On 9 July 2016, at 3 pm, a throng of men—young and old—stood around a freshly dug grave at a cemetery earmarked for martyrs in Tral, located in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. They stood there, calmly praying for Burhan Wani, the divisional commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen. On 8 July, Burhan was killed after a brief gun-battle with Indian security forces in South Kashmir’s Kokernag.
A man in his mid-fifties recited the prayers loudly, to which the rest of the gathering responded with “Ameen” (may it be accepted) at brief intervals. During the proceedings, a boy, dressed in a pair of jeans and a gray T-shirt, broke down as he said “Ameen” when the older man prayed, “May Burhan’s martyrdom be accepted.”
Burhan Wani, a 22-year-old man from Tral, joined the militant movement in Kashmir when he was 15 years old. He is perceived to be the face of new-age militancy in the region, and his emergence coincided with a fresh phase of insurgency in Kashmir.