The Legitimate Desk Scholar
On Thursday morning beeps on the mobiles of police officials in Valley stated buzzing with breaking news, PhD Scholar, Manan Wani who had joined militant ranks was killed after ten months of joining the ranks in one of the villages of his native district Kupwara.
The officials, however, kept this very important news under wraps though some officials leaked the news. Within hours, hundreds of villagers gathered in the house of Manan Wani at Tekipora Lolab which is hemmed by beautiful Kail and Pine forests.
They (villagers) too were eagerly waiting for the news and many were praying that news about Wani should turn into a rumour, like it happened in the past many times.
From Wani’s native village around 35 kilometres away at Shatgam an encounter was in progress in which two militants were engaged with the forces comprising police, army and the CRPF. Around 9 am, the government decided to close down educational institutions and also blocked the internet in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district which was an indication that some big commander was either killed or trapped.
Initially, the police vehemently denied any commander was trapped in Handwara. And many started believing the police as in the past since joining of militancy many times rumours spread that scholar Manan Wani was trapped however, it always turned to be wrong news. At Tekipora, every villager was praying that this news should turn false.
However, this time it was not just a rumour but the rushing of additional troops towards native village of Manan Wani was an indication something big had happened with Wani. By afternoon the operation was concluded and two militants were killed, but police didn’t release names of the militants.
At Tikipora curiosity grew with villagers and family members of Manan Wani, unlike other militants or commanders who used to call their home during the encounter Manan didn’t call his family, so they had no idea about him.
The first indication about Manan’s killing came by afternoon when some of the relatives were contacted by police and local army and asked them to collect the body of Manan who was killed along with his associate in Handwara.
It was in January when PhD scholar left Aligarh Muslim University to join militancy. Nobody knows the exact reason for why he joined militancy; however his family and friends claim that hanging of Afzal Guru and some incidents of atrocities became the reason why he took this extreme decision which even surprised his father who is lecturer of Urdu.
As per the family, Manan had no touch with them in these months though police and army were regularly calling his father to police station and camps. Even during past two weeks, Manan’s father was called to camps and Police stations and informed that he was in north Kashmir.
After joining militancy many people on the social media had requested militant commanders to assign him some non military task as he was not a trained militant but a scholar who could have proved an asset for them.
However as per the information on social media, Wani participated several meetings with top Hizb commander to devise strategy for the militancy and adopted a militant life.
Some sources say that Wani was assigned a task to strengthen base of militants in north Kashmir and for the purpose he used to travel between South Kashmir and north Kashmir which finally ended in his killing.
During his stint with militants, Manan Wani wrote two detailed pieces in which he explained his decision of joining militancy and the context of militancy in Kashmir, however the media was barred from publishing those articles by police.
Even a case was registered against a news portal for uploading the letter. However, the portal later deleted contents of that letter.
On his death Hurriyat chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq called killing of Wani a tragic loss…. ‘Alas! Heard the tragic news of #MananWani’s Martyrdom and of his associates! Deeply pained that we lost a budding intellectual and writer like him, fighting for the cause of self-determination.”
Even mainstream politicians rued loss of Manan to the conflict. Former J&K chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti said that political parties should realize the gravity of the situation as Phd scholar chose death over life.
“Today a PhD scholar chose death over life & was killed in an encounter. His death is entirely our loss as we are losing young educated boys every day. It is high time that all the political parties in the country realise the gravity of this situation and try to facilitate a solution through dialogue with all the stake holders including Pakistan to end this bloodshed.’’
With Wani gone, many analysts feel that his killing could have been avoided had government tried to engage with him when he started writing articles why he picked the gun. “The article was an opening of communication.
The government should have engaged him through writing to make him understand that he had selected wrong path. Unfortunately here also they used military tactic to kill a scholar which could be dangerous,” a senior journalist said.
The killing of Wani is a message for government to ponder why educated youths are leaving their lucrative career and prefer to die by taking gun. Wani is the second research scholar who was killed in an encounter. Earlier another scholar Mohammad Rafiq was killed only a day after taking the path of militancy.
Even those youths who could have contributed through pen and other means are now taking towards gun which is becoming a dangerous trend which could have far reaching consequences.
Time has come when New Delhi should realise that situation in Kashmir is going from bad to worse and it needs to take corrective steps.
Even now leaders who have full faith in the mainstream ideology are losing faith and there is vast distance which needs to be bridged. And recent local body polls are an eye opener in which less than 8 percent people in Valley cast their votes which shows that gap is widening between people of Kashmir and New Delhi.
In absence of a government, the new Governor Satya Pal Malik has a hard task especially when there is a sword hanging on the article 35A in the Supreme Court.
If the situation is not tackled politically, the state could further plunge into darkness and more and more violent incidents could take place.
Already, the graph of the violence has increased in past two days and if steps are not taken immediately, things could go out of control. So time has come when people at the helm of affairs should read the writings on the wall and save young educated men from perishing or dying in encounters.