Soon after Sajad Ahmed Gilkar’s body was brought to his home in downtown Srinagar on July 12, youths who led the funeral procession of the young militant did something unprecedented in the history of Kashmir’s insurgency: they waved black flags. The colour, representative of the Islamic State terror group, has brought to the fore new ideological faultlines in the restive Valley, where Pakistan’s national flag is a usual sight on such occasions of loud protest.
At Nowhatta, men demonstrating support to 26-year-old Sajad and his separatist ideology also shouted slogans hailing Hizbul Mujahideen militant Zakir Musa. Exactly a month before it, 23-year-old Musa had proclaimed that Kashmir struggle was all about Shariat and shahadat (martyrdom). What’s more, the Pakistani flag, he proclaimed, doesn’t fall within the “pure realm” of the Quran-prescribed Islamic guidelines “because there is no Kalimah (declaration) inscribed on it”. The militant conglomerate of United Jihad Council distanced itself from the statement, prompting Musa to announce his departure from the 1989-founded Hizb.