not matter whether the victim was a common person or a militant or a terrorist, nor does it matter whether the aggressor was a common person or the the State. The law is applicable to both. This is the requirement of a democracy and the requirement of preservation of the rule of law and the preservation of the  rule of law and the preservation of individual liberties”

Perhaps even when the Supreme Court was delivering this judgement, the security forces in Kashmir might have drawn another plan. The plan, the right activists accuse they are best at doing. Killing militants in encounters rather than trying to nab them and to bring them before law. And the security forces succeeded in eliminating the 22-year-old Burhan Wani, Hizbul Mujahideens’ divisional commander for South Kashmir. Burhan Wani, almost all media reports say was legendary figure among Kashmiris. Many of the reports suggest that Burhan as the poster boy of new age militancy in which educated young local men took up arms. This reports from Kashmir say it is the first time after 1990s that the locals are joining militant groups in large numbers.

Burhan is compared with Ashfaq Wani, another extremist leader who was killed in 1990 encounter. Rigged elections, militarisation, failure of the Indian State to keep the promises might have pushed Ashfaq, an MBBS apirant, to turn to extremism. Thousands gathered during his funeral and it was reported that the ‘Azadi Kashmir’ slogan was raised. And the alienation of Kashmiris got accentuated by this killing.


Now reports from Kashmir suggest that thousands have gathered in Tral in Kashmir to attend the funeral procession of Burhan. Every killing in Kashmir under the grab of national security alienates the people more and more.
Alienation of Kashmir and obstinate approach by the Indian State in addressing the issue historically and politically have, as some reports say brought in political Islam into a struggle for self-determination.

In 1984, it was Maqbool Bhat who was hanged by the Indian government. His body was buried in Tihar Jail. What this has done to India’s Kashmir policy? Several right groups argued that the manner in which Maqbool Bhat was hanged amount to illegal execution. His dead body was not handed over to his family. Human rights groups say this as the second such case after Bhagat Singh and his fellow comrades whose bodies are said to be cremated after execution in the same manner by the British imperialists.

But Indian State never felt like treating Kashmir issue as  a political issue which should be addressed politically and historically. The historical blunders continued unabated by the Indian governments irrespective of which political party was in power.

Afzal Guru, who was hanged to satisfy the ‘collective conscience of the people’ was also  buried in similar fashion as that of Maqbool Bhat.

All this was like adding insult to the already injured Kashmir psyche.

Now at a time when there are reports that the home-grown militancy is on the rise, Indian State had killed another militant, who was hugely popular despite being very young.

This might be treated as a shot in the arm for the security forces. But as history reminds us no political issues have ever been solved militarily. As far as Kashmir is concerned India’s engagement with that state has been a classic example of unlearning from history.