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India continues to be threatened by the legacy of Burhan Wani


News Desk |

Indian authorities face serious challenges even after imposing a lockdown in Kashmir Valley on Sunday, 8th July, 2018.

He was an active freedom fighter, commander of armed groups of the Hizbul Mujahideen, who was shot by Indian troops in July 2016.

As a case of fresh unrest unravels, protests inspired by separatists’ marked the death anniversary of the popular, freedom fighter, Burhan Wani, a hero lost at Kashmir.

Pressure had been building ahead of the anniversary with three civilians killed, suffered at the hands of clashes between protestors and Indian troops. Stuck in a crossfire, these civilians including a teenage girl, became the casualties in Kulgam as people blocked the way of army vehicles leading to clashes breaking out, on Saturday, 7th July, 2018.

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Followed up by mobile internet services shutting down across Indian-administered Kashmir, roads into the restive valley were blocked and restrictions on movement were imposed in Srinagar.

Authorities have clamped a total curfew in Tral, as separatist leaders urged the shopkeepers to keep their businesses closed in protest to mark Burhan Wani’s death.

Growing into a legend, Burhan Wani was known as the “Himalayan robin hood, of the Indian Held Kashmir (IHK)”. He was an active freedom fighter, commander of armed groups of the Hizbul Mujahideen, who was shot by Indian troops in July 2016.

As described by his community members, Burhan Wani was a polite teenager, who left home to become a freedom fighter to promote peace and voice the opinions of various Kashmiri’s struggling against the Indian army.

The charismatic young leader’s death in 2016 sparked months of violent street protests that left nearly 100 dead and countless more blinded by pellet fire following an Indian crackdown. Indian forces were reportedly intimidated by his presence as an influential “poster boy” of the Kashmiri plight, who might have influenced hundreds of other young men to join the cause of resistance against the Kashmir brutality.

His killing led to the public becoming furious as they set off in protests against the yet to be held accountable.

His protests made the armed campaign against India mainstream and rejuvenated the movement which had withered in recent years.

This provided a threat, as new life was given to an armed group movement in IHK that had withered in recent years, abridged to a couple hundred fighters continuing with their struggle to be heard.

In the previous year following Burhan Wani’s death, curfews, strikes, intermittent communication blackouts had effectively obstructed several regions leaving behind collateral damages in the form of dead bodies at the hands of the Indian troops.

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What lacked in the previous protests was a face to go with the voice, which as of now belonged to Burhan Wani, as students carried Wani’s photographs and displayed placards while chanting slogans like “Farewell our martyr” and “Go India, go back”.

With prevailing security restrictions, approximately 200 students on the campus of University of Kashmir gathered round to organize a protest, seeking an end to the Indian rule over the disputed region.

In honor of Burhan Wani’s memory, Kashmiri leaders called for a general strike, followed up by a protest march to Burhan Wani’s hometown, in 2017.

His martyrdom triggered open defiance against Indian rule, leading to months of massive protests and clashes in the Himalayan region.

In the last year during protests, at least 90 people, mostly young men and students, were killed. Casualties were recognized in thousands as hundreds of them were blinded by shotgun pellets fired by Indian troops.

Countering these uprisings, police and paramilitary soldiers carrying automatic rifles laid down steel barricades and coiled razor wires on the roads and intersections to divide the neighborhoods in an attempt to put an end to the protests.

Since Burhan Wani’s tool was that of the use of social media as a means to voice his opinions, this platform was also suspended followed by internet on mobile phones and cell phone networks.

Indian forces were reportedly intimidated by his presence as an influential “poster boy” of the Kashmiri plight, who might have influenced hundreds of other young men to join the cause of resistance against the Kashmir brutality.

This made the common practice to make organizing protests more difficult.

Read more: The sacrifice of Burhan Wani- One year on

Before his martyrdom, Wani had breathe new life in the Hizbul Mujahideen as he attracted dozens of new recruits using Facebook and other social media sites. His protests made the armed campaign against India mainstream and rejuvenated the movement which had withered in recent years.

His death inspired 200 young men to join armed groups in sight of continuing the struggle.

Protestors have been fighting since the late 1980’s for independence for IHK., however what distinguishes this tale from that of others is the voicing of the locals who hid behind others as the struggle continued.

Due to Wani being lost at the hands of this struggle, the people of Kashmir grieve for him and no longer choose to stand down as the oppression on their home ground continues.