The Islamist radicalization of the Kashmir valley is so deep that each and every terrorist (whether local or foreign) who is eliminated by the security forces is hailed as a shaheed (martyr) by Muslims of the valley. Hence it was no surprise that the same halo of greatness was bestowed on 21 year old top Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani after he was shot dead in an encounter with security forces.
At the same time, the anti-national secular radicalization of our media and public intellectuals is so deep that their reaction to Wani’s death romanticizes him as an idealistic young man who died an unfortunate death. Sample this headline in Hindustan Times – “Burhan Wani: Better living than dead?”
The report by senior journalist Harinder Baweja presents Wani as “a brilliant student, who had given up the comfort of his classroom and chosen to become a gun-wielding militant.” Baweja’s deep empathy with Kashmiri terrorists like Wani is apparent throughout the article, and it presents Wani as a valiant underdog fighting the might of the (brutal?) Bharatiya state. And Baweja is not alone. Kashmir’s favorite journalist Barkha Dutt too does her bit to spruce up Wani’s image as just a ‘social media warrior’ –
The memo to project Wani as a social media warrior seemed to have gone to the entire NDTV staff. This is what NDTV CEO Vikram Chandra tweeted –
Indian Express joined in the general environment of gloom and doom by changing their Facebook cover page to show Wani’s funeral.
— The-Lying-Lama (@KyaUkhaadLega) July 10, 2016
Thus, the underlying messaging from at least 3 mainstream media houses over Burhan Wani’s death was clear – ‘a charismatic Muslim youth forced to take up the gun due to state oppression, who was shot dead despite not having been involved in any major terror act.’
The political and intellectual class was not far behind in expressing their sympathies/condolences over the death of Burhan Wani. This is what ex- J&K CM and National Conference party leader Omar Abdullah tweeted –
And Marxist ideologue, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) and editor of Communist Party of India’s monthly publication ‘Liberation’ crossed all bounds by calling it an ‘extra-judicial killing’ –
Now read this piece by Lt. Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd), the former Corps Commander of the Srinagar based 15 Corps, an expert with first-hand knowledge of the Kashmir situation, to understand the true picture of Burhan Wani –
“Burhan Wani was the most-wanted terrorist in Kashmir Valley, credited with having created a wave of what is called New Militancy in South Kashmir. He managed in just five years to create a band of 60-70 young locally recruited terrorists. Many were well-educated and technically proficient in exploiting social media for their cause.
It is learnt that Burhan, once cornered, came out in an attempt to break the cordon and was gunned down. It is not as if the Army and the Police did not make attempts to appeal to Burhan Wani to surrender honourably.”
The General goes on to warn about the perils of allowing a public funeral which terrorist groups use to whip up public sentiment (sadly, the J&K Government did allow the public funeral for Wani and the consequences are for all to see), and ends his article with these observations –
“What has to be guarded against is the buildup of a fervour which will pitch more youth into militancy on the power of the image created in the eyes of the population. It is the imagination and the might of the power of information of the State against that of a few locals and the Separatists. It hasn’t exactly been a strong point with the State and needs to be thought through quickly and efficiently.
The media must be guarded in its reportage because over-projection of the events and the situation will surely play to the advantage of the anti-India elements.
For the moment, the challenge is to withstand the emotions of the moment and ensure no ‘martyr effect’ takes place.”
Even if we buy the media argument that Wani was chiefly responsible for social media operations of terror group Hizbul Mujahedeen (HM) – is doing propaganda and recruiting terrorists any less than actually carrying out terror attacks? Why would HM appoint Wani as a ‘commander’ if he was just a small fish in the terror organization? And Wani was killed while armed and trying to break out of a security cordon – he had been given enough opportunity to surrender but refused. What if some Army jawan had died in this encounter – would Harinder Baweja or Barkha Dutt have gone to that jawan’s father to conduct an interview?
The Wani episode is another clear example which shows that influential sections of our media (NDTV, Hindustan Times and Indian Express being at the forefront of this group), public intellectuals and political class are deeply sympathetic to anti-Bharat separatists and terrorists of all hues (especially Kashmiri separatists). Their ‘Idea of India’ is radically different from the ‘Idea of India’ of an ordinary citizen of this nation. And unless the State cracks down to expose the links some of our media elites have with our enemies, this group will keep eating away at the nation’s vitals.
Of course, terrorist Burhan Wani is a hero for Kashmiri Muslims, who poured out in thousands for his funeral as they did for the funeral of Pakistani terrorist Abu Qasim late last year. This from another article in Hindustan Times describes Kashmiri Muslims’ brainwashed angst over a terrorist’s death:
“On social media, many Kashmiris wrote about the killing and what followed. They also paid tributes to the “martyr”.
Many changed their profile pictures on Facebook to a black square to mourn his death, while others quoted from poems to describe the “martyrdom” of Wani. Some even used Wani’s image as their profile pictures.
“Martyrs don’t die, their blood waters the roots of resistance, and shakes the very foundations of occupation and oppression. You have left us in grief, Burhan! May you join your brothers in jannah. Allah is with the oppressed. Woe unto the oppressor!” social activist Essar Batool wrote on Facebook.
“People ran barefoot, to the reach the village across the fields for funeral prayers in absentia. But he was present too, in slogans and tears. Eternity is his name now. Resistance is his name. Rest in Power, Commander!” Umar Lateef Misgar, a graduate student of international relations and popular blogger, wrote.
And, for many Wani had achieved in his short span of life what many could not in a lifetime. “A life lived well. His 22 years better than a hundred years of a hundred thousand of us. Salam, jigar,” journalist Najeeb Mubarki wrote.
Sadly, our media’s intelletcual bankruptcy again came to the fore when a leading anchor dished out the lazy theory about ‘lack of economic opportunity’ leading to alienation in Kashmiri Muslim youth and driving them to terrorism.
Today, the Bharatiya state is heavily subsidizing the Kashmir valley and pumping in funds like anything – the lion’s share of Central funds sent to J&K end up with Kashmir valley, with Jammu and Ladakh regions discriminated against. Any visitor to Srinagar will tell you that the roads and infrastructure there is better than most other cities of Bharat, and if private companies are loathe to set up shop in J&K it is only because of security concerns. Kashmiris are free to migrate to any part of the country and do business (and many of them do) unlike non-Kashmiris who can’t dream of settling in the valley due to Article 370. Hence, Kashmiri Muslims have only themselves to blame for any ‘lack of economic opportunity’ – the Bharatiya state is giving an extremely sweet deal to the valley Muslims.
The root cause of the deadly terrorism that has gripped Kashmir for over 26 years is radical Islam. And the venom is spreading outside the valley too, as recent events in Jammu demonstrate. The current PDP-BJP coalition in J&K does not inspire confidence that it can offer any solutions for the troubled state. PDP is a separatist party at heart and they will just continue to suck up to Pakistan and play mind games with the Center.
Trifurcation of J&K into three parts – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh – is the only feasible solution. People of Jammu and Ladakh constitute more than half of the state’s population and inhabit more than 88 per cent of the state’s land area; they believe in Bharat and are sick of the turbulence caused by the valley strife & politics. Trifurcation will allow these people to improve their lot and limit the area of contention and strife to Kashmir Valley. We need to isolate the problem, prevent it from spreading, and then treat it in a focused manner.