Azhar Qadri &Suhail A Shah
Tral, July 9
Thousands of people, including teenaged boys and old men, today offered several funeral prayers for Burhan Wani, a young militant commander who was killed last evening, making it the largest gathering in the region in recent years.
At least four major funeral prayers were offered at the vast ground near Wani’s home in Tral town in south Kashmir, while several other small funeral prayers were also offered as the steady stream of mourners kept arriving here despite curfew imposed by the authorities.
Even though it was difficult to count the number of people who attended the funeral, but estimates suggest the number could have been anywhere around two lakh people or more. The attendance in Wani’s funeral was one of the largest for a militant in the past decade.
The funerals of militants have attracted large attendances in recent years as insurgency has made a significant comeback in the last four to five years and gained several hundred recruits.
Three militants, including Wani, were killed in a brief gunfight in the Kokernag area of south Kashmir on Friday evening. Wani, who headed militants of Hizbul Mujahideen in south Kashmir, was one of the most prominent militant commander in the region and had become the poster boy of new-age militancy.
Those who attended Wani’s funerals had come from across the Kashmir valley, including from distant places like Kupwara and Baramulla, more than 100 km from here. Many had come on foot and walked long distances, while hundreds came in cars, load carriers, tractors and trucks.
Several masked men, believed to be militants, also came to the ground where Wani’s body was kept for public viewing during the day.
The police handed over Wani’s body to his family late on Friday night and it arrived at his Sharifabad home at 3 am. As soon as the body of the militant commander arrived, hundreds of men – most of them young boys – gathered at Wani’s home and raised slogans praising militants.
The first of the several funeral prayers was offered at 10 am as heavy rush of people flooded the ground which caused advancing of the funeral from the scheduled time. Wani was later buried in the afternoon after several rounds of funeral prayers. Some reports suggesting as many as 20 big and small funeral prayers were offered.
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