Sunday July 09, 2017
People in Occupied Kashmir and their supporters around the world observed the first anniversary of Burhan Wani’s martyrdom on July 8. Indian occupation troops fearing protests imposed round the clock curfew in all major cities as well as blocked all Internet services.
These, however, did not dampen the people’s spirits in Occupied Kashmir. The All Parties Hurriyet Conference leadership had called for weeklong protests throughout Kashmir. Despite the curfew, people shouted slogans from their rooftops as well as on loudspeakers from mosques.
Burhan Wani, the young charismatic Kashmiri leader who had gained immense following on the social media was martyred on July 8, 2016. While the Indian government and its pliant media chortled over their ‘success’, it proved short-lived as people poured into the streets by the hundreds of thousands to attend his funeral the following day despite a curfew. The heavily armed Indian troops shot and killed 23 people and injured hundreds of others.
The decades-long struggle of the Kashmiri people for freedom from Indian occupation had received a huge boost. It has been raging ever since. Indian troops have also resorted to using pellet guns that have permanently blinded more than 600 people while causing serious eye injury to at least 1,000 more, most of them school children.
There were protests yesterday (July 8, 2017) in several parts of Kashmir despite the curfew to mark Burhan Wani’s martyrdom anniversary. The occupation forces threw tear gas shells to disperse crowds but with little success. The army was out in full force in all major cities. And in order to prevent people’s movement between towns and cities, all motorbikes were confiscated or banned from coming onto the streets.
Burhan Wani’s house in Tral was surrounded by such a heavy contingent of troops and military vehicles that his father Muzaffar Wani could not even go to the cemetery to offer prayers at his son’s grave.
If Wani’s parents could not visit his grave, that did not prevent thousands of others from praying for the martyred soul in different parts of the state. Burhan Wani may be dead but he lives in people’s hearts. He has become a symbol of the Kashmiris’ resistance to Indian brutality, oppression and occupation.
Kashmir is the most militarize region in the world. India maintains an army of occupation of 700,000 plus hundreds of thousands of paramilitary and police forces bringing the total to nearly one million troops. In the capital city Srinagar (population one million), there are at least 300,000 troops. That means for every three civilians there is one soldier.
At every street corner in every city, there is a military bunker. Surveillance cameras are everywhere. People’s movements are constantly monitored.
The Indian army knows every male and female in Kashmir. It has also mapped every house, every bedroom and every corner of each house in Kashmir.
Despite such oppressive tactics that are designed to intimidate people, these have had exactly the opposite effect. Men and women as well as school children have joined the struggle. They have lost fear of the heavily armed troops throwing stones at them as well as armored personnel carriers whenever they see them. Such actions reflect the people’s hatred for their occupiers.
If people in Kashmir under Indian occupation could not hold large protests because of the curfew and the huge military presence, the situation in Azad (Free) Kashmir was altogether different. Thousands of people took to the streets carrying Burhan Wani’s pictures. They vowed to continue to extend every kind of help to their brethren in Occupied Kashmir.
In order to divert attention from the ongoing protests that are seen as a referendum rejecting Indian occupation, Indian troops resorted to indiscriminate firing along the Line of Control. Five civilians were killed in different parts of Azad Kashmir in such firing.
The Pakistani government lodged a strong protest with the UN as well as called Indian embassy officials in Islamabad for a dressing down at the Foreign Office.
While India has no legal, moral or political claim to Kashmir, the ongoing resistance of the people has unmasked the ugly nature of Indian occupation.