Kashmir Struggle: Brains versus Brawn

Nilloofar Qureshi
January 14, 2018 OPINION 329 Views
Kashmir Struggle: Brains versus Brawn

News of research scholar Manan Bashir Wani having joined the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) has taken everyone by surprise. The distraught family members of Wani haven’t yet been able to reconcile with what’s happened and are fervently hoping that he rescinds his decision and returns home. However, the HM is celebrating Wani joining their ranks as is evident from HM supremo Syed Salahuddin’s remark that “The entry of Abdul Manan Wani of Tekipora Lolab, Kupwara, exposes the Indian propaganda that youth of Kashmir are joining militant ranks due to unemployment and economic distress.” And developing further on this theme, he went on to add, “A PhD scholar’s voluntarily joining the armed struggle gives ample proof that Kashmiri youth believes that final settlement of Kashmir lies in armed struggle.”
While Wani’s decision of literally throwing away the pen and picking up the sword is something that doesn’t happen quite often, yet it is in no way unprecedented. Readers would recall that HM militant Azar-ud-din Khan alias “Ghazi Umar” hailing from Trusso Kandi in Kupwara who was killed in an encounter at Amargarh village in Sopore during February last year was not only a PhD in Arabic but also held a post graduate degree in Kashmiri. Thus, though by picking up the gun Wani may have given the HM something to boast about but for the Hizb supremo to declare that this incident is “ample proof that Kashmiri youth believes that final settlement of Kashmir lies in armed struggle” may not be in the best interests of the ongoing movement for ‘right to self determination’ as this viewpoint outrightly consigns the UN resolutions on Kashmir to the garbage!
There is no doubt that an unusually large number of Kashmiri youth have joined militancy after HM commander Burhan Wani’s death in an encounter with security forces. However, it’s also a fact that an unprecedented number of militants (39 according to army chief Gen Bipin Rawat) have also surrendered during this period. Thus, it may not be prudent for the HM to try and draw inferences from isolated incidents like Aligarh Muslim University research scholar Wani joining the HM as it gives New Delhi the opportunity to completely change the narrative by using the same strategy. The HM should remember that while portraying Wani’s decision to join militancy as proof of Kashmiri youths’ collective belief that armed struggle is the sole means of attaining ‘self determination’ doesn’t serve its interests in any way, it nevertheless helps New Delhi in maligning the ‘armed struggle’.
By using the same line of argument as that of the HM in Wani’s case, New Delhi can quote examples of footballer Majid Khan who joined and subsequently quit the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) as well as those militants who surrendered during encounters as “ample proof” of the Kashmiri youths’ outright rejection of militancy! The HM knows very well that its claim of Kashmiri youth only having faith in the ‘armed struggle’ won’t result in the international community according legitimacy to militancy. Therefore, overplaying the incident of a PhD scholar joining its ranks unfortunately gives an impression that the HM is perhaps suffering from a deep rooted sense of insecurity, even though this may not be the case. And that’s why the HM needs to be very careful while issuing statements.
As per newspaper reports, security forces apprehend that the HM will use the highly educated and academic award winner Wani as a poster boy for their recruitment drive. However, how successful will he be in attracting the youth or taking the ‘armed struggle’ to the next level is debatable since despite being a PhD scholar and sharing his surname with Burhan, Manan lacks the charisma of his surname sake! Moreover, while Manan Bashir Wani has proved his worth when it comes to wielding the ‘pen’, his splendid academic experience will unfortunately not be of much use when it comes to using the ‘sword’ since this requires a medieval, if not antiquated, mindset. And it is here that Wani’s emancipated mindset may ultimately prove to be a serious disadvantage!
I don’t endorse the ‘armed struggle’ simply because I’m convinced that this is an absolutely impractical idea that is only bleeding our youth. Yet I don’t disapprove of Wani’s decision to join the HM since I am in full agreement with German-American author, political cartoonist, poet, animator, book publisher and artist Dr Seuss’s viewpoint that “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.” Yet, I would still like to politely caution Wani that even though he may be exceptionally intelligent and mentally alert, he would have to serve alongside those who may not necessarily match his intellect level. And this becomes an issue of very serious concern because being completely unaccustomed with the primal tenets that govern militancy, Wani will have no other option but to rely on comrades with a much lower IQ and limited experience for his safety.
So, without any intention of unduly scaring or demoralising him, I would just like caution Brother Wani to tread very-very cautiously since he knows very well where that the path chosen by him ultimately leads to. And even though I detest drawing similarities, but when something concerns the safety of one of our own brother, I don’t mind making an exception. HM militant Dr (PhD) ‘Gazi Umar’ was killed when the vehicle in which he was traveling with an aide was intercepted by the security forces. Rumours are rife that that the highly educated and intelligent ‘Ghazi Umar’ had expressed apprehensions about the reckless idea of travelling in a vehicle on a route having multiple security check posts. However, his aide is believed to have convinced ‘Ghazi Umar’ that since the security forces were complacent, it was safe to travel and thus the highly educated HM militant and his overconfident aide attained martyrdom without even inflicting a scratch on the security forces!
Tailpiece: Nelson Mandela made a very pertinent point when he said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” However, since Manan Bashir Wani has voluntarily chosen to ‘speak’ with the gun rather than ‘fight’ for ‘self determination’ with his pen, it is apparent that he doesn’t quite agree with what Mandela believed in. And only time will tell whether the decision of this scholar to turn into a soldier was right!

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