Security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir have killed more than 50 militants since the beginning of this year. Sameer Yasir reports how funerals in the region, which has seen an armed insurgency against Indian rule since 1989, have become a part of local folklore.
As the body of the militant, draped in green, is finally laid to rest, women sing songs of blood and valour. The body is placed on a makeshift platform so mourners can get a good view. People raise their hands in reverence to touch the body.
Young men push through the jostling crowd to kiss the militant’s forehead. Then they touch his feet and rub their hands on their body, as if performing a religious ritual.
The crowd swells with every passing minute. Slogans of defiance rent the air. A group of teenagers grab the microphone, exhorting mourners to continue their “struggle” by singing songs of defiance. The “celebrations” continue till the body is buried in the “martyrs graveyard”.
One recent afternoon in April, a lean, old woman with deep sunken eyes and grey hair, turned up at the funeral for a militant who had been killed in a gun battle the day before. She had a green polythene bag under her arm.
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“I have come to say goodbye to my son,” Zoona Begum announced in a thin voice to mourners at the funeral of 19-year-old Ubaid Shafi Malla, who had dropped out of college and joined a separatist group, the Hizbul Mujahideen, in February 2017.