Burhan Muzaffar Wani, the poster boy of new age militants in Kashmir, was killed along with his two aides last night in a village in Kokernag of the Anantnag District. Burhan Wani was a master marketeer of his brand of terrorism and ran his network much like a business house. It would not be wrong to say that Wani infused life into what has long been called Kashmir resistance in the Valley by holding recruitment drives, and spreading and selling his message of the newest brand of terrorism on social media. The biggest reason behind his success is local press which unrelentingly showcased the 22-year-old’s life on all possible platforms repeatedly.
A simple analysis of Burhan’s rise coupled with a study of Burhan’s activity clearly puts flesh on the bones of a weak underachiever. The face of militancy in Kashmir and the most wanted Hizbul Mujahideen commander in the recent times had actually delivered nothing on ground.
The sad story of this bright young mind, a topper in class X examination and the son of a retired School Principal, of how he got dragged into militancy is no less than a tinsel town flick. Burhan had witnessed his elder brother getting roughed up by the security agencies and had vowed to take revenge. He joined militancy at the tender age of 15 by some accounts and 16 by others and managed to create a team of seventeen men most of whom belonged to South Kashmir.
However, it is a fact that most of these youth were his classmates, neighbours and acquaintances that he had known personally. Their reign was reserved to South Kashmir and never found roots in North Kashmir. Seventeen is quite a number when it comes to recruitment of academically bright people but today only three remain. The severe trimming in a very short span of time depicts a faulty concoction of poor organizational skills and lack of forethought.
The hype created by local press portraying fearlessness of Wani and his brigade of young militants alongwith support and shelter from locals were the two biggest factors behind his monumental following in a six-year-long stint that began back in 2010.
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Multiple reports of boys and young men trying to join Burhan’s brand of terrorism surfaced from time to time but the numbers never really swelled up. His sizable and highly motivated following on social media started a new trend nonetheless – fearlessness in stone pelting on members of security forces combating the militants during live encounters.
Burhan definitely managed to impart an ideology among the youngsters that Militancy was a heroic job and risk free even at worst.
How much ever one tries, an analogy between Burhan Wani and the militants of the 90s cannot be drawn. The wave of 90s had true fearlessness and the magnitude of the risk in engaging the terror-mongers of the time prevented many in the police to join counter-terror operations. The killings of security agency men was frequent and efficiently promulgated the intensity of fear.
Burhan Wani and his men may have dominated social media and created buzz with every single photo/video but never commanded the fear their predecessors lived with.
The flame of the dying lamp shines the brightest before fading out and the militancy in Kashmir has been minimized to a bare minimum. Suddenly came along a youngster who was tech savvy, would blatantly put across his photos sporting guns and grenades and became a hero. Though the J&K police and the security agencies have gone on record in the past to establish Burhan as a ‘big problem’ but they kept at their job and trimmed his team members one by one and steadily.
His death took no toll on security agencies and that says everything about the hollowness of the king that was not.
A body without a mind cannot function and now that Burhan is gone, the Hizbul Mujahideen have faced a blow which is most difficult to recover from. His death will mean tense days ahead in the valley considering the Amarnath Yatra is on. His death will definitely immortalize his legacy and act as inspiration for the youth in Kashmir but whether the inspiration would materialise into anything real remains to be seen.
The death of local militants in the 90s was motivation enough for anyone and everyone to tread the path of militancy in the valley but whether it will repeat with Wani’s waning out is largely improbable.
The security agencies will have to wake up longer hours and drink a lot of water to keep their eyes hydrated. The coming times are crucial and will determine at large the course Kashmir is going to take in future.
The views are of the writer and in no way reflect on the policy of U4UVoice.