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A Conversation with Burhan Wani’s Mother in Kashmir

By Mohammed Sirajuddeen

The encounter in which the former Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Commander, Burhan Wani, was killed in early July 2016 was a watershed in the history of ‘resistance politics’ in Kashmir. The Valley since then witnessed massive protests for many months that brought into the fore hitherto accumulated anger of a subjugated population living under constant surveillance and repression meted out by the Indian security state. The fall of a ‘militant’ and ‘massive popular’ outbursts is a unique combination that makes the politics of resistance in Kashmir different from other insurgent movements of the Indian subcontinent. Unlike that of the early 1990s, the ‘mujahideen’ of current Kashmir have become a symbol of rage against the three decade long spiraling of extrajudicial violence. The state conduct in Kashmir not only had surpassed the ethics in politics but also blatantly violated international civil-political norms. The commentators who compared the militant revival in Kashmir had juxtaposed the current wave as a ‘new insurgency’ from that of what Kashmir had witnessed two decades earlier. But many in Kashmir, including Burhan’s mother, believe that the ‘Mujahideen’ of the present era are the torchbearers of the ‘tahreek’, kick started by their predecessors earlier and find no difference in the objective. Hence, there is continuity with a qualitatively different zeal of ‘shahadat’.

Read the excerpts from an exclusive interview I had conducted last month with Mrs. Mymoona Akthar, mother of Burhan Muzaffar Wani. The interview took place at Burhan’s home in Tral that comes under South Kashmir’s Pulwama District. 

Mohammed Sirajuddeen: How do you recall your son Burhan?
Mymoona Akthar: Passing of Burhan is not a loss for me. He has achieved his goal. And the injustice meted out to the people of Kashmir by the Indian State is highly condemnable. Many children lost their life and numerous deaths brought miseries to parents in Kashmir.

MS: Why do you think Burhan joined militancy?
MA: Personally, security forces had tortured every one and my children also faced the brunt of violence. He wanted to become a Professor. He was the topper in the 8th standard. Before the 10th exam, he joined the ‘mujahideen’ forces. He was active for 5 years 9 months. Security forces brutalized us many a time. During special holidays like August 15th and other special occasions like Republic day, security forces called his father and brothers to the Police Station many times… Awantipora…Tral…and sometime to ‘cargo centre’ in Srinagar. During election period and whenever VIPs came from Delhi, or anything happened in Kashmir, they used to arrest his brothers and father, and the range of detention spanned from 2 to 10 days and once his brother Khalid was detained for 20 days. Khalid was killed earlier. It was on 10 October, 2010 that Burhan became a ‘Mujahid’. Burhan met just ‘four’ or ‘five’ times after joining the Mujahideen force. Searching happened continuously….and neighbors, relatives were all under constant surveillance. Security forces used to come and search home frequently and most of the time security forces came in the night. 

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MS: How do you see the massive unrest that occurred after Burhan’s death?
MA: Burhan’s character was the main reason for such a mass outrage in Kashmir. His main aim was to struggle for Kashmir’s cause. You have to ask Kashmiri people why they protested Burhan’s killing. Allah will regard him with a good place. There was not much problem at home. In Tral there was fierce protest but was met with immense state crackdown. Like in other parts of Kashmir, security forces used pellets and injured hundreds of youth in Tral. There were special prayers for Burhan but it was banned and curfew was imposed after initial permissions for prayers. In the later stages, the authorities banned all prayer gatherings. Hundreds of youth were detained and PSA was slapped and many people are languishing in jails.

MS: What is your version of Azadi?
MA: India should go back. We want to bring ‘Allah’s Nizam’. We want an end to the oppression and bring peace. I give priority to how we achieve independence. The Hurriyat strategy is good. Within Hurriyat, there should be leaders who are not selfish. They should be faithful like the ‘Mujahideen’ who even sacrifice their life. Before the ‘shahadat’ of Burhan, there were discrepancies in the Hurriyat attitude but due to the grace of ‘Allah’ and because of Burhan’s ‘shahadat’, everyone united and now the public follows them. 

MS: What is your view on the conducts of Mujahideen?
MA: Earlier the ‘Mujahideen’ were more in numbers and were unorganized. This unorganized character helped the ‘Indian agents’ to peep in and they later became the ‘Ikhwanis’. Earlier, the ‘Mujahideen’ forces also committed mistakes. This is to be attributed structurally to the presence of the ‘Indian agents’ and the ‘Ikhwanis’. But the genuine sacrificing mentality of the earlier the ‘Mujahideen’ is still present in the present day ‘Mujahideen’ forces. The current ‘Mujahideen’ are less in numbers but they are organized in structure. Now they hardly commit mistakes because of the organized character. Now they have only one motive…. that is the cause of ‘Azadi’ and ‘Cause of Allah’. Burhan didn’t commit mistakes; he was not against ‘Amarnath Yartra’. Since he worked for the sake of Allah, he was in support of Pandits and wanted communal harmony.

Bio:
Mohammed Sirajuddeen
is a doctoral researcher at the Centre for Political Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. He may be contacted at mohammed.pd1@gmail.com.

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Read the latest issue of Cafe Dissensus Magazine on ‘Urdu in Contemporary India: Predicaments and Promises’, edited by Fahad Hashmi, Independent Scholar, Delhi, India.

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