NEW DELHI: India’s former spymaster has said that slain Hizbul Mujahideen chief Burhan Wani was an ‘icon for the people of Kashmir’.
“You may call him a terrorist, but you can’t ignore that he was some sort of an icon for the people there,” AS Dulat, a former head of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) said in an interview with The Economic Times.
“He was different. He was popular. So when he got killed, it created the situation for the flood of anger to come out, Dulat added.
Wani was killed by Indian security forces in an alleged gunfight on July 8 that triggered an outrage in the occupied valley. India responded with a brute force to quell the widespread protests.
“There has been anger simmering for a long time and we [India] did not take cognisance of it. That anger just needed a spark, and Burhan Wani did that,” said Dulat, who was also adviser on Kashmir in the government of prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“As an intelligence officer, I would have tried to bring him overground. Many militants in the past had a new life overground,” said Dulat who had revealed in a 2015 interview that RAW had been bankrolling Kashmiri separatists.
Pakistan has invited India for exclusive talks on Kashmir, but India turned down the offer. “The worst situation is when you don’t talk either with Pakistan or with Kashmiris. So, we must talk with Kashmiris and we must talk to Pakistan,” he added.