‘Poster boy Burhan Wani’s death major setback to militancy in Kashmir’

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Srinagar, July 8 (IANS) Burhan Wani, who was killed in a gunfight in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Friday, had abandoned his studies to join the militant ranks when he was just 15 years old, with his example prompting many local youth to follow suit, and his death will be a major setback to militancy, said sources.

The 22-year-old had become an icon of militancy in the Valley during the last 18 months.

Son of a school teacher belonging to Tral town in Pulwama district, Burhan Muzaffar Wani was good at studies and his teachers expected him to do well in life. When Kashmiri youth were looking for a career in the coveted civil services, he had joined the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) outfit in 2010.

The Kashmir Valley was on the boil during that period because of unending clashes between stone-pelting mobs and security forces. As many as 110 youths died in violent clashes with the security forces in 2010 when mobs indulged in arson and bloody clashes which brought the Valley to a standstill for over four months.

Wani’s joining militancy acted as a shot in the arm of waning militancy in the Valley.

It is believed many local boys especially those belonging to south Kashmir areas were influenced by his example to join militancy.

Over the last 18 months, he released a number of videos in which he appealed local boys to come forward and join militant ranks.

Wani had opposed setting up of settlements for migrant Pandits in the Valley and also Sainik Colonies.

Through videos posted on the social media, he threatened local policemen to stay away from anti-militancy operations.

It was for this poster boy image that the security forces had announced a reward of Rs 1 million on his head.

The other two guerrillas killed with him on Friday by the security forces in Bamdoora (Kokarnag) village include Mosum Shah of the same village who belonged to HM and Sartaj of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. Sartaj belonged to Serigufwara village of Anantnag district.

Troops of counter insurgency Rashtriya Rifles, special operators group (SOG) of the state police and CRPF carried out the operation in Bamdoora (Kokarnag) village on actionable information about Wani’s presence there on Friday, senior police officers said here.

The authorities are now busy addressing the law and order fallout of his death as a large number of locals could attend his burial after the body is handed to the family.

Curfew has already been imposed in his native Pulwama district and authorities are mulling similar steps in Srinagar on Saturday.

–IANS

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