As a matter of fact, the tensions in Kashmir has its roots in the partition of British India. With reference to the prolonged struggle of Kashmiri people, the month of July has special significance. Two events, “Kashmir Martyrs Day” and “Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan” are commemorated on 13 and 19 July respectively with zeal and zest. Martyrs’ Day is marked to pay tribute to 22 Kashmiri Muslims killed on July 13, 193 due to reckless firing by the state forces of Dogra ruler. This is the day when Kashmiris were peacefully agitating outside the central Jail Srinagar where an innocent Muslim abdul Qadeer was being tried on the charge of terrorism and inciting public against the Maharaja of Kashmir. It was the beginning of modern era Kashmir freedom struggle which has different phases including political struggle as well as Armed struggle and civilian protests.The demonstrators who lost their lives are today hailed as martyrs. After the formation of India, the state government of Jammu and Kashmir officially announced the dead as fallen heroes. However, the center-right nationalist BJP regime due to its prejudice with Kashmiris removed the day from the official holiday list of Jammu and Kashmir in December 2019.So the Indian strategy of mixing up terrorism with legitimate struggle of Kashmiri people predates India’s independence from the British raj.
The Kashmir dispute, lingering on for more than 72 years now, has resulted in three major wars between India and Pakistan. The dispute was supposed to be settled as per the UNSC resolutions but the Indian ‘pride’ has restricted any peaceful settlement of the issue. Pakistan still maintains that resolution of the dispute lies in the implementation of the UNSC resolutions. On the contrary, India has refused to abide by the international obligations of holding a free and fair plebiscite in the Jammu and Kashmir. Instead, India still maintains more than 700,000 security men in the Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir (IHJK). The Indian forces have been involved in grave human rights violations and war crimes against the population of the Kashmir valley. Continuous torture, killings of innocent civilians, draconian laws in the form of AFSPA and PSA, etc have created discontent among Kashmiris forcing them to join groups fighting against the Indian rule in the valley.
There have been many celebrated freedom fighters who shed their blood fighting against the oppressions of Indian troops in the valley. Burhan Wani, the ‘pin-up boy’ of Kashmiri separatism is a recent example who was shot dead with his two associates by Indian Special Forces July 08, 2016. In 2010, 16-year old Burhan went out with his elder brother Khalid Muzaffar Wani to take a ride in the latter’s new bike. The Indian Army soldiers intercepted them and ordered them to bring cigarettes for them. Khalid went to buy cigarettes but the Indian soldiers beat them nonetheless. Consequently, Khalid felt unconscious and his new bike was also damaged. Burhan, along with an accompanying friend, managed to run away but Burhan threatened the Indian Army officers that he is going to avenge what they did to his brother. Six months later on 16th October-ten days before his Class X annual examinations, Burhan started his campaign against the Indian security forces. Wani was popular on social media for his advocacy against Indian rule in Kashmir. He utilized the social media platform to inspire Kashmiri youth to join him. As a Kashmiri Muslim, Wani was marginalised by the dominant Hinduised space of the imagined Indian nation; his reactive masculinity directly challenged the Hindu bravado he encountered in the state-sanctioned hyper-masculinity exemplified by the Indian Armed Forces. He was one of the several Kashmiri youngsters who stood against the Indian brutality after experiencing humiliation from the occupying forces. Mistreatment of Burhan and his brother in 2010 by the Indian forces compelled him to become a part of the armed rebellion. He was an iconic freedom fighter of the renewed arms struggle against Indian forces. Following Burhan’s martyrdom, wide-scale protests took place all around the valley, which was public poll against India. In order to contain the protests, Indian forces resorted to firing on innocent civilians killing more than 60 persons and wounding over 5,500. Analysts believe that Burhan’s martyrdom will inspire more people to join the armed rebellion and will spur the renewed Kashmir freedom movement.
Burhan was part of the new generation of young and educated Kashmiri freedom fighters. He became the poster boy of Kashmir’s freedom struggle. His viral pictures and videos made him a household name in the Indian held Kashmir. According to media reports, an estimated 200,000 people attended Burhan’s funeral prayers in Tral on Saturday morning. Thousands of Kashmiris attended the funeral of Burhan Wani who chanted anti-India slogans. Pakistani flags were waved throughout the funeral procession and his body was also wrapped in Pakistani flag. The death of Burhan Wani has spurred the rebellion against Indian forces. The recent uprising in the Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IoJK) has resulted in the call for a political solution to Kashmir issue by numerous Indian politicians and analysts. The international community has also reiterated the call for solving the Kashmir issue through peaceful means. It is important for India to give a chance to the Kashmiri people to decide about their future.
Though atrocities like the Holocaust are quite rightly memorialised for their horror, the world ignores the Kashmir conflict despite its 80,000 dead, 6,000 mass and unmarked graves, and thousands of disappeared youth – post resistance of 1989. And while provocations like the execution of Maqbool Bhatt, Mohammad Afzal Guru, Burhan Muzaffar Wani and other oppressive tactics by India are still radicalising new sections of Kashmiri youth, India publicly promotes the notion of a Kashmir at peace whilst never accepting its role in human rights abuses. Kashmiris are determined to stick to their cause of freedom from India and they will again be pinching the sense of right and wrong through peaceful protests around the world to awaken the civilized world on the day of the Martyrs of Kashmir’s freedom struggle.