General officer commanding of Army’s Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lieutenant General JS Sandhu, has told a local daily that “family background of militancy in some cases” was one of the possible reasons why youth join militancy in Kashmir.
“Burhan’s brother Khalid was killed and then Burhan decided to pick up gun,” he was quoted by the daily as saying on the sidelines of an “informal chat organised by the army with journalists at Badami Bagh Cantonment.”
The fact, however, is that Burhan Wani joined the militant ranks in 2010, five years before his brother Khalid Muzaffar Wani was killed by the army in Tral.
In the summer of 2010, accompanied by a friend, Burhan went out with his brother Khalid on the latter’s new bike in Tral. The friend told Greater Kashmir newspaper, that they were intercepted on their way by a group of Special Operations Group (SOG) personnel who ordered the teenagers to buy them cigarettes.
The trio was beaten up even after Khalid returned with the cigarettes.
“It was our routine to go up and down on the streets of Tral. Khalid (Burhan’s brother) loved his bike like anything. Khalid went to get cigarettes for the SOG men. When he returned and we started to leave, the policemen and the paramilitary forces pounced on us. Khalid fell unconscious while Burhan and I escaped. They damaged the bike. At a distance from the policemen, Burhan shouted: ‘I will avenge this beating,’” the newspaper had quoted Burhan’s friend as saying in a report published soon after Burhan’s killing last year.
“Friends close to Burhan in school say he was only “looking for the right moment” to join the militants after the incident. Six months later, Burhan, then Class X student, left his home and joined the Hizbul Mujahideen ranks,” the report said.
Khalid Wani, Burhan’s elder brother, was killed by the army in April 2015 in Tral, when, according to his family members, he was going for a picnic.
Muzaffar Wani, Khalid’s father, had told Scroll.in that his son was tortured and killed in the custody of the forces.
“Khalid’s teeth were broken.There was no bullet mark on his body. His head was hit by some object,” he was quoted as saying by the website.
Police, however, said that Khalid was an OGW, who was recruiting fresh militants into the Burhan group, a claim refuted by his family. Khalid, 25, was pursuing masters in political science through Indira Gandhi Open University.
Ironically, in December 2016, the government had listed Khalid Wani among those whose family would be provided ex gratia relief in a notice issued by deputy commissioner district Pulwama.
The list rebutted the army’s claim that Khalid was killed in an encounter along with a militant, as the ex gratia relief is paid only to civilians.
Later, in January 2017, the government said that the family of Khalid Wani was provided with no ex gratia relief.
The government revealed in the Assembly that “no compensation has been paid to the family of Burhan Wani”, the Hindu reported.