Tral: Burhan Wani showed the way and it is up to the people to continue resistance now, said the iconic militant commander’s father, Muzaffar Wani.
At 7 in the morning, people are already arriving at Muzaffar’s home in Tral. A small tent has been erected in the courtyard to receive visitors. Large boards with Burhan’s pictures greet them at the gate.
When his elder son, Khalid Wani, was killed last year, people visited him for months. The extended Wani clan has eight ‘martyrs’.
Surprised at the scale of pro-Burhan protests, Muzaffar said, “I thought there would be protests in south Kashmir only but the outpouring of support has been beyond my expectations. While the state blocked roads, people came via forests, streams.”
“This is the time to enter into a decisive mode. If India wants…,” said Muzaffar. But before he could finish the sentence, his father Ghulam Ahmad Wani interrupted: “India has taken the decision. They are sending 2000 more soldiers.”
Muzaffar said it would be selfish on his part to suggest people what they should do.
“My two sons have attained martyrdom. I am satisfied. I can’t give suggestions,” he told Kashmir Reader.
He said he was overwhelmed by the support his son received from the people. “Burhan sahib had a narrow escape at least six times when he was caught in cordons. I thank people who gave him food and shelter during all these years. The people who saw him but never informed on him,” he said.
Muzaffar reads the post-Burhan uprising as a “message to India that people vote for roads not to undermine Tehreek (freedom struggle)”.
“The uprising should open eyes of India. Killing innocent people will not serve anything. We are not enemies of India but I fail to understand why they kill us,” said Muzaffar, a school principal. The poise is surprising for a father who lost two sons within a span of 15 months.
A Difficult Journey
Muzaffar last saw Burhan two years ago. He said he didn’t want to become the cause of his son’s death because government agencies were keeping a watch on his every action. Except for office, mosque and his in-laws’ place, he didn’t go anywhere. Muzaffar’s phone had been seized by the police after Burhan released his last video on June 7.
The Wani residence at Sharifabad was being watched by government forces every day from morning to evening.
Beating of Khalid and Burhan by troops, Muzaffar said, was not the only reason why his son picked up arms.
“He was inclined towards militancy because Azadi is the biggest reason. But that beating hastened his decision to pick up arms,” he said.
At first, the father realised the ‘kid’ (Burhan was 15 when he joined militancy in 2010) will return and didn’t file the missing report.
When he did later, the police were angry. Soon, the persecution of Wani family will become routine.
The home was raided every 15 to 20 days, sometimes twice a day. Whenever a foreign dignitary visited India, Muzaffar and Khalid would be called to police station and detained. Similar detentions occurred during election time, India’s Republic Day and Independence Day.
Detentions spread to the full length of multi-phase elections. As principal, although he was not supposed to, Muzaffar would mark ‘leave’ on these days. Sometimes, the father was taken to the infamous Cargo centre in Srinagar and the son detained at Awantipora/Tral police stations. As a punishment for his son’s act, Muzaffar was transferred to Shopian for two years. A court decided in his favour after two-and-a half years. Relatives avoided Wani residence.
Muzaffar’s brother-in-law, who was visiting his sister, was detained once following a firing incident in Pampore.
“The police would tell me make him surrender even if you have to drug him. They made emotional statements about how I would lose my son,” he said.
“But the more they oppressed me the more I became sympathetic to my son’s cause. They even tortured Khalid’s friend.”
Asked if more youth would take to Burhan’s path, a chorus of people in the tent said, “They already have.”