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Syed Ali Zia Jaffery |

The mystically beautiful Kashmir valley has been a cause of one of the history’s  fiercest rivalries. The ‘shameful’ and the hasty flight of the British from the subcontinent under the watch of Lord Mountbatten left the erstwhile Princely State of Kashmir as a flashpoint between India and Pakistan. Nehru’s obsession with Kashmir coupled with Pakistan’s resolve to stand firm led to a stalemate in Kashmir, which despite wars, battles and UNSC interventions remains unresolved seven decades down the line.

The brunt of the follies and haughtiness on part of both recalcitrant countries and nuances of world politics has been borne by the gritty and innocent people of the valley. The brave inhabitants of Kashmir have suffered at the hands of Indian oppression; Pakistan’s oscillation; Kashmiri politicians and the strands of armed groups. Yet, they have not succumbed and have constantly resisted integration into the Indian Union. They may not understand the geopolitics behind the Kashmir saga but they do fathom what freedom is.

Wani was also beaten up along with his friends in 2010.He made India pay heavily for that episode for a good part of six years till he was martyred one year to this date. 

In walked an icon

The armed resistance to Indian rule has entered its third decade.Amid heavy deployment of the Northern Command in the valley, armed struggle has not ended.However, due to a host of factors, it did not pose much of a challenge to India’s grip on the eastern side of the Line of Control. But little did the world anticipate that a 16-year old boy from Tral named Burhan Wani would resuscitate a somewhat dormant Kashmir cause.

Read more:Deep inside Kashmir militancy: how damaging can the cracks be for…

The humiliation of defenseless Kashmiris is a common sight in the valley.Officers and other ranks of the Indian Army have continued to use brute force against the people. Wani was also beaten up along with his friends in 2010.He made India pay heavily for that episode for a good part of six years till he was martyred one year to this date.

Pictures of his excursions in the forests made him an instant hit among the youth.By effectively using social media, he garnered massive support for himself and the Kashmir cause.

He was open; he was in uniform and brave; challenged the Indian forces day-in-day-out.He breached army cordons and gave the military high command sleepless nights. It was not his fighting prowess that made him such a threat to the Indian state but his ability to galvanize the masses made him a pariah charismatic bloke for a preponderant India.

Read more:Pakistan finally learns what it must do to help Kashmiris

Pictures of his excursions in the forests made him an instant hit among the youth.By effectively using social media, he garnered massive support for himself and the Kashmir cause. If anything, the slogans of Azaadi have become the loudest; this is owed to Wani.

He was finally martyred by the Indian forces on 8th July 2016.His death sparked off a movement that has become the biggest challenge for Indian authorities. His funerals were attended by one and all draped in Pakistani flags with tears and emotions galore.While the curfew saw killings, use of pellets, social media blockades and making human shields out of people, it changed the complexion of Kashmir’s quest for freedom.

Much to the ire of India, the celebrations on Pakistan’s victory over India in the Champions Trophy were euphoric than those which took place in Pakistan.

Kashmiris from all segments of society have taken on Indian forces. Children, girls,old-aged people do not hesitate to pelt stones and impede the activities of the Indian state.Wani’s grave has become a sacrilegious place for the people. They venerate the soil on his grave and consider it a symbol of strength.

Read more:Kashmir on fire: Has Pakistan really helped the cause?

The courage derived from Wani is manifested by armed fighters and the general population. Fighters have attacked Indian military installations with impunity. The attack in Uri is a classic example.Zestful Kashmiris on the hand defy India by all means.The lowest turnout in the elections was one of them. Much to the ire of India, the celebrations on Pakistan’s victory over India in the Champions Trophy were euphoric than those which took place in Pakistan.

India has responded with force and has raked up confrontations with Pakistan, be it in the shape of so-called surgical strikes or skirmishes on the LoC. However, some big wigs in India have called the situation ominous.“Yes, the situation is turning worse. Is it worse than in 1990? My answer is yes and no. It is worse in terms of atmospherics. Because of alienation and the anger of youth, young Kashmiri minds have gone out of control,” said former R&AW chief A S Daulat. He backed up his opinion by alluding to the fearlessness of the people to confront the Indian forces with utter disregard to their safety. He said that when girls and children pelt stones boisterously at soldiers with no care of repercussions then that situation is anything but normal. He along with Farooq Abdullah has called upon India to talk to Pakistan.

Read more:Is Kashmir slipping away from India?

The Kashmiris do not give a hoot; they are set to trouble the Indian authorities in the days to come.The Azaadi movement is in full swing. The cult of Wani lives on.

Syed Ali Zia Jaffery is a Research Analyst and Sub Editor at Global Village Space.He frequently writes on defense and strategic affairs. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

Syed Ali Zia Jaffery is a Research Analyst and Sub-Editor at Global Village Space (GVS). He frequently writes on defense and strategic affairs of South Asia.

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