The era of 'charismatic' militancy

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

New Delhi, July 9 (ANI): The phenomenon of militancy underwent a change when Burhan Wani, the recently killed 22-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander, was tagged as the poster boy of militancy on social media after posting a picture of his group on a Facebook page in 2014 that showed them in battle fatigues and holding assault rifles. Now, they were no more militants hidden behind a veil, always on a run for their lives and living in hideouts. Now they are tech savvy heroes who have dared the armed forces and have not shied away from exposing themselves. As soon as the picture went viral, girls were seen swooning over his handsome looks, pledging their lives to him and hundreds of youth being impacted by his social media videos appealing them to join the fight. Known to be a crazy cricket lover, Wani soon became a cult figure that marked the era of a new age militancy when educated youth are drawn to the idea of jihad for gaining freedom. And, who can blame them for they always have lived in tyranny clad environments. He came from a well educated family. His father is a school headmaster and mother is a post-graduate. He himself was a bright student who scored over 90 percent in his Class 8 exams, but dropped out 10 days before his Class 10 boards to take up the gun. Charming, handsome and charismatic Wani was just 16 years old when he left his home to join militancy six years ago and was now a household name in South Kashmir, a narrative of heroism for the people, a legend, a hero on the righteous path, a religious-man who feared Allah but a fearless fighter for the cause of freedom, before his elimination on July 8. What gave his appeals strength is the fact, he never camouflaged himself, which people took as a sign of heroism. Facebook and WhatsApp surely have an immense reach and when you have a young, good-looking man inviting you for jihad, it does make an impact. But what we are witnessing right now, this phase of militancy is not unique to India with Dhaka attack being the latest example. The Bangladeshi terrorists who attacked an upscale cafe were highly educated teenagers, actively used social media platforms, even studied abroad but were still brainwashed with the misinterpretations of the teachings of Quran. Some of them were admirers of the controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, a link common between Wani and the Dhaka attackers. Wani's Facebook posts shows he followed Naik as he tweeted "Support Zakir Naik or Time Will Come When Qur'an Recitation will be Banned", post the Dhaka attack controversy. Tech savvy Wani used social media to voice his hate for the Indian army and propagate his belief of militancy. Such a scenario can be really worrisome for any country that wishes to contain militancy as figures like Wani give a new momentum to militancy by entering the psyche of the youth. And the effect can be seen already, as massive number of his followers are protesting and offering funeral prayers are for the slain militants. Youths are raising slogans in his support and are calling him a martyr and many separatists leaders have announced a shut down in several areas. (ANI)