On the first death anniversary of his son, Muzaffar Ahmad Wani talks to Kashmir Reader correspondent Zia-ul-Haq about the situation in Kashmir after his younger son Burhan’s killing.
Kashmir Reader (KR): For how long people visited you after the killing of your son, Burhan Wani, last year?
Muzaffar Wani (MW): As you know, a sea of people attended his funeral prayers despite the strict curfew across Kashmir. After his burial, people for several months continued to throng my residence in thousands to express solidarity. As the months passed, the number of people visiting me for condolences dipped to hundreds and then to dozens. But I can tell you that people visited me throughout the year even from parts of Jammu like Rajouri, Kishtwar and Doda.
KR: Were you expecting such a massive presence of people at Burhan’s funeral?
MW: No, I had never expected so. I was expecting that a shutdown will be observed in south Kashmir and there will be protests in downtown Srinagar and other sensitive areas of the south. But it really turned out to be something I had never expected.
KR: How do you see the situation that has arisen after Burhan’s killing?
MW: I believe that nothing happens without Allah’s will. For the Indian state Burhan was a terrorist, but for people of Kashmir he died as a martyr, a hero. If you ask me, I can only say that I lost my son. The Azadi movement in Kashmir had become lifeless. Allah wanted to give new life to it and He gave it in the form of Burhan.
KR: How do you see the phenomenon of more and more youth, even the educated ones, joining militant ranks after Burhan’s killing?
MW: See, there is this lava that has been accumulating in the heart of every Kashmiri since 1947. This lava has started erupting now. In 1987, the rigging of elections triggered the armed struggle. Now Burhan’s martyrdom has worked as a spark.
KR: It is said that Burhan joined militant ranks to take revenge of the humiliation he faced at the hands of government forces. Do you think that he picked up the gun to avenge that humiliation, or did he choose the path out of conviction?
MW: As I told you, the lava that has been accumulating within every Kashmiri, old or young, due to the broken promises of India coupled with its oppression, has begun to erupt. When you are harassed, beaten, jailed and humiliated, this lava within the youngsters erupts and they choose to fight with guns in their hands. Burhan saw children like Tufail Mattoo being killed with books in their hand and other forms of oppression being committed on people. Later when he himself experienced it, he chose to fight against it. Besides Burhan, my three cousins died fighting this oppression.
KR: After Burhan’s killing, pro-freedom leaders also came under one umbrella. How do you see their unity?
MW: As I said, God is the best planner and knower of things. Whatever happened after Burhan sahab’s martyrdom was the will of Allah.
KR: When Burhan was alive, you, many a time stated that the span of militant’s life is six to seven years and that you were waiting to receive his body. But how did the killing of your elder son by the army affect you?
MW: Burhan had picked up the gun and I had made up my mind to receive his dead body any time. But Khalid’s killing was really disturbing. He had left home for a picnic in the morning and in the evening he returned dead. More painful to see were the severe injury marks on his body, even on his face, due to the harsh beating.
KR: Army later claimed that he was an over ground worker (OGW) and that he had gone to meet his brother in the forests?
MW: I have been stating since the day that my son was innocent and was murdered in cold blood. The government later announced compensation for him which proved my claim right. Had he been an over ground worker, the government would not have approved compensation in his favour.
KR: After the government approved compensation for Khalid, you rejected it. But you had said you will accept a job if offered to your lone younger son?
MW: I still stand by my statement that I won’t accept the monetary compensation but will accept a job for my son, if given. When any innocent is killed, a government job is the right of the next of his kin.
KR: Militants are being killed almost on daily basis. Do you think the gun is going to solve the issue?
MW: It pains me to see young boys losing their lives but I believe the blood of martyrs, be it of Burhan or Ishfaq Majid or any other, will not go waste and will bear fruit one day. We must not lose hope as it amounts to kufr. But we must remember that the greater the oppression, the more the success is nearer.
KR: Are you planning to organise any programme on your son’s first anniversary?
MW: No, I will not. As I told you, for me Burhan died as a son and I remember him every day. His anniversary is no special day for me to remember him. Yes, people may remember him on his anniversary as for them he died as a hero. But I have no plan to organise or take part in any programme organised by anyone to remember him. If any program is organised in Tral, my name should not be attached to it.
KR: Do you have any message for the local or the Indian leadership?
MW: I am not any leader to suggest anything to anyone. But yes, as a common man I would like to appeal to the civil society of India to convince its leadership to solve the Kashmir issue on humanitarian grounds. Killings are not going to benefit anyone.