Funeral of Aqib Molvi

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Yet another encounter in South Kashmir, this time in Tral, has unfolded by now  a predictable spectacle: a massive public mobilization triggered by the encounter  followed by a large funeral for the killed militant Aqib Molvi. The mobilizations during the encounter are geared to free the militants from the security cordon and the funerals that follow are a show of an uninhibited mass support. Kashmir has been a witness to this state of affairs for the past some years. In fact, it is this situation which led to the turmoil last year.  The successive funerals had built up a massive pent-up anger that boiled over when the popular militant commander Burhan Wani was killed in July last.  Nearly a hundred youth were killed, several hundred blinded and thousands injured in the following six months of unrest. 

But far from helping curb the public show of support for the militants and Kashmir’s Azadi, the disproportionate use of force has only turned people  more rebellious. Mourners for the slain militants have grown with each new funeral. The streets have continued to seethe with a combination of an intense fury and hatred at New Delhi. What is more, the increase in the frequency in the killings of the militants has hardly acted as a deterrent. Around thirty militants have been killed since January. But this hasn’t dampened the new generation’s fascination with jihad.  Instead, as attested by the security agencies, more youth are joining the militant ranks. And when they are tracked down by the security forces, more people are willing to put their lives on line to save them.  And after they get killed  in encounters, thousands turn out to attend the funeral prayers. 

A viral video from Aqib Molvi’s funeral at Tral brings this reality home. Multiple  funerals were held for him after the prayer ground fell short for the massive gathering of the people. The body was also placed on a platform for people to catch his final glimpse. The scenes like these prove that nothing has changed in Valley since Burhan’s death and its violent fallout. In fact, if the situation is not handled with care, the Valley seems ripe for another summer of unrest as is widely apprehended.  But as the recent Ministry of Home Affairs report and the authorization of more pellet guns for the CRPF proves, the centre’s only response to the situation is to use more force.   After a feeble attempt at a political engagement in the first weeks of the unrest, New Delhi has given up all pretence of any outreach. No political engagement has been initiated with the representatives of the pro-freedom sentiment even after the unrest wound down in December. For BJP, the priority is the ongoing elections in the five states including the all-important polls in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.  Similarly, the engagement with Pakistan is unlikely to restore anytime soon. This has created a fraught situation which can take a dangerous turn if no efforts  are made to address and engage with it. One hopes that after state elections, New Delhi will change its approach to Kashmir. 

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