Meanwhile in Kashmir: “Let’s Celebrate Wani”

Protest in Srinagar
Kashmiris raise Pakistani flag at a protest held on Eid day in Srinagar

Jammu and Kashmir, the disputed territory bordering Pakistan and India has always remained in the news because of the atrocities that Indian Army has been carrying out since 1947 against the Muslim majority in the region. The partition of the Indian subcontinent saw the creation of Pakistan and India. One country for the Muslims of the subcontinent and the other for the Hindus, the two majorities that existed. However, India introduced itself as a secular state while Pakistan vowed to become an Islamic Republic. For the later, it was a belief which is true till today.

During the partition period, the fate of over 550 princely states was left undecided. The respective states were to join either of the two countries depending on their geographical location and the wishes of their people. Nevertheless, shortly after the independence, the Maharaja Hari Singh, the last ruling Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir played off India and Pakistan because of his stance of an independent Kashmir. However, due to fears that Pakistan will invade the region because of Kashmir’s Muslim majority, the Maharaja appealed to then Indian Prime Minister Nehru to send troops. The Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, took advantage of the situation and advised the Maharaja to accede to India before they sent the troops. Hence, the Indian government pushed the Maharaja to sign an Instrument of Accession to the Dominion of India. The manipulation worked in their favour but went against the wishes of the Muslim majority of Kashmir. Following that day, the region has been a battlefield for the Muslim Kashmiris and the oppressors – the Indian Army.

In the latest, the Occupied Kashmir has seen 39 dead and over 3,100 injured in protest against the killing of a Kashmiri youth Burhan Muzaffar Wani 21, on July 9, 2016. He was associated with Hizbul Mujahideen, an organisation fighting for the freedom of Kashmir. The Indian Army for decades has oppressed the people of Kashmir mainly targeting the youth, following the example of Israeli Army in Palestine. Waging war on the innocent and unarmed citizens is terrorism whether this crime is done by a group of people or the military of the state. Sadly, internationally this gets no real coverage and places like Kashmir and Palestine keep getting slaughter due to the authoritarian rule of law and extremist mindsets of the democratically elected body of a country that does not represent them but occupy them.

Burhan Wani
Burhan Wani 21, was associated with Kashmiri freedom fighting group Hizbul Mujahideen whose social media campaign had an outreach among a section of Kashmiri Muslim youth.

In the past prominent Kashmiri figures such as Mohammad Yasin Malik, the Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front fighting for an independent Kashmir was tortured and held in prison by the Indian Army for years among other pro-freedom leadership, including Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to name a few. Burhan Wani was hunted and killed by the Indian armed forces because he became a popular icon among the youth of Kashmir demanding independence from the oppression that has killed hundreds and thousands till date. Wani never shot anyone but ran an active social media campaign delivering messages to his people of independence from India. While the sentiments were common among the masses, he was mobilising them to fight for freedom, a right every Kashmiri deserves without being called a terrorist, especially when their peaceful protests go to deaf ears while the army kills them slowly and steadily.

The false claims by India of peace have gone out of the window after the latest killings. If it wants peace, the solution is to let go and not to control something that was obtained through manipulation. Or even better, implement the UNSC Resolution of 21 April 1948 that calls for a referendum. However, 68 years have passed but India till date has not given that right to the Kashmiri people. Unfortunately, the UN has not penalised India for the violation because the suppressed are Muslims and not the people of the WEST. Nonetheless, the chants and slogans of independence have become louder than ever with messages containing “Azadi” going viral on social media. India has to listen to the voice of the majority to be able to call itself the largest democracy. According to local media reports, Indian Army is indiscriminately firing in the valley of Kashmir where hundreds of thousands of people were protesting peacefully on the streets. The cold-blooded murder by the Indian Amry has no one talking especially America, who is a first to respond in every matter. But why will it instill morals, ethics and stand for justice when it has poorly disguised the financial incentives that opened doors for India to $500 billion in American investment in the coming five years. Everything aside, the sheer sadness is to know that these criminal forces will never be brought to justice because they are immune from any prosecution under the special draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Acts (AFSPA).

Syed Ata Hasnain, a retired Indian Army General, who served for over two decades in Kashmir said, “Burhan Wani was not personally related to violence so much, but was associated with the leadership.” However, his only crime was that he “conveyed the message of Azadi,” to the people of Kashmir. India cannot see Kashmir going to Pakistan, a loss that would have been seen more of a failure for the past, current and the future leadership of India to come. Freedom fighters like Wani are just not one in Kashmir, but the actions of the India Army keep giving birth to hundreds if not thousands of Wanis that will spring back until Kashmir is not as per the will of its people. Meanwhile, “Let’s Celebrated Wani” the one that is gone and the one that will come again to see “An India Free Kashmir.”