By News Desk
GENEVA / ISLAMABAD—The United Nations has made Burhan Wani part of the first-ever official UN report on the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir. The release of this report coincides with Wani’s second death anniversary on July 8 and vindicates the young Kashmiri activist despite attempts to paint him as a militant and tarnish his legacy, said a Kashmir advocacy group in an official statement.
Grandly compared to freedom leaders like George Washington and Gandhi, 22-year-old Wani is now a symbol for Kashmir freedom movement and has forced Kashmir conflict back on the top international agenda after years of obscurity.
“It is time now for historians, journalists and politicians to restore the actual identity of Burhan Wani. I urge the Government of India to correct its policy, respect Wani’s legacy, and stop the annual practice of pressuring media outlets in India and in Kashmir to stop marking his anniversary,” said Ahmed Quraishi, Executive Director of YFK–International Kashmir Lobby Group (Youth Forum For Kashmir), in a statement.
Wani was killed on July 8, 2016, in what many human rights defenders see as an extrajudicial killing. The government of India insists he is a terrorist and uses two pictures of Wani in military fatigues to prove its case. But there is no evidence Wani ever participated in any armed attack anywhere. His two pictures were part of his social media activism where he often resorted to symbolism to underline resistance.
Many Indian political activists say the Indian army arrested and executed Wani on the spot without trial because of lack of any incriminating evidence against him.
Kavita Krishnan, a senior official of All-India People Welfare Association, has written that Wani’s “encounter was an extrajudicial killing,” and that “Kashmiris have a legitimate case for self-determination.”
Vikram Chandra, a popular television personality in India, has questioned the official India narrative that Wani was a militant. “There was so much hype around Burhan Wani on social media,” Chandra wrote in a tweet. “Not sure how many attacks he led, though.”
Days after Wani’s murder, an Indian magazine complained that “Media and intellectuals sympathize with terrorist Wani,” underlining the widespread impression that India killed a social media activist and wrongly dubbed him a militant commander.
“No one would support terrorists, and Kashmiris never will,” said Quraishi, adding, “Burhan Wani is just a social media activist who came to represent the sentiments of his people. His funeral was memorable and among the largest in the region. He represents educated young men and women alienated by India’s mistreatment.”
Wani’s elder brother was physically assaulted by Indian soldiers at an army checkpoint in Kashmir, and killed later.
New stories about Wani’s childhood suggest he wanted to grow up and join the Indian army. But when he became an adult, he discovered the army was occupying his land and killing his people.
Kashmir is a pending agenda item on UN Security Council. In addition to a referendum, the UN is now demanding an international investigation in Kashmir.
UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein mentions Burhan Wani in the first-ever Kashmir report released by the United Nations in June 2018.
YFK–International Kashmir Lobby Group (Youth Forum For Kashmir) is a non-partisan, international non-governmental organization, working for the peaceful resolution of Kashmir Conflict in accordance with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions.