He was the poster boy for the Hizbul-Mujahideen (HuM) in Kashmir. But Burhan Wani has also been adopted by Sikh radical groups, going by the sale of a magazine with him on the cover describing him as ‘Hero of Freedom of Kashmir’ at the Shaheedi Jor Mela in Fatehgarh Sahib on Monday.
A total of 10 lakh people are expected to congregate from Monday until December 27 at the mela, held annually to commemorate the martyrdom of Sahibzada Baba Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Baba Fateh Singh, the young sons of the 10th Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh.
The magazine was being sold in a big stall manned by supporters of SAD (Amritsar), near the Rauza Sharif, amidst other radical material including books, car stickers, badges on Khalistani militants including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
Called ‘Vangaar’ (Challenge), the pro-Khalistan magazine ran a cover story in its August 2016 issue on Wani describing him as the ‘Hero of Freedom of Kashmir’. The issue came out a month after he was killed in an encounter with the security forces in July 2016, and was being sold 18 months later at the Jor Mela for Rs 30.
Apart from two articles on Wani, the 42-page issue of the magazine also carries a “special” message on “azadi” from Jagtar Singh Hawara, convicted in the Beant Singh assassination cases and now lodged in Tihar jail; an article on drug use in Punjab, an article on ISIS. The two articles on Wani have been written by Gajinder Singh of Dal Khalsa, who is believed to be in Pakistan, and the pro-Khalistani writer Baljeet Singh Khalsa.
Swaranjeet Singh, a resident of Ferozepur village who had bought a copy, said there is “nothing wrong in reading about anyone who had fought for any freedom struggle”. “I had heard about Wani in news, there were riots when he was cremated, I do not know who has written about him or who is selling it, I came here and the material appealed to me and I bought a copy, I will read it,” he said.
The seller who was selling the magazines and other material including books about many militants refused to disclose his name and said that he went to every religious function in the state and sold the material.
“We are only selling the magazines and the books. What’s wrong in it. Even police did not say anything to us, we are not harming anyone,” he said.
Both Deputy Commissioner Kanwalpreet Kaur Brar and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Alka Meena were unaware about the material being sold in the Jor Mela. The DC said that any material threat to the national security could not be sold. She said would check the information. The SSP too said she would get it checked.