Kashmir On the Edge After Burhan Wani's Death, Father Says He is Proud of His "Martyrdom"
SRINAGAR: Kashmir Valley remains on the edge following the killing of Burhan Muzaffar Wani, the 22-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander who became the face of 'New Insurgency' in Kashmir Valley, in an encounter in Anantnag district yesterday evening.
Curfew-like restrictions have been imposed in the summer capital Srinagar as well as different areas of the Valley with the authorities suspending the Amarnath Yatra while the J&K government has also cancelled all the exams scheduled today.
"Mobile internet services have also been withdrawn as a precautionary measure," a senior police official said.
The poster boy of the resurgent militancy in Kashmir, Burhan joined the Hizb after the 2010 civilian unrest in the Valley, rising the ladder in militant ranks to become the Divisional Commander of the group for south Kashmir.
According to J&K Police sources, he led a group of nearly two dozen young boys, at one point of time, who mounted a wave of attacks on security personnel in the Valley over the last two years, bringing the insurgency-related violence to an all-time high in recent years.
Although many reports ascribe his plunge into violence as a result of the 'humiliation' faced by his brother at the hands of security forces, his father, Muzaffar Ahmad Wani, told The Citizen that his son had set out on a "virtuous path" and that he is "proud" of his "martyrdom".
"Today, I am happy that Burhan has finally achieved sha'haadat (martyrdom). I have given away my two sons for the cause of Allah. If my third son wants to join militants, I will not stop him," Wani, who is a school principal, said over phone last night.
His another son, Khalid Wani, was killed last year in a controversial exchange of gunfire when he had gone to meet his brother, Burhan, in a forested area in south Kashmir.
The chief of police for Jammu and Kashmir, K Rajendra, said a group of militants opened fire on a joint search team of police and Army, on the trial of Burhan, in a village near Kokernag health resort, triggering the encounter.
"Three militants, including Burhan, were killed in the encounter while one policeman was also injured in the initial exchange of gunfire," DG Rajendra said, adding that the operation was the result of extensive surveillance mounted to nab the Hizb commander.
The news was met with disbelief and shock in Kashmir Valley where Burhan, an A+ category militant who carried a reward of Rs 10 lakh, dead or alive, was eulogised for shedding the cloak of anonymity and openly threatening to carry out attacks against the security forces.
The killing sparked spontaneous late night protests across towns and villages with agitated protesters shouting anti-India, pro-freedom and pro-Pakistan slogans. At many places, announcements were made from the loudspeakers of mosques, urging people to come out and join protests.
When the news of the encounter got flashed in local media, the separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq urged people to observe a strike on Saturday against the death of Burhan.
Mirwaiz also called for a funeral in-absentia at Jamia Masjid in honour of Burhan.
However, fearing deterioration in law and order, the J&K Police clamped down on the Hurriyat leaders by either detaining them at their homes or arresting them.
According to police sources, nearly three dozen Hurriyat leaders and their activists have been put under restrictions.
Preparations are underway for the funeral of Burhan with thousands of people converging at his residence in south Kashmir's Tral. The other militant, according to sources, is believed to be one Sartaj, a surrendered militant who had joined Hizbul Mujahideen after being inspired by Burhan some two years ago.
Earlier, late-night protests broke out in a number of towns and villages against the killing with security installations, including some Army posts, facing the ire of the agitated protesters in some parts of the Valley.
However, the police official said the police and paramilitary forces have been "ordered to show maximum restraint" while dealing with any law and order problem.