By JAVEED BIN NABI
Kashmir is a disputed territory whose people are fighting for their right to self-determination in the face of almost seven decades of oppression by India. The issue of Kashmir is still hanging between India and Pakistan, all these years after they gained their independence – self determination – from the colonial British in 1947. This has brought incalculable miseries and tragedies for Kashmiris. The unresolved dispute gave birth to many insurgencies and violent storms which have destroyed many lives and property in our land.
It was the intense unrest in 2008-2010 which gave birth to the new wave of militancy in Kashmir, since a young, new generation of Kashmiris felt they had no choice but to pick up arms against the oppressor and show their resistance to onerous policies in Kashmir. The new generation of militants in Kashmir is fearless. They are somewhat different from the rebels of the 90’s. The new rebels of the Vale are symbolised by the “Burhan-led group”, what with often uploading their pictures and videos on social media. They pose with their guns, and always seem to be smiling despite knowing the very high chances of death. Indeed, they are the new face of Kashmiri history; they have become wildly popular and every rebel has his own story to tell.
Burhan, a most-wanted rebel of Kashmir and his group, are educated youngsters, including some civil engineering students, a few who did very well in exams while others are post-graduates. This is also different from some rebels of the 90’s who were less educated. Some of the latter later surrendered before the Indian army and some chose to become renegades. But a trend has changed, for example in village Hajin in Bandipora district, once the epicenter of renegades, slowly the wave changed from traitors to freedom fighters.
Now we are also witnessing everyday arrest warrants and PSAs slapped on teenage boys and many have tasted life behind bars. Whenever there is any untoward incident in Kashmir, people in Hajin come out on the streets to protest and throw stones on Indian paramilitary forces. Last year, when a youth from Sonawari was killed, and who was the sole bread-earner in his family, the people of Hajin led the protests against the Indian occupation which resulted in a spate of nocturnal raids, arrest warrants, sisters and mothers being abused and the town remained shut for several days. Such intensified oppression of Indian forces and the local police is being seen in other areas of the Valley.
There were dozens of rebels of Hajin who were killed by Indian forces, like Ali Mohammad Parray known as “Hass Maam”, Ayoub Khan son of Abdul Razaq Khan, Mohammad Shafi Mir son of Abdul Khaliq Mir, Abdul Rasheed Parray son of Mohammad Ismail Parray, Qayoom Ahmad Shalla, a graduate student of Sopore college, and Mumtaz Ahmad Parray known as “Tazza” and many others who were killed by government forces in many villages of Bandipora. They sacrificed their lives for the freedom struggle of Kashmir.
The new generation of rebels in Kashmir also seems to be conscious of other things, like not targeting the women of Kashmir for wearing jeans or trousers etc, unlike some groups in the 90’s. Broadly, the new wave of militancy has its roots in the double rape and murder of Asiya and Neelofar of Shopian, the unrest of 2008 and 2009 and the hanging of Afzal Guru. This new generation of rebels left their studies, jobs and chose the path of rebellion to liberate Kashmir.
The new generation isn’t fighting just for itself, but for those being suppressed and oppressed continuously; these rebels have rejected the life of humiliation and want to die like Maqbool Bhat of Kashmir or Umar Mukhtar of Libya. And that is because this generation has seen nothing progressive, what they instead witnessed was the rape of Kashmiri women, humiliation of youngsters and the assaulting of elders who were often beaten up publicly by Indian forces.
The funerals of those among them who are martyred are witnessing thousands of people coming from different areas to attend the procession. Every rebel in the land is loved unconditionally by people; indeed, they are heroes and living legends for the people. That is why every rebel, whether it is a foreigner or local, is patronised, praised and lauded.
From many years, we have witnessed tears whenever any rebel is killed from North Kashmir to South Kashmir. During every funeral procession of young rebels Kashmiri mothers are seen are beating their chests, and the young and old mourn them. In a recent attack at Pampore by foreign rebels, women were seen singing songs like “Sani qoum kay bahadaroo, karyo goor gooro (The bravehearts of our nation, we cherish you)”.
Undoubtedly, the young generation of rebels in Kashmir is getting more support from the common people of Kashmir. It was also seen for the first time in Kashmir’s history that a huge number of people come out at every encounter site and start pelting stones on Indian forces, trying to give the rebels a chance to escape. Recently, at Pulwama, two civilians were killed when people started stone-pelting on Indian forces and dozens were also injured at the encounter site.
To conclude, it is universally true that oppression never lasts. One day, it breaks down in one way or the other. We see people around the world, even citizens of India whether it’s at JNU or at other universities, protest against the Indian occupation in Kashmir. To an extent, the young generation in India has also realised what the Indian state is doing in Kashmir. The idea of self-determination and Azadi is rapidly spreading in India itself.
The dawn of freedom is near.
—The writer studies at the Islamic University of Science and Technology, Kashmir