Burhan Wani: Cricket Fan, Class Topper Turned Kashmiri Youth Icon?
The 21-year-old poster boy of Kashmir’s insurgency movement, Burhan Wani was shot dead by security forces, along with two others, on Friday.
Hailing from the Tral region of Kashmir, Wani was a name every Kashmiri was familiar with. Consequently, Wani’s death triggered off a violent reaction in Kashmir, leading to eight more casualties.
How it Began for Burhan
Burhan had joined the Hizbul Mujahideen, a pro-Pakistan indigenous militant outfit, at the age of 15 in 2010.
Reports suggest that Burhan and his elder brother Khalid were beaten up by the Indian security forces in 2010. Khalid was later killed in an “encounter” in 2015 and his mutilated corpse was returned to his family by the authorities.
The senior Wani maintains that his elder son’s death was a “custodial killing,” as his body did not have any bullet wounds, reported The Indian Express.
“Almost Everyone Has Been Beaten Up by the Army”
Muzaffar Wani also maintains that it was not a single incident that led his younger son to pick up arms.
Almost everyone here has been beaten up by the Army... But everyone didn’t become a militant. It depends on how much one can take. Someone’s ‘Ghairat’ (self-repect) got challenged time and again, so he decided to answer. Others decided to stay quiet. My son couldn’t bear to see the atrocities and the humiliation, so he was forced to choose the path which he is on right now.
Burhan: A Youth Icon, a Household Name
Popular on social media, Burhan used social media for recruitment. His pictures and videos, where he often posed with weapons, would be rapidly circulated across social media platforms, lending him the aura of a larger-than-life hero. A cult name of sorts, Wani was a name every Kashmiri household was familiar with.
Wani: Cricket Fan and Class Topper
Before the Indian authorities declared a bounty of Rs 10 lakh on his head, Wani had been a bright student at school. According to Scroll, he was also a cricket fan, with Shahid Afreedi and Virender Sehwag being two of his favourite players.
Police Tipped off by One of Burhan’s ‘Girlfriends’
According to a Zee News report, the police was informed about Burhan’s whereabouts by a woman in his life.
Wani was involved with several women at the same time, and a scorned girlfriend divulged the details of his location to the police.
Harassment Meted Out by Police on Regular Basis
In an interview, Muzaffar Wani said that Khalid and him were often detained by the police, disrupting their day to day lives.
They (police) raid our house every now and then. That is a routine for us now. And we don’t have a problem with that. It’s their duty. But when they unnecessarily used to detain and trouble Khalid and even me, that used to mentally disturb every one of us. They have searched our home may be a thousand times.
Khalid once missed an exam because of a police detention, according to Muzaffar Wani.
“It’s not Just Burhan’s Fight, It’s the Whole of Kashmir”
Muzaffar Ahmed Wani, who is a school headmaster, said his son’s fight was not a personal one.
Wani also points out that all of Kashmir is part of the on-going battle being waged since 1989.
Since 1989, Kashmiris want freedom from India. It’s not just Burhan’s fight. It’s the whole of Kashmir which aspires for that. Burhan is one of them. If you go back in time, (you can) see how many were killed in Srinagar, Sopore, Anaantnag and other districts. More than a lakh people have died. What were they searching for? Azadi (Freedom)... When all this started, Burhan was not even born.