Kashmir, July 28 : In 2015, Burhan Wani, a 21-year-old militant commander from south Kashmir’s Tral area, redefined militancy in Kashmir when he posted a picture of 11 gun-toting men dressed in army fatigues. For the first time, the militants were unmasked, in what seemed an open dare to the security forces in the Valley.
Two years later, most of the militants in the Valley, including Wani, have been killed in various encounters with security forces. The three surviving militants include Zakir Musa, who after Wani has become one of the most dreaded militant. But unlike Wani, Musa is making news for different reasons.
While Wani was a considerable moderate, whose last video message asked people to welcome tourists and Amarnath Yatris with open heart, Musa is known for more radical “Sharia and Sahadat slogan”.
The open radicalisation forced Musa to sever ties with the Hizbul Mujahideen, as the outfit trashed his threat to behead separatist Hurriyat leaders, a development that had the potential to impact militancy in Kashmir.
Musa’s decision signalled serious differences among home-grown militants and the outfit’s leadership, based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Islamic Kashmir, Not Secular One
Musa said the armed insurgency—which has claimed the lives of thousands of civilians and security forces since 1989—was aimed at the creation of an “Islamic Kashmir”, unlike the stated position of militants whose aim is to separate Kashmir from India.
“…If Hizbul Mujahideen doesn’t represent me, then I also don’t represent them. From today onwards, I have no association with Hizbul Mujahideen,” Musa had said in an audiovisual statement after facing criticism for his Hurriyat threat.
“…Our intention should be that, we have to achieve ‘azadi’ (freedom) to establish Islamic rule and not for secular state. If we are fighting for secular state, then my blood won’t be spilled for that purpose.”
The rift surfaced after Musa had called leaders of the Hurriyat Conference “hypocrites, infidels, followers of evil” and threatened to chop off their heads “if they create hurdles in the path of making Kashmir an Islamic State”.
He had said their heads will be hanged in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, as Hurriyat leaders, including hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani and moderates Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, had denounced Islamist organisations such as the ISIS and al-Qaeda, saying they had no role in Kashmir.
He is of economically sound family from a family of professionals with an engineer father and a surgeon brother. No one though knows the reasons for his joining militancy.
Then a student of BTech in Chandigarh, he had come home for vacations with his friends from college and he decided to stay back. Days later, he left home to join Wani in the jungles. Musa has been classified as A++ category (the most dreaded according to police) and carries a bounty of Rs 10 lakh on his head.
While Musa has not been able to garner much support among the ranks of militants, slogans in his support have been heard in many funerals of militants lately.