Burhan Wani's death and a year of living dangerously

The rise of Kashmir’s rock star ultras

Boys walk in front of closed shops during a curfew in Srinagar on Monday. —Photo: Nissar Ahmad

Boys walk in front of closed shops during a curfew in Srinagar on Monday. —Photo: Nissar Ahmad  

The rise of this new generation of militants, who do not mind posing for cameras and exploit social media, has strangely coincided with the growing fog of war in the Kashmir Valley

By most dependable accounts, there is no credible evidence to show that slain militant Burhan Wani had carried out a single operation until his death last Friday in Kokernag.

However, he played a crucial role in convincing dozens of Kashmiri youth to take up arms, reversing the steady drop in violence over some years now.

According to sources, Wani’s career mirrors those of some other key militants whom security forces have neutralised in recent years. One officer said there have been at least two other such high-profile, flamboyant, and young militant commanders who have inspired several youth to take to militancy.

Flamboyant

Many in the security establishment say the first of these flamboyant young militants was Abdullah Uni, a key Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist from Pakistan, who was known for riding around the town on motorbikes. He was reportedly the mastermind behind many major attacks, but more importantly, he had an uncanny ability to escape from encounter sites.

Official estimates show that he escaped unhurt from at least a dozen encounters. Uni was finally killed in Sopore in September 13, 2011. His successor Abu Qasim couldn’t match up to his flamboyance .

Another young militant, Sahadullah, had a similar profile among the local people, escaping cordons and encounter sites with unusual frequency.

During this period, several poorly trained local youngsters, who had taken to militancy inspired by these flamboyant militant leaders, have been killed in encounters, officials said.

The rise of this new generation of militants, who do not mind posing for cameras and exploit social media, has strangely coincided with the growing fog of war in the Kashmir Valley. The interlinking of the new-generation, high-profile militants, informers who could be playing both sides, and the loss of senior security officers are all part of a narrative that has thickened in the Valley in recent years. For example, in many of the high-profile attacks on security forces there has been specific intelligence that had enticed the troops to rush to a spot. This pattern is suspected in the killing of Col M.N. Rai, the commanding officer of a counter-insurgency unit, and Sub-Inspector Altaf Ahmad, an acclaimed Jammu and Kashmir counter-terrorism police officer, in 2015.

In both the killings, the tip-offs may have been deliberate traps, some officers suspect.

The rise of these young militants and their local cadres has helped in fuelling local support for militancy, say officers. In recent months, growing crowds have been turning up at the funerals of local militants. Burhan Wani’s funeral is but the biggest and deadliest of them all.

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
null
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 25, 2020 9:41:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/The-rise-of-Kashmir%E2%80%99s-rock-star-ultras/article14483471.ece

In Depth
Children cover their nose as they walk away from smoke shells fired by police during clashes in Srinagar on July 8, 2017.
Curfew in Valley on Wani's death anniversary
Stone-throwing in Kashmir on the wane: CRPF
Burhan anniversary forces early vacation in J&K
Cannabis plants being destroyed in Awantipora.
The anonymous addicts
The pathology of lynching
A CRPF Jawan stands guard outside the Jamia Masjid.
Police officer Mohammed Ayub Pandith lynched outside Srinagar's Jamia Masjid
Kashmir unrest
As turmoil mounts in Valley, policemen at a crossroads
Pellet guns plastic bullets
‘Plastic bullets’ sent to Kashmir
Negotiations the only option, says Geelani
On terror funding trail, NIA conducts raids on separatists
Valley unrest takes a toll on Pandits’ festival
Slain militant Burhan Wani’s successor killed in encounter
"I did not throw stones. I was kept thirsty from 10.45 a.m. till 7.30 p.m."
Fresh protests erupt in Kashmir Valley
Hizb ‘commander’ quits over ideological differences
Kashmir militants kill unarmed Kulgam Army officer on leave
IS, al-Qaeda have no role in Kashmir: separatists
More locals take to militancy in Kashmir Valley
Kashmir’s unending tragedy
J&K suspends 22 social media sites
Women students join anti-police protests in Srinagar
Srinagar, where campuses simmer with anger and anxiety
A grab from the video, purportedly shot in Budgam on April 9, showing a youth tied to an Army vehicle.
Army uses civilian as  shield, sparks outrage
Only 2% turnout recorded in Srinagar
Bypolls in Kashmir: A prolonged protest
It’s school time again in Valley
Tral in a trance over young Shaheera Akhtar’s 498/500
Wani’s kin not paid compensation
J&K suffered Rs 16,000 cr loss during Kashmir unrest
A pellet victim undergoing treatment in SMHS Hospital in Srinagar.
J&K govt. announces ex gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh to kin of deceased in 2016 unrest
Hope becomes the biggest casualty in restive Jammu and Kashmir
A year of living dangerously
The new abnormal in Kashmir
Kashmir Valley back to life after shutdown
‘All pass’ for 9 lakh students in Valley
Students take exams amid shutdown in Valley
Army launches ‘School Chalo’ operation in South Kashmir
Amnesty slams burning of schools in Valley
More than a hundred days later
In 100 days, India’s facade crumbled: Geelani
Gun-snatching in Valley worries Army
Forebodings come true in Valley’s season of violence
3,000 more soldiers deployed in Valley
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti address a press conference in Srinagar on Thursday. Photo: Nissar Ahmad
Rajnath promises alternative to pellet guns, says he is willing to talk to all
Junaid undergoing treatment in Srinagar on Sunday after being hit by pellets in the chest. Photo: Nissar Ahmad
14% of pellet gun victims in Kashmir are below 15
A ‘Kashmir Ki Kali’ poster wakes world to pellet blind spot
A morphed image of Shah Rukh Khan.
‘Pellet-hit’ images of leaders and stars go viral in Valley
Newspapers in Kashmir refuse to publish
Last week, about 2,800 CRPF troops were sent to the State. Photo: Nissar Ahmad
Centre rushes 2,000 additional troops to Kashmir
The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea for Governor’s rule in the strife-ridden State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Behind the rage in south Kashmir
Mehbooba govt. gags media, blocks cable TV
Women too bear the brunt of pellet guns
J&K Education Minister Naeem Akhtar. File photo
Will relook into circumstances leading to Burhan’s killing: J&K govt.
A woman requests a policeman cross the road in Srinagar on Tuesday. A curfew remained in place in most parts of Kashmir for the fourth consecutive day as authorities struggled to contain protests following the killing of top militant commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani. Photo: Nissar Ahmad
Living in denial on Kashmir
A woman and her daughter cross a deserted bridge in Srinagar on Tuesday.
Restrictions are still in force in most parts of the Kashmir Valley after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
PM asks security forces in J&K to exercise absolute restraint
Calming the Valley
You are reading
Boys walk in front of closed shops during a curfew in Srinagar on Monday. —Photo: Nissar Ahmad
The rise of Kashmir’s rock star ultras
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. File photo.
Sharif attacks India after Opposition ire
An injured man at the SMHS hospital in Srinagar on Sunday. — Photo: Nissar Ahmad
19 men injured by pellets may lose vision
Burhan's funeral: Dangerous writing on the wall
Securitymen patrol a deserted street at Maisuma area in Srinagar on Saturday. Photo: Nissar Bhat
Burhan Wani killing: Amarnath Yatra suspended
Stone pelting incidents were reported from many areas of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. Photo: Nissar Ahmad
Wani’s death triggers fury, 11 killed, 200 hurt in Kashmir
Screenshot from a video of Burhan Wani, commander of terror group Hizbul Mujahideen.
Burhan Wani, Hizbul poster boy, killed in encounter
Screenshot from a video of Burhan Wani, commander of terror group Hizbul Mujahideen.
Amarnath pilgrims won’t be harmed: Hizbul
These young militants are selfie buffs and trendy
Next Story