Burhan Wani

Coordinates: 33°54′14″N 75°05′06″W / 33.904°N 75.085°W / 33.904; -75.085
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Burhan Wani
Burhan Wani.jpg
Dadasara, Tral, Pulwama district, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Died8 July 2016(2016-07-08) (aged 21) [2] or 22[3])
Bumdoora, Kokernag, Anantnag district, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Tral, Jammu and Kashmir
33°54′14″N 75°05′06″W / 33.904°N 75.085°W / 33.904; -75.085
AllegianceHizbul Mujahideen[4][5][6]
Battles/warsKashmir conflict

Burhan Wani (19 September 1994 – 8 July 2016) was a commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, an Islamist militant organization and insurgent group of the Kashmir conflict.[a] He had become a popular figure amongst the local Kashmiri populace, having done so primarily through a strong social media presence, and was responsible for moulding the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir into a youth-oriented movement. Wani was a militant leader and had reportedly recruited numerous foot-soldiers through his personal efforts.[10]

As a popular militant, Wani was actively sought by Indian security forces, who had imposed a bounty for his capture. He was located in a remote village in the Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir and subsequently killed in a firefight with Indian forces on 8 July 2016. Wani's killing sparked massive protests across the entire Kashmir Valley[7][11][12][13] in what became the worst span of unrest in the region since the 2010 unrest.[14][15] As a result, Indian-administered Kashmir was placed under 53 consecutive days of curfew, which was fully lifted by 31 August 2016.[16][17][18] The protests that followed Wani's killing resulted in the deaths of more than 96 people[19] and injuries to over 15,000 civilians and 4,000 Indian security personnel.[20][21]


Wani was born in 1994 in Dadasara, a village situated on the outskirts of the town of Tral in the Pulwama district of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, to Muzaffar Ahmad Wani, the principal of a public higher-secondary school, and Maimoona Muzaffar, a postgraduate of science who taught Quran classes in her village.[22] He had four siblings.[23][24][22][25] The town of TraI has been a perpetual militant hotbed of hardline separatism.[26]

Wani planned to be a doctor and had obtained more than 90% marks in his Class 8 exam[27] but left his home on 16 October 2010, ten days before his secondary exam and enrolled for the militant cause at about an age of 15, joining Hizbul Mujahideen.[28][7] His family claims that the root of his disillusion with Indian state apparatus laid in an incident in the last summer, whence state police allegedly beat him up, along with his brother Khalid and a friend for no fault of theirs, after asking them to purchase cigarettes for them.[29][26][22] Burhan's cousins were already involved with the militant movement since about 2008, and had joined Hizbul Mujahideen in 2010.[26]

Burhan Wani used social-media as a tool of potent information-warfare[b] leveraging "a clever mix of ideology, religion and a deep sense of persecution"[26] in chaste Kashmiri to romanticize the militant movement and wielded unforeseen influence in the local populace as a poster-boy, attracting numerous young adults into the cause.[26][30][31] He oft-elaborated about the idea of India being entirely incompatible with Islam thus mandating a destruction at any cost, and aimed of unfurling the flag of Islam on Delhi's Red Fort.[27] In 2013 Burhan's notability as a mujahid was further boosted, after he was erroneously described as being killed, across social media.[32]

There was a remarkable increase in the anti-India rhetoric of Burhan's speeches, after his brother Khalid was killed by the Indian Army on 13 April 2015 when he went to meet him (Burhan), along with three friends. The army claimed that Khalid was a militant sympathizer who had taken his friends to get them recruited and was subsequently killed in an encounter. The family of Khalid however alleged that he died in custody, claiming that his body showed no bullet wounds but clinical signs of physical torture.[33][26][34] The three friends of Khalid meanwhile escaped but ran into an army cordon, where they alleged being tortured before being rescued by the state police.[26]

In August 2015, the state government imposed a bounty of 10,00,000 on Burhan's head.[30] In another report, The Diplomat claimed that Burhan had $1500 bounty on him.[35] A Facebook post about a month back showing Burhan along with 10 other militants in militant attire with heavy arms had gone viral in Kashmir.[22] The videos however continued, with him urging people to take up arms against the state and refusing to collaborate with Indian elements.[36][31] Police have often approached the judiciary, for enacting bans on social networking pages that disseminated Burhan's messages.[27] In a video released in June 2016, he assured the Amarnath pilgrims of a safe passage[37] but had threatened to attack proposed resettlement colonies for Kashmiri Pandits, in opposition to an Israel-like solution, and colonies for armed forces. He also urged the state-police to stay out of their way, threatening to attack all security forces.[37] Although no attack has ever been traced back to him, he is believed to have masterminded several of them.[25]


Burhan Wani was killed in an antiinsurgency operation on 8 July 2016 along with two other militants, later identified as Sartaj Ahmad Sheikh and Pervaiz Ahmad Lashkari. He and his companions were killed in Bumdoora village in Kokernag area by a joint team of the special operations group of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and 19 Rashtriya Rifles.[38][39][40] Security forces later stated that the operation had actually begun on 7 June when Burhan, along with his companions, had come to Kokernag in order to procure weapons.[41] Some army and police officials later said that the security forces had received intelligence regarding the presence of Sheikh but did not know Wani too was present along with him.[42] The state's Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and the Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Kumar Singh also stated that the security forces were unaware of his presence and would have given him a chance had they known about his presence there.[43][44]

According to police officials, the security forces faced resistance from locals who resorted to stone-pelting. The encounter began at 16:30 and ended at 18:15. The militants were hiding in a house during the operation and started firing on the troops conducting search operations. All three were killed in the ensuing encounter. Jammu and Kashmir Police's Director General K. Rajendra confirmed that Wani was killed in an exchange of fire between security personnel and the militants.[38][39][40]

The local residents denied awareness of Wani's presence in the village. According to them, the police arrived around noon and said that they were combing the area in preparation for an inauguration by the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. They cordoned off the area by 16:00 and took positions around the house where Burhan and his associates were present. When the militants tried to come out and escape, they were shot down. After their death, hundreds of villagers came out mourning the death and clashed with the police, CRPF and attacked army camps in the area.[45] He is believed to have been succeeded by Sabzar Bhat,[46][47] who was also killed by Indian security forces shortly afterwards.


A large crowd attended his funeral on 9 July. The crowd was estimated to number 200,000 and was described by reporters as the largest ever gathering.[48][49][50] The last rite prayers were also performed in absentia in all major towns of Kashmir.[51] His body wrapped in the flag of Pakistan was buried next to that of his brother Khalid in Tral.[24] Militants were also present at his funeral and offered him a three-volley salute.[52]

After the news of his death spread, violent protests erupted in some areas of Kashmir Valley.[53] Separatist leaders called for shutdown in Kashmir which was repeatedly extended before being called off in February 2017.[39][54] Police stations and security forces were attacked by mobs. Stone pelting was reported from many parts in Kashmir,[55][56] including upon transit camps of Kashmiri Pandits. Internet services along with train services were suspended and the national highway was shut down. The Amarnath pilgrimage was repeatedly resumed and suspended due to the unrest.[57][58][59][60][61] More than 200 Kashmiri Pandit employees fled the transit camps during night time on 12 July due to the attacks by protesters on the camps.[62][63] The house where Burhan was killed was set ablaze by a mob on suspicion that its residents had tipped-off the security forces about Burhan.[2] Curfew was imposed in all districts of Kashmir on 15 July and mobile phone networks were suspended.[64] The curfew was lifted from all parts on 31 August 2016.[16][17][18] More than 90 people died in the unrest[65][66][67][68] and over 15,000 civilians were injured.[20] Indian security forces reportedly used assault rifles to open fire on protestors.[69] Over 4,000 security personnel were also injured during the unrest.[21]

Peoples Democratic Party leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig alleged that the standard operating procedure had not been followed during the encounter involving Wani and his accomplices. Baig demanded that a commission be appointed to probe Wani's killing.[70] Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh refused, stating that it was an anti-terrorist operation and there was no need for an inquiry.[71]

A day after Wani's death former Chief Minister of state Omar Abdullah said that his killing had made him the new icon of the disaffected section of the Kashmiri society and further warned that more Kashmiris will join the militancy after his death.[72] On 12 July, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a statement expressed "shock" over the killing of Burhan Wani[73] which was criticised by the Indian government.[74] Sharif called Wani a "martyr" on 15 July. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs in response criticized Pakistan for "glorifying" terrorists belonging to proscribed terrorist organisations.[75] Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticised the media alleging it was portraying the slain Wani as a hero.[76] Pakistan's Ambassador to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi during meeting with UN officials raised the killing of Wani describing it as an "assassination of a Kashmiri youth leader".[77] During his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on 21 September, Sharif described Burhan Wani as a "young leader" who had emerged as a symbol of the latest "Kashmiri Intifada".[78]

His family was allowed to be given ex-gratia compensation of ₹4,00,000 by the Jammu and Kashmir government in December 2016 for the controversial killing of his older brother Khalid. This led to protest by opposition parties[79] as well as Bharatiya Janta Party.[80] Chief Minister Mufti denied on 18 January 2017 that any compensation had been paid.[81]


In July 2017, Pakistan Today praised Wani and compared his death to the death of Che Guevara, stating "History repeats itself".[82]

On the Pakistani independence day in August 2017, Wani was featured on a special train named Azadi Train which was organised by Pakistan Railways in the memory of the country's national heroes.[83]

The journalist Asif Sultan was arrested in August 2019, after having written a piece titled "The Rise of Burhan Wani".[84]

Zulkaif Riaz published a biograph of Wani in September 2020, titled Burhan Muzaffar Wani.[85] [86]

Wani became the face of the Kashmir independence movement,[87] and was also compared with Bhagat Singh.[88][89][90]

Wani had released a group photo on 1 July 2015 of himself seated with ten other militants, all armed and dressed in army fatigues, which went viral. The militants in the photo were Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, Waseem Malla, Naseer Ahmad Pandit, Ishfaq Hameed, Tariq Ahmad Pandit, Afaaquallah Bhat, Adil Ahmad Khanday, Saddam Padder, Waseem Ahmad Shah and Anees.[91] They have all since been killed, apart from Tariq, who surrendered[92] in May 2016.[93]

See also


  1. ^ Hizbul Mujahideen was designated as a designated as a terrorist group by the United States, European Union, India and Canada.[7][8][9]
  2. ^ The use of social media in conflict is considered a form of information warfare.[94] In 2019 the Indian Defence Ministry "approved a new Information Warfare branch in the army to combat misinformation and false propaganda being spread through social media for adverse psychological impact."[95][96]


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External links