The killing of Burhan Wani, who had joined the ranks of Hizbul Mujahideen in 2010, has ended a long manhunt by the security forces. Not surprisingly, it has sparked an uncontrollable rage, not only in his hometown Tral, but across the Kashmir Valley. More than 34 protesters were killed in just three days after Burhan’s death while over 1500 persons have suffered firearm injuries.
Burhan joined militancy as a teenager when Kashmir was in the midst of the summer agitation in 2010 in which over 120 civilians were killed in police and CRPF action. It cannot be ruled out that Burhan’s killing is a huge setback to militancy in Kashmir but it won’t stop others from joining militant groups either. In fact, his death might inspire more to follow in his footsteps.
Burhan’s death has injected a lot of anger among youth for whom Burhan was like a hero who could take Kashmir towards the path of solution. The coming days are going to be very crucial and there is no denying the fact that Burhan’s story won’t end with his death. In fact it may be beginning of new phase of militancy in Kashmir.
Burhan’s example, combined with his audacious use of social media, especially persuaded local youths to pick up gun over the last two years. His sheer existence gave hope to unarmed teenagers protesting on the streets. If the Handwara incident in April and the recent attack on the CRPF convoy in south Kashmir were wake-up calls, the violent incidents around Burhan’s funeral should leave no doubt that the disenchantment in Kashmir is not ‘sponsored’, nor is it restricted to few dozen people.
The saga of death and destruction that has unfolded in the Valley following Burhan’s killing with even the police coming under unprecedented attacks begs a couple of questions: Given the reaction to the killings and funerals of other militants, what were the arrangements made by security forces to deal with the fallout even as they took the decision to eliminate Burhan? Would it have been wiser to capture him alive?
The death of Burhan may have ended a chapter of insurgency in the troubled state but it is not an end in itself. The anger pouring out on the streets reflects the decades of disconnect between the rulers and the ruled in Kashmir. It also underlines the need to address the political question of Kashmir issue urgently.