Sons of slain militants choosing path of their fathers

Villagers attend funeral prayers of four of the six militants of Ansar-ul-Ghazwat- ul- Hind, an offshoot of ISIS, who were killed in an encounter with army at Trall, in Pulwama on Dec. 22, 2018. (PTI File Photo)

Three among 250 odd militants, who were killed in Kashmir last year were sons of those ultras who died during the 90’s while fighting with the army.

Ishfaq Ahmad Wani, a post-graduate in business administration, who was killed on December 28 in a brief gunfight with security forces in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, was son of Mohammad Yousuf Wani, a top commander of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen outfit, who was killed on 31 August 1996.

After finishing Master of Business Administration (MBA) in 2015, he worked with ICICI Bank for a year before quitting to start fruit business. However, on 28 July 2017 Ishfaq’s gun-wielding photograph appeared on social media. For the last few years, this has been a signature style of youth announcing that they have joined the militants. 

However, his romance with militancy lasted just over five months as he was killed last week leaving behind his mother, stepfather, three brothers and one sister. His devasted mother Rafiqa says she “why her son left a luxurious life and choose a short life.”

“He was never arrested by forces before he joined militancy. I moved from pillar to post since the day my son went missing but failed to change his decision despite requesting all militant organisations to allow Ishfaq to return home,” she said. 

“I know what I have done for his studies as I took a lot of pains to finance his studies as Ishfaq's father was also a militant killed before 22 years,” Rafiqa rued.

Like Ishfaq, Nawaz Ahmad Wagay from Reban village of Shopian district, who was killed by the army on 11 November 2018, was also the son of a slain militant and a masters’ degree holder. He had joined Al-Badr militant outfit last year and had taken the same route to announce his joining like Ishfaq.

Belonging to a well-off family, his father Ghulam Qadir Wagay, a militant was killed in 1996. Nawaz was just two-years-old when his father was killed. Before joining militancy, he was arrested several times by the police for having “contact with militants.” 

Liyaqat Munir Wani of Belo village in Pulwama had completed his graduation in History with 92% marks before he chose the same path as his father had in the 90’s. And like his father, the son too was killed on November 11 in a gunfight with forces at Takin village of Pulwama. Liyaqat, who had joined the Hizbul in January 2017, was just two-years-old when his father Munir Wani, alias ‘Colonel’ Jameel was killed allegedly in a fake encounter in 1998.

A senior police officer blames the prolonged conflict in Kashmir for pushing sons of slain militants taking up the gun and creating a “martyrdom cult.”  “Earlier all those who died in Kashmir died for ‘Azadi’. Now young boys are being told if they are killed after becoming militants, they will get reward of it from Allah,” he said.

“And in this process, sons and close relatives of those militants, who were active in 90’s are becoming soft targets for militant outfits,” the officer revealed.

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