[dropcap]Z[/dropcap]akir Rashid Bhat, the successor of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani is said to be around 22 years, was a student of civil engineering in Chandigarh before he returned to his ancestral village Noorpura in Pulwama in 2013 and joined the Hizbul Mujahideen, the only surviving Kashmir-based militant group. Zakir reportedly comes from an educated family and most of his siblings are reportedly either doctors or are pursuing MBBS. Kashmir has been witnessing turmoil for over four months since July 9, a day after Hizbul commander, Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight with the security forces.
Kashmiri as well as cross border terrorists are attacking Indian soldiers almost daily. Killing of the militants sparked protests from the locals who were demanding the ultras’ bodies. Last week, two Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants were killed in Bandipora district. On a day when General Qamar Javed Bajwa took over as Pakistan Army Chief from General Raheel Sharif, who issued a warning to India over its “aggressive stance”, terrorists attacked security forces in two separate strikes in Nagrota and Chamliyal in the Ramgarh sector of the Samba district in Jammu. The attack killed seven Army personnel and left eight security men wounded. In retaliation, Indian forces killed six terrorists. This is the first time since the September 18 Uri attack that terrorists have managed to storm into the Army camp in Jammu and Kashmir. Since Uri, the troops have successfully foiled three terror attacks in Baramulla, Langate and Pampore by killing and forcing militants to retreat. But the growing infiltration bids have also seen a higher death toll. Since, the surgical strikes by the Indian Army after the Uri attack, 25 security personnel have been killed in the last two months in Jammu and Kashmir.
While all this is going on, Wani’s successor Zakir Rashid Bhat alias “Musa” has warned the Jammu and Kashmir Police of daring consequences. Following Wani’s footsteps, Musa released a video message to J&K Police, saying that don’t harass our families, otherwise you will have to face dire consequences. Earlier, too Bhat had released a video urging the people of Kashmir to continue the agitation till the region achieves its goal of “azadi” stating how agencies are creating divide in Kashmir.
Zakir says in the video, “Indian agencies are working to create divide between the people. The house where Burhan Bhai was killed in Kokernag should not have been burnt by the enraged people.” It is wrong and should have been avoided because there was no evidence against house occupants. Neither people nor we (militant) know what actually happened there. People should have done a full background check whether the members of the said family were guilty or not. We, at our own level, are also investigating the matter, till then people should not take any step because it also creates a problem for our (militant) movement. People then accuse saying we give shelter to militant and in return people label us as traitors. It creates problems for our movement. Without any proper evidence people should refrain from doing such acts,” new Hizb commander says in the video. He also thanked people for their “support” in terms of protest.
The video has three Kalashnikov assault rifles, several books, a wireless set and a dagger placed on a shelf behind him. Zakir also has asked youths not to attend police recruitment drives. He described recruitment of special police officers, recently advertised by police, as a plot to create a divide among people in the Valley. However, the Kashmir Valley is slowly bursting into life with a large number of vehicles out on the roads, and markets, schools, offices and businesses open for the first time in the last over four months of separatist-sponsored shutdown and protests. “These people want to create an Ikhwan (counter-insurgency group) and want to make Kashmiris fight with each other. Youth should stay away from such conspiracies and not to take part in it,” he said. This is not the only video that has gone viral but Wani’s sister too is very much active on social media and YouTube circulating her message to fellow Kashmiri people. The youth has found new way of expressing their views.
Kashmir may suffer as an independent state; Indian government provide them a referendum which Jawaharlal Nehru had promised long back on whether to continue with India or remain a separate state. Pakistan can’t be expected to sit back agreeing what Kashmir’s wish. Even if Pakistan and India recognize them as an independent state, they need lot of help from its neighbours since Kashmir is landlocked; which too is nearly impossible. So, I too agree that independent Kashmir will stay as a myth. Even though, it is true that Kashmir may not have a safe future without India, but is that a reason to continue atrocious acts over them? It is obvious that Kashmiris are not happy with India’s current position in their state. We should realise that the pro-Pakistan sentiments shown by Kashmiri youth is mere protest against the Indian Union. The unemployment among youth, lack of quality education is dragging the youth to vicious circle of militancy. This issue can be addressed through dialogues, de-radicalising Kashmiri youth providing them with some fruitful projects for education and revoking AFSPA. (This is my perspective, which I don’t believe to happen in near future). The rising intolerance in Kashmir is an omen for some nearly inevitable disaster. Without proper aid from some sensible leaders, the wound in Kashmir’s heart may worsen to an irreparable fate for fellow Kashmiris. Let the unfortunate Kashmiris live in peace. Else, youth will take refuge as Mujahideens and Indian Army will get killed time and again. Somewhere the solution needs to be found.
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