ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Kashmir: Memories Speak

The recent popular upsurge led by Kashmiri youth against the state is organically connected with traumatic memories of oppression. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain their mental preparation to “exhibit acts of open defiance” at risk to their lives and to “face down bullets with stones”. It is quite remarkable that thousands of people, including women and teenagers, congregated to mourn the killing of the Kashmiri militant, Burhan Wani, and joined his funeral procession. Reportedly, several villages had set up community kitchens for those who participated in the funeral. In fact, Wani has emerged as the new icon for azaadi in Kashmir. To put it in the words of the former Chief Minister of Kashmir and National Conference leader, Omar Abdullah: “Burhan’s ability to recruit into militancy from the grave will far outstrip anything he could have done on social media”.

The centrality of a leader in popular movements is a common phenomenon. What is unique in Kashmir is the iconic status attained by a militant that emerged out of his martyrdom. The traumatic memories of diverse types of violence perpetrated by the state against the people, such as extrajudicial executions, custodial deaths, custodial torture, rapes, and enforced disappearances, played a big role in the birth of the present popular resistance in Kashmir and the rise of Wani as a popular icon in the azaadi movement.

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