The father of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani in a recent interview with an Indian daily has said India will someday realise that his son was a “freedom fighter”.
The father of the slain youth, whose death has sparked a cycle of protest-and-crackdown in India-held Kashmir that has left more than 80 civilians dead, likens his slain son to Indian freedom fighter Bhagat Singh.
"When Bhagat Singh was fighting against the British, they called him a terrorist, but Indians maintained he was a freedom fighter. When the problem of Kashmir will be solved, India will realise Wani was a freedom fighter, Muzaffar Wani said in an interview with the Times of India (TOI).
Muzaffar Wani said he "liked everything" that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly.
"He said Burhan's killing had brought a new light in this movement of freedom," said Muzaffar Wani.
Below is the text of the interview conducted by Times of India:
After your son's death, do you think Kashmiri youth should pick up guns and fight against security forces?
Of course not. The better way is dialogue between India and Pakistan. So that there's peace in Pakistan and also in India. All Indians are our brothers and all Pakistanis are our brothers. We Kashmiris love every Pakistani and we love every Indian.
Eighteen Indian soldiers lost their lives in Uri. Evidence points at Pakistan's role. How do you look at it?
How can it be Pakistan? Whoever entered Kashmir after becoming a militant is a Kashmiri. Even a Muslim from Hindustan can come. It could even be an attack by Kashmiri militants.
But Pathankot probe showed there were phone calls by terrorists to their families' handlers in Pakistan. Banned terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad released an audio mocking Indian agencies.
It's necessary to solve the Kashmir problem. Else, these attacks may happen. But we don't know where these militants are coming from or infiltrating as the borders are sealed by the Indian forces. What is the Indian Army doing? How did the militants reach from the border to Pampore? If there is evidence (against Jaish) then investigations should be done.
How did you learn about Burhan leaving the family? What was the family's reaction?
On October 5, 2010, Burhan left home. He told his mother he was going to meet some friends but didn't return that evening. Then we came to know that he had joined the militants. For two months before this encounter, I tried my best to convince him. His year of birth was 1994. I told him that he was born during the peak of instability and that it was obvious that he felt the pain. When he was 10, he told an Indian Army officer that he wanted to join the Army. He said this when a raid was being conducted to search militants in our village. Burhan had a strong liking for camouflage outfits. One of his videos shows he loved cricket. He would have loved to play for India, not Pakistan.
Face of Kashmiri militancy
Burhan Wani had become the iconic face of militancy in his early 20s. He regularly posted video messages online dressed in military fatigues and invited young men to join the movement against Indian rule.
The killing of Burhan Wani drew tens of thousands to rise up and renew demands for freedom from Indian rule.
The son of a school headmaster was born in the southern town of Tral. He was a teenager in 2010 when his older brother was beaten to death by troops on patrol near their home. Subsequently, he joined Hizbul Mujahideen and eventually became the face of a new generation of Kashmir's militancy.
The impression about him among his fellow people was of a polite teenager who left home to become a Himalayan Robin Hood and a powerful insurgent commander.