Slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was 10 years old when he told an Indian Army officer that he wanted to join the defence force, his father Muzaffar Wani told The Times of India in an interview.
"Burhan had a strong liking for camouflage outfits," recalled the senior Wani, who is the principal at a local government school in Kashmir. The 21-year-old, whose killing in July sparked off a chain of violence in Kashmir, had left his home six years ago to join the militants. Though his father claimed that he had only met his son two or three times since then, he had tried to convince him to return.
"I told him that he was born during the peak of instability and that it was obvious that he felt the pain," he told TOI. "I am in a government job for my family. He was working for entire J&K."
The elder Wani claimed that his son loved to play cricket and would have perhaps played for the Indian team one day had circumstances been different. While he commended the Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif's speech in the United Nations earlier this month, where he invoked Burhan Wani and called him a "symbol of the Kashmiri intifada", he said he did not want to encourage other Kashmiri children to become militants.
He compared his son to Bhagat Singh, claiming that the 21-year-old was a freedom fighter, not a terrorist.
Read the full interview here.