Srinagar: Three months after Hizbul Mujahideen’s now-slain commander Burhan Wani circulated his last video with a threat to the police, the outfit this week circulated another 11-minute video welcoming Kashmiri Pandits back to Kashmir, warning against the police recruitment drive, and vowing to fight against India till the “dawn of azaadi”.
The messenger is Riyaz Naik, a soft-spoken militant donning combat dress, who uses poetry and Quranic verses to elaborate his ideas. With Burhan Wani’s picture and two AK rifles in background, Naik has a laptop, couple of grenades and a copy of the Quran on the table in front of his chair.
Showing concern over the plight of Kashmiri Pandits who fled the Valley in 1990s after the outbreak of militancy, Naik urges the Pandits to return. “We will welcome them warmly and there is always place for them (Pandits) in our hearts. They are a part of our nation, we are their guardians, we are not their enemies.”
The Hizb commander, however, insists that Pandits were not forced out of Kashmir by militants and alleges that it was a “conspiracy” of the then Governor, Jagmohan.
“India wants to weaken our freedom struggle by creating different conspiracies, which we will not allow,” Naik says.
Naik reiterates the Hizb’s threat to Kashmiri youth who join the police force. “They (India) want us to fight with one another. Neither India has any concern about our youths’ employment nor does it need our youth,” he says. “It is same India which martyred lakhs of our youth, made thousands of our youth lose their eyesight, and dishonoured our women. We will not forget these sacrifices and will not allow anyone to betray the sacrifices.”
He threatened, “Whosoever gets appointed as a SPO should also be ready to face the consequences.” Naik also asks the J&K policemen to stay at home and not be part of the measures aimed at containing the ongoing unrest in the Valley. “We appeal police personnel to sit at their homes like the employees of other departments are doing. The fate of the policeman who attends duty will be nothing but death.”
Speaking on the August 15 militant attack on the CRPF in Srinagar’s Nowhatta area in which its commandant Pramod Kumar was killed, Naik says, “We’re saddened to listen to the statement of his 6-year-old daughter. When she said she loved her father the most, it brought tears to my eyes. We sympathise with her.”
“We don’t want to see any child becoming an orphan, but India has forced us to take up guns by forcibly occupying our land. We did not go to kill her father at his home but her father came here to make our children orphans, deprive us of our rights and impose forced occupation on us. I want to tell her mother to come to Kashmir and see how many children have become orphans and how many mothers have become widows at the hands of the Indian forces”.
The Hizb commander threatened to kill more security forces officers and jawans. He said that India perhaps thought that after killing Wani, it will live in peace in Kashmir.
He asked people to not be saddened for the killing of Burhan Wani. “Don’t be sad over his martyrdom. Believers don’t grieve over martyrdom, they aspire for it. We are proud of his martyrdom. It has brought the struggle for freedom to such a phase that we had never imagined,” he said.
He insisted that he and others in the Hizb and other militant outfits were not terrorists but mujahideen (holy fighters). “His (Wani’s) martyrdom has proved to the world, particularly India, that we are not terrorists but true mujahideen who are fighting hard for the right to self-determination which is our innate and fundamental right.”
He sought to compare the funerals of Wani and the then Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, and says, “We want to ask India that if Burhan Wani was a terrorist, then why did India, which claims to be a democratic country, impose restrictions on social media on killing of a terrorist…If Burhan Wani was a terrorist, why did then 500,000 people participate in his funeral whereas not more than 1,000 people turned up at that of Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, whom India believed to be Kashmir’s Chief Minister? If Burhan Wani was a terrorist, then why did people of Kashmir come out on roads and why did hundreds of young men offer their lives?”