Burhan Muzaffar Wani- The Robin Hood of Kashmir
By Imran Khan
24 September, 2015
The United Nations (UN) and international community recognizing the importance of young people had designated 12 August 2010 to 11 August 2011 as the ‘International Year of Youth’. However in Kashmir, it was the same “2010” when more than hundred young people lost their lives while protesting against Indian occupation. And as per reports it was again 2010 which proved to be a turning point in the life of Burhan Muzaffar Wani. Over the years, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, the 21 year old rebel from Tral (South Kashmir), has become the Robin Hood of Kashmir, the new face of armed rebellion, and the poster boy of present generation in Kashmir.
The way Robin Hood had become an outlaw, and fought the brutal, cruel and greedy King John of England, Burhan Wani shares a somewhat similar story. As per reports Burhan’s story began on a summer evening in 2010, when he, his brother Khalid and a friend were riding a motorbike in Tral (South Kashmir) and were stopped by so called security forces, ordered to get cigarettes for them, and in return beaten and humiliated for no reason.
Burhan like Robin Hood did not want to live the life of a slave, facing humiliation, oppression and suffocation in his own land. Thus he decided, he left his home, took shelter in nearby forests and joined Hizbul Mujahideen (a militant outfit). Though all may not agree with Burhan’s decision but the so called civilized world needs at least to ponder over the reason that forced Burhan to take an extreme step.
In Robin Hood’s story there were two kings, King Richard and King John. Though King Richard was famous for his kindness and good deeds, Kings John was equally infamous for his cruelty, greed, brutality etc. Nobody liked King John and subsequently his nobles forced him to sign a famous charter which was called the “Magna Carta” to restore democracy and justice in England.
In Burhans Story there were Kings (PMs and CMs) like Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah, Bakshi Gulam Mohammad, Shamsudin, GM sadiq, Mir Qasim, Farooq Abdullah, GM Shah, Mufti Mohammad Syeed, GN Azad and Omar Abdullah, and above all the Indian version of democracy, justice, secularism, and equality. Democracy which has been manipulated and rigged many times, Justice! “Hanged time and again”, Secularism! Demolished and interfered now and then and lastly the special version of equality bestowed on Kashmiries is self evident.
Though like King Richard, Shiekh Abdullah has been known for some of his good deeds but he is also known for the “Magna Carta” (Indira-Abdullah accord) he signed and thus the last nail in the coffin of Kashmir’s autonomy with his own hands. So largely it is the Karma of our own PMs and CMs that young and educated Burhans are forced to leave books, pens or cricket bat and take arms in their hands to fight for our lost freedom, rights, dignity and honour.
However it has also been analysed by political analysts and historians that all those politicians were mere puppets and the real puppeteer was Indian government. Right from the so called accession of Kashmir to India, New Delhi's policy with regard to Kashmir has been of “ignoring UN resolutions, eroding Article 370, rigging elections, manipulating or overthrowing elected governments, and neglecting economic development”. All this lies at the heart of Kashmir conflict.
Armed rebellion against Indian rule in Kashmir began in 1989, when Kashmiri youth witnessed the fake drama of election. When democracy was rigged in 1987 elections, Kashmiri youth, faced with no choice, turned their hopelessness into active aggression. Pakistan added only fuel to the fire which had been already lit by India with her own hands. Subsequently the iron hand response from Indian government allowed the violence to become cyclic. Though from 2008 to 2011 Kashmiries changed their strategy from armed resistance to street protests and other non-violent means. But with further chocked democratic and political space, Burhans of Kashmir are again turning to arms and who knows whether this time there will be any truce or not.
Though many pseudo analysts may falsely attribute the new development in Kashmir to unemployment, radicalisation, external interference etc but the fact remains that the unfulfilled political aspirations, lack of a sense of freedom, chocked political space, rights violations and repression by Indian security forces who enjoy impunity under special laws and above all the lingering Kashmir conflict, are the most important reasons for the kashmiri youth to turn to arms again.
Indian government at present and state government in particular is doing almost nothing to engage Kashmiri politicians and look for a political solution of Kashmir, or at least win the hearts of people here (particularly youth). Instead new and continuous provocations are only adding to the problem.
The world too is equally criminal with regard to the plight of Kashmir. The criminal silence of world community over the sufferings of Kashmiries reflects the inhumanness of world governments and their failure to promote peace by facilitating conflict resolution. Such a world scenario has again made Kashmiri youth to believe that they can’t rely on the justice system of biased world and have to take pragmatic steps on their own for the resolution of Kashmir. Thus not just India but world too forced people like Burhan to leave the so called civilized world and be an outlaw.
Though many times in past, Indian government has claimed their commitment to resolve Kashmir issue with dialogue, but Kashmiries have seen such aimless dialogues since 1947. Such dialogues are seen as hypocritical, strategic and aimed only to buy time and linger the dispute. And now in the absence of any serious dialogue process with Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists, the hope for a peaceful solution of Kashmir issue has faded significantly. A major section of youth in Kashmir, hopeless with status quo, has turned towards armed struggle as an option to push India to negotiating table. Thus Burhan phenomenon should be an eye opener for Indian government and policy makers. A paradigm shift from military control of Kashmir to political and peaceful solution of Kashmir is a necessity.
To bring Burhans of Kashmir back to their homes and not let the phenomenon to get cyclic, there is the need of conflict resolution and empowering people, (particularly youth) by strengthening democratic institutions, providing political space, justice and equality and most importantly letting the people to live with dignity and honour.
A place where oppression and humiliation has become order of the day and talking about justice is crime, meaning of the name “Burhan Muzaffar Wani” changes into “The Robin Hood of Kashmir”.
Imran Khan (M.Phil Psychology), Presently working as Government Teacher, Previously worked as Psychologist for Action Aid International and Medicins Sans Frontieres/Doctors without Borders and J&K Police
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