Nobody knew in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) that a 22-year-old boy will change the narrative of guerrilla warfare by mounting a challenge to the massive Indian security grid. That, too, without concealing his identity.
He appeared with his real name. Showed his presence in combat uniform from dense forests and lush green orchards in the south of IOK and ruled over the hearts of the young generation of Kashmir across the Line of Control (LoC).
The boy was born on September 19, 1994, at Dadsara village of Tral area of Pulwama in an upper middle-class family of Muzaffar Wani who named him Burhan. Both his father and mother are teachers at government schools in Tral. Burhan is survived by two young brothers and a sister.
Burhan joined the armed struggle on October 16, 2010, to avenge the humiliation when he was severely beaten by Indian troops along with his brother Khalid Muzaffar Wani, who was later killed by the Indian army in custody on April 13, 2015, for meeting Burhan in Tral forest.
Since 2011, Burhan was popular on social media as a commander of the largest indigenous Kashmiri freedom fighters organisation — Hizbul Mujahideen.
Burhan used the latest technology and the internet to promote Kashmiri cause on social media that sent shock waves across top ranks of the Indian army in New Delhi and gave sleepless nights to the New Delhi’s security establishment for more than six years.
Burhan had his own schedule of armed life. He and his colleagues used to sleep in the day and moved from one area to another at night to change their location in south Kashmir.
The pictures of their movement in forests and orchards made Burhan and his whole group famous among Kashmir’s young generation. He broke more than 20 Indian army crackdowns with the help of local people who came to rescue him while pelting security forces with stones during siege and search operations that showed the popularity and love of the people for Burhan in IOK.
Burhan was a smart Kashmiri freedom fighter with political guts and was following the line of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) to promote Kashmiris struggle.
On the issue of separate colonies for Kashmiri Pundits, who migrated from IOK to India during the 1990s on the instructions of the then Jammu and Kashmir Governor Jagmohan, Burhan issued video messages on different occasions and discouraged separate residential colonies, saying Kashmiri Pundits were part and parcel of Kashmiri culture and wherever they wanted to live they could live, showing Burhan’s mature political approach on the issue.
A soft-spoken Burhan having European features with a dashing look became the real face of Kashmiri freedom fighters since 2011 to 2016 on social media. It was only Burhan who gathered all militants in Kashmir to fight under an umbrella against illegal Indian rule in IOK.
He never used a laptop and cell phone twice for sharing and uploading images, posters and videos during his six years in armed struggle. Burhan was a good cricketer and big fan of Pakistan’s star cricketer Shahid Khan Afridi.
To arrest Burhan, the Indian army had announced one million Indian rupees bounty. It was the martyrdom of Ishfaq Majeed Wani in March in the 1990s that shook the entire IOK and after 27 years Burhan’s martyrdom gave a new life to the freedom struggle.
The Indian army along with other security agencies martyred Burhan Wani and his two colleagues — Sartaj Ahmad Sheikh and Pervaiz Ahmad Lashkari — at Bumdoora village in Kokernag area on July 8, 2016.
More than one million people gathered at Eidgah Tral and offered 40 funerals of Burhan. He was laid to rest close to the grave of his elder brother Khalid Muzaffar Wani.
Following the martyrdom of Burhan, the entire IOK was embroiled in violence beginning July 8, 2016, to February 2017. During the longest shutdown and curfew in the history of IOK to mourn the martyrdom of Burhan, clashes erupted between Indian forces and protesters in which nearly 100 people were killed, 15,000 injured and hundreds were made blind by pellet guns.
The martyrdom of Burhan by the Indian army was also highlighted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who termed him the icon of Kashmir’s young generation for the struggle of the right to self-determination at the UN General Assembly session on September 2016.