The killing of the Al Badr commander Zeenat-ul-Islam has come as a setback to the ongoing militancy in the Valley. He was one of the most prominent militant commanders in the Valley who preceded even Burhan Wani and had, according to security agencies, been instrumental in drawing local youth to militancy. Though he had initially joined Lashkar-e-Toiba, he switched over to Al-Badr in November 2015 and played a role in reviving it.
As was expected, his funeral generated massive mourning. Thousands of people participated in multiple funerals. This despite the fact that the forces had blocked all roads leading to his native village Sugan to limit the number of mourners. At least eleven civilians were injured after the forces fired live ammunition and pellets at the protesters.
Will this one more killing of a high profile militant make any difference to the situation in Kashmir. Unlikely. As the situation of the past three decades testifies, the killings of the militants have neither deterred more youth from joining the militancy nor ushered Kashmir back to peace. And nor, if this long duration is any guide, will it in future. Burhan Wani will continue to be succeeded by the likes of Sabzar, Saddam, Naveed Jatt, Zeenat-ul-Islam and by Riyaz Naikoo. The militancy and the state s response to it will go on. True, the state tackles the unfolding violence institutionally, so will not tire of it, but this unrelenting state of affairs is taking a disastrous toll on the people of the state, our new and the future generation. The most rational and effective response to the lingering turmoil is to address the factors which keep it going. But this is something that is and has been last on the minds of the ruling leadership of this country.
There is little hope for the future. As the situation of the past three decades proves, even the harshest use of the force has done little to address the lingering turmoil in the state. Looking at the growing trend of the public mobilizations during encounters and militant killings from a security-only perspective is to miss the wood for the trees. The point is how can you threaten with tough action a people who march to the encounter sites, conscious of the consequences they might face as a result. This is hardly going to deter them. For example, the killings of Islam and his aide at Yaripora, Kulgam and the injuries to eleven protesting civilians will not prevent public mobilizations during firefights and funerals. If anything is going to pre-empt them, it is an empathetic understanding of the anger and sentiment sweeping the Valley and a meaningful political engagement to address it.
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