Hundreds of Kashmiris paid tributes to Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on social media hailing him as a hero, a day after he was killed in an encounter in Anantnag district, as mobile internet services remained snapped and clashes were reported on Saturday morning from across the valley.
Twenty-one-year-old Wani - a top militant of the Hizbul who became the face of the separatist movement - was immensely popular amongst a section of Kashmiri youth.
Soon after the news of his killing broke on Friday night, people gathered to offer funeral prayers in absentia across Kashmir amidst slogans of “Hum kya chahte/Azaadi” and “Tum kitne Burhan maaroge, har ghar se Burhan niklega”.
Videos and photos of such gatherings were shared widely on Facebook and other social media platforms.
In Wani’s hometown of Tral, thousands of people sat with his body and funeral prayers are expected later in the day. His funeral is expected to draw huge crowds and police have put in place security measures, blocking access to several areas in Kashmir to control the situation.
The hardliner-Hurriyat faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani called for a shutdown on Saturday and said tributes would be paid to Wani and his two slain associates for the next three days.
In Srinagar, streets were completely deserted and shops and establishments shuttered and the Amarnath Yatra was suspended over security concerns after Wani’s death.
On social media, many Kashmiris wrote about the killing and what followed. They also paid tributes to the “martyr”.
Many changed their profile pictures on Facebook to a black square to mourn his death, while others quoted from poems to describe the “martyrdom” of Wani. Some even used Wani’s image as their profile pictures.
“Martyrs don’t die, their blood waters the roots of resistance, and shakes the very foundations of occupation and oppression. You have left us in grief, Burhan! May you join your brothers in jannah. Allah is with the oppressed. Woe unto the oppressor!” social activist Essar Batool wrote on Facebook.
Kashmiri Twitter user @Qadri_Inzamam wrote: “Burhan is an idea, a phenomenon, that will live for epochs. Indian can never kill an idea that has taken deep roots in our hearts and minds.”
Many users wrote about the overwhelming outpouring of emotions just after the news broke.
“People ran barefoot, to the reach the village across the fields for funeral prayers in absentia. But he was present too, in slogans and tears. Eternity is his name now. Resistance is his name. Rest in Power, Commander!” Umar Lateef Misgar, a graduate student of international relations and popular blogger, wrote.
And, for many Wani had achieved in his short span of life what many could not in a lifetime.
“A life lived well. His 22 years better than a hundred years of a hundred thousand of us. Salam, jigar,” journalist Najeeb Mubarki wrote.
On the other hand, journalist Fahad Shah wrote on Facebook about the implications of Wani’s death - a topic that has become the talking point since Saturday morning.
“The killing of Burhan Wani will not be a big success for government of India - its impact will have different connotations. If his presence meant being a poster boy, his killing will mean more inspiration for young people,” Shah said.
“It will be a major challenge to deal with this - even if there won’t be much protests visible but in the background there will be a lot going.”