Friday July 12, 2024

Resistance in Kashmir

By our correspondents
May 30, 2017

Nearly a year ago, Indian security forces in Kashmir killed the young Hizbul Mujahideen leader, Burhan Wani, sparking protests that continue to this day. Wani became an emblem of the resistance to Indian occupation, symbolising the way the youth of Kashmir had now come to the forefront of the drive for liberation. India seems to have learned nothing since then. On Saturday, it killed Wani’s successor – Sabzar Ahmad Bhat – along with 12 others in the Kashmiri town of Tral. As expected, this extra-judicial murder led to further protests. Bhat’s funeral was attended by thousands of mourners and played out in an almost identical fashion to Wani’s. India tried to pre-empt the protesters by declaring a curfew, disrupting telephone services and shutting off access to the internet on mobile phones. Predictably, the effect it had was the opposite, as it further enraged Kashmiris who are revolting against precisely this king of control. That the funeral coincided with the first day of Ramazan only added to the sense of anger and injustice. The coffins of the victims of Indian violence were draped in Pakistani flags, and pro-independence slogans chanted. There is a now a real possibility that the freedom movement will gain even more traction and the corresponding Indian repression will become more pronounced.

India tried to justify its killing of Bhat by depicting him as an extremist militant. It is certainly true that Bhat was more rigid than Wani and that his uncompromising nature led him to threaten Hurriyat leaders. His style of leadership led top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zakir Musa quit the group two weeks ago over what he called “ideological differences”. But the reason the freedom movement is becoming more unyielding is because the Indian occupation is becoming so brutal that it leaves no other options. India had only opened up internet services a day before Bhat’s killing and the new restrictions. Even though it claims to take these actions in the name of security, for India it is all about control. As with all colonial powers, India wants to demonstrate its dominance over the Kashmiri people. It is no wonder then that Kashmiris respond in any way they can, be it throw throwing stones or marching peacefully. Yet India keeps getting away with it because the international community has nothing to say about what is happening in Kashmir. There was not a peep to be heard from any other country about Bhat’s killing, both because of India’s power and its success in labelling the resistance as the work of terrorists. India acts with impunity because it has been allowed to do so.