Kashmir has been witness to worst human disasters- killing of almost an entire generation (directly and indirectly), countless unmarked graves, turning the land of hoors into a garden of half widows, orphaning thousands of innocent full of dreams kids, blinding tens of thousands youths, raping of women which includes the notorious incident of Kunan Poshpora which will always remain a blot on the map of India.
India has been a nefarious oppressor, there’s not a peck of doubt in that. We have suffered too much, nobody can justify the war crimes India has perpetrated in the valley of tears. We, however, remained steadfast all the time. In 90’s Kashmiris picked up guns and took up the path of violence in an attempt to free themselves from this painful slavery which had encroached our lives, it was a pious struggle recognized by the entire world as a movement for the right to self determination. Kashmir was on boil and the light of freedom was almost in sight, one could feel the rays of freedom warming up our souls, India that time played a dirty trick and armed renegades who sent a wave of fear throughout Kashmir and everybody was shaken to core by their arrival. Kashmir struggle was hijacked. But who were those renegades? They were Kashmiris! We had given into to avarice. Finally, rebels were made to eat dust and that intifada died down. We were supposed to learn from that, we didn’t. unfortunately! There was second coming of intifada, this time it was not bullets but stones which proved more harmful to the Indian state than bullets of 90’s. 2008 was second coming of nu-age rebels who relied on logic, reason and unity (which was proven otherwise in the next decade). Such was the intensity of 2008-2010 intifada that India was almost willing to propose autonomy status to J&K. Some conclusions were always obvious, you could never steer Kashmiris away from political affiliations, be it an old man praising Mufti Sahab for his Modi style unfulfilled promises, or a college student flattered by the flamboyance of Omar Abdullah. You can still see many guys on twitter who despite being pro-freedom are trying to get replies from Omar Abdullah in order to satisfy their fanboy moments. This continued for 2010 too, as people thronged polling booths and voted for their favorite murderers despite continuous boycott calls by Hurriyat leaders. They literally walked over the moist graves of their brothers, the blood was still fresh on the streets. Tragedy is that in the end the entire blame was put on Hurriyat leaders. Life went on normally but the oppression of 2008,2010 had sown the seeds of hatred deep within, it was claimed by many analysts during that time itself that Kashmir would be bracing for another gun driven intifada which proved to be true with the emergence of Burhan Wani, commander of Hizbul Mujahideen (hereafter, HM). HM was popular as a democratic, somewhat secular rebel group whose basic aim was to liberate Kashmir and it is still true to its basic aim even today. They do have their doses of mistakes once in a while which is completely okay as we are aware of the chaos Kashmir is into right now. Everybody sensed the arrival of militancy back in Kashmir as news of someone killed somewhere became a regular headline in newspapers. Burhan released tapes calling for an end to the occupation of Kashmir. He reiterated his support to Hurriyat and thus everything was going on as a normal struggle for right to self determination should go on.
ISIS came in like a hurricane, nobody estimated the effect it was going to have on Kashmir issue and barely anyone knew one day it’d prove to be more harmful than the renegades of 90s. One could see ISIS videos on the internet, it was a regular on every news channel, newspaper and magazine. Some Kashmiris were lured by their sweet sounding yet poisonous idea of caliphate and were inspired by their ideology. It spread like wildfire not just in Kashmir but all around the globe. You could see grown up people talking hysterically about these lunatics clad in black carrying flag of Islam without even considering the activities they were propagating. I have seen little kids making those crazy black masks and imitating beheading scenes of ISIS terrorists. Soon, it made its way into Kashmir protests, among the sea of green flags you could see couple of black flags (I have written a blog post in which I have defended these crazy dopey people by saying that they have grim existence in Kashmir, well I was proven wrong). That time too it wasn’t thought that one day they’ll have hijacked the entire struggle of Kashmir. Every Friday in almost every mosque you could hear the long-bearded cleric condemning ISIS with the harshest of words.
As long as Burhan was still alive, nobody dared to change the course of this movement, though he was very young but still his maturity was way beyond lunatics of today who flaunt killings as if they have brought a dead son back to his ailing mother. He was martyred in 2016, and I would regard that year as the year Kashmir changed forever, for good as well as bad. Rebel groups split, we now have 100 groups with 100 insignificant aims which are barely connected to the political side of Kashmir intifada.
One thing worth mentioning here is the inception of Zakir Musa as the head of ISIS in Kashmir. His flamboyance and texture was similar to that of Burhan and he managed to polarize the population of Kashmir into two groups viz Pro-freedom and the other the ISIS group ( the ones who have this utopia that Kashmir will become a darul-islam). His famous tape where he threatened to hang Gelani and Mirwaiz in the middle of Lal Chowk for their secular and pro-Pakistan views, this tape worked wonders for him as the population was already fed up of Hurriyat for their ineffectiveness with respect to handling of Kashmir issue and he managed to brainwash a lot of innocent kids into ISIS ideology. With all this happening in the span of one-year Kashmir is now moving towards becoming another Syria – owing to the polarization which has taken place in Kashmir. Everybody has an affiliation now. Everybody is bound to die. People are no longer into political solution of Kashmir issue, some don’t want a resolution at all, they want an Islamic caliphate, some want BJP rule, some are still going old-school and are still waiting for Omar Abdullah and Co. to give them autonomy. The real cause has ignorantly lost the plot. Kashmir is a battlefield in making. Unfortunately, it would be the most beautiful battlefield.
The Curious Case Of Essa Fazili-
Who was Essa Fazili? I won’t have to bang my head on this one. He’s a student of Burn Hall who later was doing his engineering from Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University Rajouri. He got into this ISIS thing and it’s not rocket science, he did join a terrorist organization. It doesn’t matter how or who made him do this, he was an adult who had a mind of his own capable of taking decisions. He died in a gunfight along with his two other companions. The real chaos took place there, one could see in his funeral there were way too many black (read ISIS) flag all over the place, with a couple of Pakistani flags too. The thing is why did we glorify him? He was not fighting for freedom, he wasn’t calling for a political solution to Kashmir issue? Some may argue he joined ISIS to liberate Kashmir, but he could have joined some other rebel faction who are calling for political solution to Kashmir issue. Right after hearing about his death, my heart sank. Knowing that he was a year or two elder to me and I was shocked to the core at the news of his death but the moment I came to know he was an ISIS operative I calmed myself down and immediately I tweeted this.
Surely, he is not my martyr. Yeah, I am shocked over his death but why should I glorify someone who has pledged allegiance to a terrorist organization. That makes me similar to the oppressor, there is no difference between me and the oppressor then. What’s more shocking is the reaction of blue-tick (read activists from Kashmir) holders of Kashmir twitter. They are supposed to be liberal and peace loving who I expected would tweet sense but instead they also took his death as an opportunity to carry forward their agenda. Some nonresident Kashmiris didn’t stay back either- they glorified his death despite knowing the fact that he was of ISIS faction. There was this girl to whom I showed all the pictures of him wearing ISIS t-shirts and flaunting with still in front of ISIS flag but still she didn’t accept the fact that he belonged to ISIS. How low can we go? Just because we are fighting against a cruel oppressor doesn’t mean we should stay silent over the other oppression which we ourselves are perpetrating. It’s to be noted that Essa had left home without the permission of his parents and his mother was moving hither dither just to get him back. Damn! This is the not the freedom I’m fighting for, this is not the way it’s fought. Our mothers have suffered a lot, we can’t bear to see them losing their sons anymore. You can’t even blame India here. He had joined ISIS by choice. Also, there’s this magazine from Kashmir which recently ran a story on their website titled – “The Art of propaganda” where they argue that all this ISIS thingy is the work of Indian agencies, who are leaving no stone unturned to delegitimize this struggle. Agreed, some of it might be true but at the same time you can’t ignore the fact that all these ISIS guys are known faces- they are Kashmiris. Our children are wearing ISIS flags on their faces, we no longer shout “We Want Freedom”- which is a very legitimate slogan. Also, there are many Kashmiri journalists who kind of acted irresponsibly, they despite knowing the truth and gravity of the situation still glorified Essa. Really? What were you even thinking? Don’t play over the future for Kashmir for your twitter points. Kashmir is bracing for the worst ever situation and you are the ones who would we have pinned our hopes on, but you are the ones bringing in your personal problems to win arguments and not worry about the consequences of your actions. We have lost many people to this conflict, but we can’t anymore now. We have reached our threshold. This needs to stop. For this we need to not give into hysterics and condemn all those people who take up this path instead of glorifying them.
Yeah, mourn his death but please don’t romanticize him. Today if you romanticize him tomorrow it might be your own little kid with a gun in his hand running out of his house to fulfill his utopian promise of Darul-Islam. The next day he will be clad in black flags and people would be calling him either a terrorist, a Pak sympathizer or an Indian agent. But nobody would be calling him a Kashmiri who died.