By Asaf Ali Lone
I came to Kashmir the day before Eid to celebrate Eid with my family in Kashmir. Just after two days I reached Kashmir, news came that Burhan was shot with his two other accomplices. After this news became public, there was grief and anger on the face of every man, woman, and child I met. Everybody was grieving the death of a young hero, who was their beloved. That was not the end of the story; some people left in the dark of the night to reach Tral so as to be part of Burhan’s last rites. The next day, people from outside Tral, who went to pay their respect to their hero, were not allowed to enter Tral. It is uncalled for and unheard of; at the same time, it is very inhuman. Burhan was a resident of Kashmir; the Indian state has no right to stop people from paying their respect to a soul who belonged to them. The agony does not end here. To stop and demoralise people from attending Burhan’s funeral, they tried to frighten people by indiscriminate firing and torture on the streets, which resulted in deaths of hundreds of innocents. This time brutalisation of innocents was done mostly by the J&K Police. This trend can be seen mostly after 2008: the change in the style of the J&K Police to militaristic style by direct firing, torture on the roads, and even inside the premises of homes, as was seen this time. What gives impunity to Indian security agencies in Kashmir is not AFSPA, POTA, TADA, PSA or any other Act but forced military Occupation of Kashmir by India. These acts are just tools, which makes the occupation more dangerous. There is no hope for justice presently in Indian Occupied Kashmir. If somebody thinks there is an iota of hope, let the Indian state bring to justice and hand over all the violators of military, who have brutalised humanity in Kashmir especially since 1990.
In one week, you might be wondering that all the people who died were protestors or stone-pelters. The young person who died in Uruan, Pulwama, was not a protestor; he was shot dead while he was on the road trying to enter his bakery shop. There were no protests going on where he was shot dead. An old couple and their young son were brutally beaten and injured while they were sitting inside their house. There were target killings of young men; it didn’t matter if the protests were mild or heavy. Ambulances were ransacked and the drivers beaten to pulp. In one incident, an ambulance driver was so brutally injured by the CRPF that the ambulance was driven to hospital by a local driver. In some incidents, the injured were dragged out of ambulances and beaten up by security men. In a nearby village, a young person was found dead on the banks of Jhelum River after missing for three days. He had gone to attend Burhan’s funeral and there were visible marks of torture on his body. In another gross incident, an injured young man was beaten by a police officer inside the premises of the hospital. These are few stories that I have heard and witnessed. Meanwhile, every source of modern communication has been shut down by the government; even the newspapers are not being allowed to circulate.
What is happening in Kashmir is not new; this pattern of torture has been followed since 1990s. The tactics or technology is new like the pellet guns; otherwise the pattern is same. ‘Kill Kashmiris’ is the motto of the Indian security agencies.
The Resistance Movement in Kashmir
The armed resistance movement reached to its full bloom in the year, 1990. The rigged J&K state assembly elections of 1987 had a huge impact on the resistance movement in Kashmir. The armed struggle in Kashmir is neither a reaction nor a new phenomenon in Kashmir but a part of the resistance movement and freedom struggle of Kashmiris. Thousands of educated/uneducated people have sacrificed their lives for the struggle of freedom. One can only laugh at the lack of knowledge and the way Indian media turns hysteric about Kashmir these days. The coldness of Indian media towards the cycle of violence in Kashmir created by Indian military in Kashmir is unethical and depicts the sad story of journalism in India. The freedom struggle has passed through different phases since 1947: from the Plebiscite movement, led by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, who betrayed the cause in its important period, to a united platform for political action through electioneering process, to armed struggle, mass-protests, stone-pelting sessions, hartals and chalos. Even the slogans have changed with time. Some of the slogans that are being presently raised in Kashmir were not even heard 40 years ago. Slogans like “Rai Shumari”, meaning Plebiscite, were on the tip of the tongue of every Kashmiri during the 50s and 60s. Then it changed to “Azadi” after the 90s. As slogans, “AZADI” and “RAI SHUMARI” are historically, socially, culturally, conceptually, and principally rooted in the principle of ‘Right to Self Determination’ of people belonging to a region currently held by two nation-states.
In simple words, Kashmiris have been fighting against the illegitimate Occupation of Kashmir by the Indian state for last 70 years. The centrality of Kashmir issue is that it is a political question which has to be solved between India, Pakistan, and the people of Kashmir. However, India is so ZIDDI that for last 70 years it has kept its population in a state of denial by obfuscating the facts that it is ATOOT ANG and internal dispute of India. Kashmir belongs to the people of Kashmir and, as accepted by all the parties involved, the long pending issue can only be solved through a political dialogue, through the right of ‘Right to Self Determination’ of the people of Kashmir. As long as India does not accept this fact, the struggle of the oppressed people of Kashmir will continue till the dawn of AZADI. It is for the people of Kashmir to decide their political future which they are most capable of.
Why Kashmiris Love BURHAN
The question is: Who is ‘Burhan’ and who are these youngsters joining the ranks of armed resistance groups in Kashmir?
Let me simplify it here for those who do not know them. These young armed revolutionaries are sons of the soil of Kashmir. They were born and brought up here, they live here, and they die for the sake of their love for freedom and Islam, too. Let Islamophobes get provoked by this statement! Now those who do not belong to Indian Occupied Kashmir but come from other parts such as Azad Kashmir, Gilgit, Baltistan or Pakistan are the well-wishers of the Kashmir cause. One might not agree with their ideology or strategy, but as far as I know, they respect the political sentiments of Kashmiri people, unlike the Indian state. They are individuals who have families like any one of us. They come here just to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with their Kashmiri folks against the oppressive Indian state. They are our guests and Kashmiris are known for their MEHMAAN NAWAZI. They are welcome in our homes, unlike the Indian military whose presence in Kashmir has destroyed the peace of this place.
Since they are our guests, it is the duty and responsibility of every host to protect and safeguard their guests. The Indian army has no right to blast the houses and destroy the properties of civilians, even if they find these guests staying in our homes. Even in a war, one cannot just blast houses and kill people ruthlessly. I think the Indian state is signatory to the Geneva Conventions. In just two days post-Burhan’s funeral, more than 40 innocent Kashmiris were martyred and thousands got injured due to incessant firing of pellets, tear-gas shelling, and direct firing by the Indian security forces. Hundreds have been hit by pellet bullets in their heads which has resulted in the loss of eye sight and lethal injuries. The sad fact is that some protesters were forced to jump into the river that caused few deaths because of forced drowning and torture by the Indian security forces.
Any Indian presence (physical or institutional) in Kashmir is Occupation. Burhan Wani of Tral became ‘Burhan bhai’ of Kashmir not because he was alienated from India. In the first place, Kashmiris have never accepted integration with the Indian nation and state. Burhan was conscious of the fact what it means to live under an occupation, a life without freedom and dignity. Burhan chose the life of dignity, not humiliation. So are these young people who are on the streets pelting stones at the Indian forces or who have taken up arms against the Indian occupation in Kashmir. That is why Burhan is the hero of Kashmir.
Currently, Delhi seems to be in conversation with the pro-Indian puppet politicians of Kashmir. The Assembly in Kashmir or the elections in Kashmir are illegitimate, unless Kashmir is not freed from the military occupation of India. How can these puppets claim their legitimacy, when India has created a war-like situation in Kashmir? In every nook and corner, there is presence of the military. Even the police here have turned into a military-like institution. The government institutions in Kashmir behave as if they are part of a military dictatorship. The resources are looted and Kashmir has no stake in it. The irony of the largest democracy of the world is that its record in Kashmir is bleak with paradoxes, blood of innocents, and mass murders.
What can be the way out? The solution is very simple and to the best interest of the Indian state. Accept the political aspirations and demands of Kashmiris. The state must engage politically and not militarily with the people of Kashmir. The Indian state must accept the fact that Kashmir is a dispute of political and international nature between the people of Kashmir, Pakistan, and India. They must accept people like Burhan, who have taken up the way of arms as a means to achieve political freedom from India, as political actors not as terrorists. The Indian media, citizens, and the state must stop calling our freedom fighters as terrorists. The political engagement is the need of the hour. Otherwise every single young person in Kashmir is left with no option but to choose the way of Burhan. Though violence is never a good option, Kashmiris are not cowards. To end the savagery of the Indian state, Kashmiris will fight back till the dawn of freedom and peace.
Salute to all Shaheeds, who have been fighting for the freedom of oppressed people of Kashmir. The day of 13th July, 1931, is a remarkable milestone in the history of Kashmir against oppression, subjugation, and resistance of the oppressed people.
Asaf Ali Lone is from Indian Occupied Kashmir. He studied Culture and Society at IIT, Gandhinagar. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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