Burhan Wani's death and a year of living dangerously

Burhan's funeral: Dangerous writing on the wall

Protesters throw stones amid tear gas smoke fired by police during a protest against the killing of Burhan Wani in Srinagar.

Protesters throw stones amid tear gas smoke fired by police during a protest against the killing of Burhan Wani in Srinagar.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

As three separate funeral prayers were held at 4.5-acre Eidgah in Tral, after failing to accommodate participants in one go, masked armed men, wailing women and feet-touching teenagers attended last rites of slain militant Burhan Wani (22) — scripting unprecedented trajectory from an online poster-boy to icon of new-age militancy.

Till late on Friday night, top security agencies deliberated on how to control the funeral procession of Wani, who was killed in an encounter on Friday in Kokernag area.

The police decided to follow the set precedence. It handed over the body of Wani to the family, unlike the killed foreign militants who are buried away in scarcely populated areas of Baramulla district, around 12 in the night.

Against the police calculations, the family decided not to bury the body in the night because of unprecedented public outpour in the area. It was around 3 p.m. on Saturday that thousands of people performed the final funeral prayers and buried him in a graveyard that houses scores of local recruits' graves.

Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani, said, “Though the public property was damaged (in the epicenter Tral), the security forces preferred to exercise maximum restraint.”

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, sources said, in her brief to the top security officials insisted “that the funeral prayers should not turn into a vicious cycle of violence at any cost.”

In fact, the security forces withdrew from Tral town to avoid direct confrontation with the crowds. “The area remained peaceful indeed because of the preparations made,” said Additional Director General of Police, CID, S.M. Sahai.

Mr. Sahai, however, added scores of funeral prayers in absentia, held across the Valley, “became the centre of violent protests.”

“Funeral prayers were a challenge. Though all known hotspots remained peaceful, it was only interiors and new fringe pockets that turned into violent processions,” Mr. Sahai added.

Militants participate

Several armed militants, who fired gun shots in the air as a mark of respect, also participated in Wani’s funeral. A number of youth were seen approaching the armed militants and several pledging to join the militancy.

Reactions

“Tum kitnay Burhan Marogay, Har ghar say Burhan niklay ga (How many Burhans will be killed, every house will give birth to one),” shouted women in the funeral prayers.

Burhan’s father, Muzaffar Wani, a government school principal, said, “It gives a sense of satisfaction that he has achieved martyrdom.”

Several villages had set up langars (community kitchen) for those who participated in the funeral.

Wani, the mastermind of social media warfare and charismatic recruiter of young local boys, was praised by Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen.

“He (Wani) infused a fresh life in the militancy in Kashmir,” said Pakistan-occupied Kashmir-based United Jehad Council chief and Hizbul Mujahideem supremo Syed Salahuddin.

Unnerved by the unprecedented public support, ADGP Sahai asked the parents “to dissuade their children from joining the militancy and taking the path of Mr. Wani.”

However, former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah had this warning: “Mark my words - Burhan's ability to recruit in to militancy from the grave will far outstrip anything he could have done on social media.”

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 9:32:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Burhans-funeral-Dangerous-writing-on-the-wall/article14481617.ece

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