When Abdul Kareem's body reached his village at Langate in North Kashmir, the residents visited his house in a spontaneous outpouring of grief. Later, the people from the adjacent villages also joined the mourning and followed the coffin in a massive funeral procession to the graveyard. No, Kareem was not a militant but a police man killed by the militants. Massive funerals for the militants in Kashmir are taken for granted but not for the security personnel. But the funeral of Kareem has come as a surprising exception. More so, after a five month long uprising which broke out following the killing of the popular militant commander Burhan Wani.on July 8. The fierce protests over the course of five months led to the killing of nearly a hundred people, blinding of several hundred and the injury to thousands.
Over the past several years, one worrying factor for the security establishment has been the ever-growing number of the people attending the militant funerals. Each funeral touches off an outpouring of emotion and grief, leading to a groundswell of support for the militancy. And each funeral inspires more youth to take up gun. And each funeral thus spawns many more future funerals. On the contrary, attending the funeral of a security personnel is a taboo in Kashmir. Rarely have people participated in large numbers in the funeral of a local police or Army man, associating him with the state government apparatus which is generally seen as oppressive, corrupt and anti-people.
But as the funeral of Kareem was passing through the village, one could easily mistake it for the funeral of a militant. Leading the procession was the Engineer Abdur Rasheed, the local legislator, known for championing the resolution of Kashmir . As the Assembly session began today in Jammu, Rasheed staged a sit-in outside the Assembly demanding plebiscite in Kashmir under the auspices of United Nations. Speaking at the funeral, however, Rasheed said that “a corpse was a corpse and murder was a murder”. He said according to Islam the murder of one person “was the murder of the entire humanity,” trying hard to keep his speech within the confines of political correctness. Kareem was killed after he intercepted a group of militants at a checkpoint in Kupwara and this, according to the reigning political discourse in Valley made him unworthy of a well-attended funeral, a fact of life for his colleagues in Kashmir.
However, Kareem’s funeral hardly signals some kind of a shift in Kashmir – It could rather be the result of his local standing among his fellow villagers, who must have known him very closely. However it is of a piece with some odd contradictions in the behaviour of the people in the state, one of them being the overwhelming participation in the polls fresh from an Azadi groundswell. However, such contradictions hardly count when compared to the ferocity of the intermittent uprisings and how people are ready to throw everything at the struggle for resolution of Kashmir. The just-ended unrest is a case in point.