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Making of a militant
By Javed Matjee, Srinagar

Militant outfits have been recruiting militants in Kashmir. However, government agencies are equally responsible for turning youths into militants. The twelve-year span of militancy in the state has witnessed hundreds of instances where the attitude of government, its agencies and officials pushed innocent youth to take the road to violence. The latest instance being that of the recently killed Hizbul Mujahdeen (HM) militant Mustafa Khan. The 22-year-old militant, alongwith two of his associates, lost his life in an encounter with the army and para-military forces last week. Identified as Muhammad Mustafa, the said militant is said to have joined militant ranks after a renegade commander Mumma Kena molested Mustafa’s mother. This, according to locals, jolted Mustafa’s mind and heart and he went across the line of control (LoC) for arms training. It is believed that Mustafa, who joined the ranks of HM, became a major challenge for informers and surrendered militants. He is reported to have killed about 25 surrenderers as well as informers during his two-years activity as a militant in the valley. Though official circles here held Mustafa responsible for a number of attacks on the armed forces, the surrendered militants are said to have suffered the most at the hands of the slain militant. Locals say that the deceased commander killed all his preys in broad daylight and none of them was killed in the dark. It is also said that Mustafa was a class nine student when renegade militants attacked his mother. He is said to have acted as the youngest commander of the outfit. According to one of his erstwhile classmates, Shakil Ahmad, Mustafa was brilliant in his studies and his classmates used to seek guidance from him. ‘ We do not remember a single occasion when he missed any salat,’ says her aunt, who was one of the hundreds of women who assembled at the residence of the slain militant to mourn his death. The HM spokesman admitted that Mustafa’s death was a big loss to his outfit. Officials share the same view with different words saying that the killing of Mustafa was a big jolt for the HM. Mustafa and two of his companions were caught in a cordon-and-search operation (popularly known as ‘crackdown’) by the army and BSF during the intervening night of 29-30 July at Goiegam in Magam about 25 kms from Srinagar. Officials said that the three were holed up inside the shrine of Hazrat Syed Muhammad Ali Bukhari, where they had taken refuge after being cordoned by the forces. The standoff continued for about 16 hours, which ultimately resulted in the bloody ‘encounter.’ The gunfight left all the three militants dead and an army officer critically injured. HM alleged that Indian troops forced the militants out of the shrine by using poisonous gas and killed them in the shrine compound. More than 50000 people participated in the janaza prayers and funeral procession of Commander Mustafa. Senior Jamat-e Islami leader, Muhammad Ashraf Sahraee, led the janaza prayers. People paid tributes to the slain commander by rising anti-India and pro- Islam and pro-freedom slogans.

According to reports, the slain militant was quite popular in the area which was evident by the presence of more than one lakh (one hundred thousand) people in his funeral and the fourth-day ceremony. It is believed that people looked at Mustafa as a rebel against suppression. Locals could not hide their sympathies with Mustafa and came out to the streets in thousands.

The impact of the events and policies pushing people to militancy has been very hard in Kashmir and people at the helm of affairs must learn some lessons from Mustafa’s case.
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