The Kashmir conflict escalated into bloodbath with the killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani, a separatist militant by Indian security forces. Following his death, violent street protests erupted across the Kashmir valley on Saturday. “Eleven protesters were killed and over 120 persons, including 96 security personnel were injured,” the Hindu reported.
Considered as the “poster boy of Kashmir’s new militancy” he reportedly enticed many youths to join the ranks of the local militants with his charismatic appeals on social media.
During Burhan Wani’s funeral in Tral, violent mobs attacked police and paramilitary establishments at various places in the valley and set ablaze several buildings including three police stations.
Despite government-imposed restrictions on public movement in Kashmir valley, a massive crowd congregated at Tral for Burhan Wani’s funeral on Saturday. The police killed Wani in an intelligence-led operation along with two other separatists on Friday afternoon. According to police intelligence, Wani was planning a terror strike within the Indian territory.
“Thousands gathered for memorial prayers across Kashmir. Protesters clashed with security forces who shot 17 civilians dead. The reaction has been on expected lines. Kashmir is in deep distress,” the Hindustan Times reported. Following Burhan Wani’s funeral and protests, the administration blocked mobile phone and Internet access across Kashmir.
Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti expressed grief at the civilian deaths and said that disproportionate use of force for crowd control results in loss of precious lives. According to The Hindu, “She asked the police and the paramilitary forces to use Standard Operational Procedure (SOP), while dealing with protesters to avoid loss of precious human lives or injuries, and sought people’s cooperation in restoration of normality.”
The Kashmir dispute has its genesis during India and Pakistan partition in 1947. Because of its geographic importance, Kashmir became a disputed territory and, India and Pakistan fought two wars over its ownership. The Indian state has a massive military presence owing to the feelings of separation among youths in Kashmir.
Meanwhile, the government has promised to investigate whether there was any disproportionate use of force by security forces that resulted in civilian deaths.
Burhan Wani was influential in recruiting several young and educated boys in South Kashmir and turning them into separatists in recent months. According to Indian media outlet NDTV, “Wani featured in videos and photos posing with weapons and mocked Indian security forces, which were shared on Facebook and WhatsApp to recruit Kashmir youths.”
Reportedly, Burhan Wani was an expert in using social media and delivered strong speeches. He joined the separatist organization, the Hizbul Mujahideen at the age of 15 after Indian security forces allegedly assaulted his brother in 2010.
While, Wani was not involved in direct attacks in Jammu Kashmir, the justification rendered by the Indian security forces said he had become a serious security threat as he assembled a large following among radicalized youths within Kashmir.
Burhan Wani’s glamorized presence in social media epitomized the face of new militancy in the Kashmir dispute, representing the profile of young boys taking up arms against the state. Following his death, seemingly entire Kashmir valley is on the edge of violence. News of death, injuries, and arson are pouring in, according to reports.
With violence escalating in Kashmir valley, people expressed differing opinions on the Kashmir conflict and Burhan Wani’s killing by security forces. Check out some of the tweets.
Reports predict a renewal of militancy in Kashmir following Burhan Wani’s killing, which was seemingly in decline for sometime. His killing by security forces comes as the biggest test for the new chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti to contain the renewed violence.
Reportedly, Jammu Kashmir conflict would need more than police presence to stop Burhan Wani’s death as a trigger to future conflicts and deaths in the valley.
[Photo by Dar Yasin/AP Images]