MUZAFFARABAD: Rallies and meetings will be held across Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Monday to renew allegiance to the ongoing freedom struggle in India-held Kashmir (IHK) on the occasion of third martyrdom anniversary of Burhan Muzaffar Wani, an iconic young mujahid commander.
Mr Wani, who was chief of operations in Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest and mainly indigenous fighter group in IHK, was martyred by the Indian army along with two other colleagues during an alleged encounter in Bamdoora village of southern Kashmir’s Kokernag area on July 8, 2016.
The son of a school headmaster, Mr Wani had become the iconic face of armed struggle in IHK since 2011. Dressed in military fatigues and holding assault guns, he would regularly post video messages on social media sites and invite young men to join anti-India struggle.
In the wake of his martyrdom, the held territory underwent the longest ever curfew of more than 100 days during which scores of people were mercilessly killed and injured by the occupation forces while trying in vain to suppress massive anti-India protest demonstrations.
Contrary to New Delhi’s assumptions, Mr Wani’s elimination was believed to have revitalised the popular anti-India movement with the inclusion of hundreds of educated youngsters.
To mark his martyrdom anniversary on Monday, Jamaat-i-Islami AJK would hold a big public meeting on an open space along the bustling Bank Road here, with Liaqat Baloch, deputy chief of JI Pakistan, as the key speaker.
“The meeting is not just aimed at paying tributes to Mr Wani and other martyrs, in fact it will focus on the ill-treatment of the Kashmiris’ unprecedented struggle by the present PTI-led government in Pakistan,” said JI AJK leader Shaikh Aqeelur Rehman, while inviting media persons on Sunday for coverage.
“We want to remind the Pakistani rulers that Kashmiris are fighting your war… They need solid support at this do-or-die stage of their heroic struggle against a tyrant country; empty rhetoric and wordiness is of no use to them,” he said.
The JI leader alleged that Pakistan had not only shut offices of pro-freedom organisations, including that of the indigenous Hizbul Mujahideen, it was also arresting people associated with this movement.
“If you are unable to support them, let it be known to them explicitly.”
Earlier in the day, activists of Pasban-i-Hurriyat Jammu Kashmir (PHJK), an organisation of post-1990 migrants from IHK, would march from a roundabout near press club to Bank Road.
“We will mark his martyrdom anniversary as a resistance day,” said PHJK chief Uzair Ahmed Ghazali.
Separately, the AJK government would also hold a function at the press club to mark the anniversary.
AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider was scheduled to address the officially sponsored function in Muzaffarabad, but his press secretary Raja Wasim Khan told reporters that he would now be addressing a function in this regard in Islamabad under the aegis of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference.
In a message on the eve of the anniversary, Mr Haider said Mr Wani was a valorous young leader whose martyrdom had given fresh impetus to the liberation struggle of his nation.
The AJK premier also paid tributes to IHK-based pro-freedom leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik, Shabbir Ahmed Shah, Asiya Andrabi, Zafar Akbar Bhat and others, with an assurance that they were not alone in this just struggle; their brethren in AJK were with them.
“Not just we in Azad Kashmir but the people in Gilgit-Baltistan along with the entire Pakistani nation stand by you in this crucial phase of our common cause.”
“Burhan Wani has become a symbol of Kashmir liberation struggle. Let us pledge on the day of his anniversary that we will spare no efforts in carrying on his mission until its success,” he said.
Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2019