Why Are More Educated Youth Turning Militants

Kakpora (Pulwama): Talib Afzal Shah, a terrorist for Indian security forces and a rebel for Kashmiris, was killed by (Govt.) forces in Kakpora area of Pulwama district.

Talib, a youth in his 20s, held double post-graduate degrees but frequent summons to police stations and night raids left Talib’s dream of getting a job and normal life short lived as he joined militant ranks in 2014.

According to reports, Talib along with another accomplice, on Thursday afternoon had gone to meet his family in Astan Mohalla, Kakpora. With inputs about presence of alledged militants, police and army zeroed on the house and laid a siege, which ensued an encounter between the two sides killing Talib, whereas other militant managed to give slip to the se-curity forces.

Talib Afzal Shah was born to Shamasudin Shah and Jawhara Begum in a highly educated middle class Kashmiri family. His mother is working as a government teacher and father as an employee in roads and building department. Talib’s brother works as a doctor while sister is studying nursing.

One Friday, the day had started much earlier in Kakpora town than usual. The town was quiet with a dead silence surrounding the lush green meadows, which encircle Kakapora, one of the tehsils of the Pulwama district.

As one entered the town, it became quite visible from the shutter-downed shops and the pale turned faces of people that a deep antagon-ism is running in the town against the killing of Talib by Indian security forces. Huge gathering in the form of processions from nearby villages are entering the playground of Government Higher Secondary School, Kakpora, where Talib’s body has been kept.

Speeches of local religious leaders rent the air. They explain how youths are being killed by Indian security forces while fighting for which they call a “noble cause of freedom of Kashmir from clutches of India.” On the other side of ground, women, amid wails and sobs wait to catch a glimpse of Talib, whom they refer as “the hero of motherland – Kashmir.”

Suddenly, some women stood up and started sloganeering: “Hum Kya Chahate, Azadi! Hum Cheen ke lenge, Azadi!” and all women started marching towards the railway bridge. It was followed by a huge proces-sions of youths. The police resorted to intense tear gas shelling, pellet guns and aerial firing to stop the protesting people which led to minor and major injuries to at least 20 people. Two injured persons, hit by bul-lets, were referred to SKIMS at Srinagar for specialized treatment.

Amid protests, people went back to the ground where funeral of the slain militant was going to take place. As the funeral got over, the elders of Talib’s locality started discussing how Talib, once a university going youth with bright career, was forced to pick up the gun.

“During mass uprising of 2008 and 2010, like everyone in the town, Talib used to join the protest demonstrations. Later police registered FIR against him for which he was frequently summoned to nearest police stations and SOG camps where he was humiliated. For successive two years post 2010, Talib was harassed and a reign of terror was put on him. Even if I had met with such enormous harassment, I too would have ended up being a militant, despite my old age. Then one day, Talib disappeared from his home and joined the militant organistaion LeT,” Ghulam Hassan, 50, a social activist, who is one of Talib’s neighbour in Astan Mohallah Kakpora told TwoCircles.net

After continuous harassment, Talib had made his mind that why not die once instead of dying every day, recalled Asif Ahmed, who was once Ta-lib’s close friend. “He had studied outside the state. And had two post graduate degrees – in Physical Education and History – to his credit but continued police harassment ended up Talib joining the militancy rank. As he was dying every day so he decided to choose the path of martyr-dom,” Ahmed told TwoCircle.net.

Another local Tanveer Ahmed, 28, a private school teacher, appealed the people outside Kashmir to desist from using word terrorist for Kashmiri youths joining militancy. “It’s not terrorism. It is a war for freedom. So these youths should be called as martyrs. Our basic rights are being vi-olated every day here in Kashmir. We don’t want India development agenda here in Kashmir, we just want our land back which was falsely taken from us in 1947,” Tanveer said and added that Talib was tortured inside police stations and “police usually used to take jibes at him by calling him a terrorist so he ended up one not as terrorist but a mujahid, who died fighting for his people.”

Talib’s mothers was inconsolable and repeatedly blamed police harass-ment as the reason for his son joining militant ranks. “In between 2011 to 2014, Talib was arrested several times on charges of stone-pelting and even after his release, the security forces used to raid our house sometimes in day and sometimes at nights, always looking for him. He finally decided to join Lashkar-e-Toiba to emancipate himself from this continuous oppressive measures of police,” said Jawhara, his mother. —TwoCircles.net 

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