Map of South Kashmir: Tral is ground zero for the new militancy

This is the only headstone with English letters: “Shaheed Muhammad Burhan ud Din Wani.” Died at the age of 22, the tablet tells Bemdoora, kokernag July 8, 2016.

He was the son of Muzafar Wani. He had lived in Shareef Abad Tral. He is buried in the town of Tral, a few kilometers from his house. Tral is a green area of the Pulwama district in southern Kashmir, with orchards leading to wooded hills and glassy streams.

It is here that the earliest tales Hizbul commander Mujahideen of Burhan Wani emerged. The way he was off with his older brother, Khalid, one day the security forces stopped and were beaten.

How he had been promised to fight the Indian army and then went home at age 15. How, five years later, Khalid had started with biryani to meet his brother in the woods, only to be killed. The army said it was a field worker from a radical group.

Last year, as news of the meeting that killed Burhan has spread in the valley, a multitude of remote towns and villages rushed to Tral for his funeral. For the new militancy in Kashmir Tral is zero ground.

In the rain one afternoon in June, the city of Tral like any other South Kashmir. This is the month Ramzan kept fasting and daily rhythms are slower.

The old men kneel in the tents while the women are sailing in the inspection of the goods. The shops along the alleys of the market sell everything from crispy chicken to water pipes with burkas.

Tral is vigilant. Newcomers to the main bus stand are properly considered and there are few people on the market. But all the other buildings of the school of the daughter of the Government to the water tank, affirm that it is “the city of Burhanz”. Almost a year after the death of the Hizbul commander, the graffiti were erased more steps, but the letters are still discernible.

Few people in the market talk to strangers. But Bilal Ahmed, a gay and ugly man who owns a store selling carpet and cushions and sunglasses as a journalist, asks clients questions.

Burhan Wani is more than a name in this city, almost everyone has personal relationships with him or family. His father, Muzafar Wani, is very popular. “Burhan’s father was in the city, he was a teacher at the primary school tral,” said Ahmed.

In a house near the market, one of the classmates Burhan Wani remembers a ‘Sharif (decent) boy who had no inclination for activism.

“When we learned that we had taken up arms, we were surprised that it was not,” he said. “The day before, he was preparing for his exams, but he did not write them.”

On the day of the Burhan burial, the city welcomed the rest of the valley. “For all the people who passed, we fed ourselves – water, bananas, everything we had at home,” Ahmed said.

A businessman who had just obtained a batch of products has been fed back to visitors. Hundreds of thousands of people attended the Eidgah service that day, according to Ahmed. The road to Eidgah near the market to the main bus station was closed.

“The security forces were intelligent, they had no place in the market,” Ahmed said. “It’s always the norm. Every time something happens, they have troops deployed to the bus station and near the camp [at the point of entry into the city], but not entering the market or elsewhere.”

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