Muzaffar Wani , the father of Slain Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani, whose encounter death triggered the continuing cycle of violence in Kashmir, tells TOI that his son’s dream was to join the Indian Army when he was 10 and also play cricket like Parvez Rasool – one day hopefully for India. The government school principal also rules out Pakistan’s role in Uri, Pathankot, and Pampore attacks and insists that as a teacher, he tells his students the importance of taking up “good careers” like Kashmir Administrative Service and the IAS.
Almost two months since Burhan Wani’s death, protests in Kashmir haven’t receded. Who’s responsible?
There’s no call by the Hurriyat Conference for any shutdown. We didn’t realise that these shutdowns would turn violent. We’ve lost so much in the last two months. We want some resolution. It depends on the people, how they want to look at the assurances from India or the J&K government. When my own two sons got killed, others too lost their family members.
After your son’s death, do you think Kashmiri youth should pick up guns and fight against security forces?
Of course not. The better way is a dialogue between India and Pakistan. So that there’s peace in Pakistan and also in India. All Indians are our brothers and all Pakistanis are our brothers. We Kashmiris love every Pakistani and we love every Indian.
Eighteen Indian soldiers lost their lives in Uri. Evidence points to Pakistan’s role. How do you look at it?
How can it be Pakistan? Whoever entered Kashmir after becoming a militant is a Kashmiri. Even a Muslim from Hindustan can come. It could even be an attack by Kashmiri militants.
But Pathankot probe showed there were phone calls by terrorists to their families’ handlers in Pakistan. Banned terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad released audio mocking Indian agencies.
It’s necessary to solve the Kashmir problem. Else, these attacks may happen. But we don’t know where these militants are coming from or infiltrating as the borders are sealed by the Indian forces. What is the Indian Army doing? How did the militants reach from the border to Pampore? If there is evidence (against Jaish) then investigations should be done.
How did you learn about Burhan leaving the family? What was the family’s reaction?
On October 5, 2010, Burhan left home. He told his mother he was going to meet some friends but didn’t return that evening. Then we came to know that he had joined the militants. For two months before this encounter, I tried my best to convince him. His year of birth was 1994. I told him that he was born during the peak of instability and that it was obvious that he felt the pain. When he was 10, he told an Indian Army officer that he wanted to join the Army. He said this when a raid was being conducted to search militants in our village. Burhan had a strong liking for camouflage outfits. One of his videos shows he loved cricket. He would have loved to play for India, not Pakistan.
How difficult has been Burhan’s loss to bear?
It was very difficult but we learnt to bear it. In the last five years, I met him two or three times for just around two or three minutes. The last time was two-and-half years ago. He was always on his own. I am in a government job for my family. He was working for entire J&K.
How did your other children react to their brother’s militancy?
Before Burhan my son Khalid, who is four years elder to him, was killed in April 2015 by the security forces when he’d gone for a picnic. He was tortured to death. Police believed he’d gone to meet Burhan. There was no blood on Khalid’s body. He was with this three friends, who were first arrested and later released.
Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif invoked Burhan at his UN speech.
When Bhagat Singh was fighting against the British, they called him a terrorist, but Indians maintained he was a freedom fighter. When the problem of Kashmir will be solved, India will realise Wani was a freedom fighter. I liked everything that Nawaz Sharif said. He said Burhan’s killing had brought a new light in this movement of freedom.
But Burhan in his videos instigated youths to join the war against India?
His aim was not to kill pro-Indians. He used to say those who are anti-Hizbul and police informers, will be killed. But although he was commander for two years he did not kill anybody. He was only issuing warnings. He wept when eight CRPF men had died.
Your meeting with spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravishankar was much talked about. How did it happen?
Nobody fixed that meeting. I had to visit a hospital. I thought why not stay at the ashram. I had seen Sri Sri on TV years ago. I had learnt that Dr Zakir Naik had met him. So why couldn’t I? We talked about Kashmir and he asked me about the solution. I told him that Indian leadership must talk to Pakistan. He asked me about how Burhan left us. He said it was Allah’s decree.
How do you look at PM Narendra Modi’s invoking Vajpayee’s call of Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat, and Jamhooriyat?
He is wazir-e-Azam of Hindustan. More than 100 people have been killed in Kashmir in the last two months. He hasn’t shown any grief. He only expressed grief over the killing of soldiers.
Do you fear that your third son may pick up a gun?
I am certain Naveed will not do so. He has seen his brother Burhan and has desired to study. I would want my daughter Irm Jahan, who is in college, to become a teacher.
Are you inclined to join Hurriyat Conference or any political outfit?
I have six years of service left. I don’t think I want to join a political party.
How has Burhan’s death affected your career?
I am proud to have produced many Kashmir Administrative Service and Kashmir Police Service officers. I like to give good education to kids at school where I work as an administrator and tell them they must take up excellent careers. I don’t want other parents to allege that just because my son became a militant, I want their kids to become one. I want young kids to work hard, get educated and become good.