For those living in the Kashmir Valley, Fayaz Ahmad Aishwar was a local hero. His funeral evoked an emotional response from residents who did not view him as a Hizbul Mujahideen member; rather, he was a soldier, a fighter who took up armed resistance against the Indian state. Thousands of residents turned up to pay their last respects to this man.

Conversely, the funeral of Azhar Mehmood, the Indian policeman who was killed by terrorists, was a silent, private affair. His death warranted the presence of those closest to him- his family and colleagues who lost a dear one while trying to safeguard the State against terrorists.

In Kashmir, deaths of mujahideens are often a public spectacle. Locals grieve the loss of those who fight against the State’s armed forces. And for the average Kashmiri, the larger Indian state is always the enemy. The funerals of the two ‘soldiers,' one clothed in an uniform and the other in plain clothes reveal where allegiances lie and how patriotism works in the Valley.

Mehmood, who was a part of the police force for 10 years, lost his life during an attack by Aishwar and his associates. The policeman was trying to control the traffic after a car accident in Anantnag but he was attacked by Hizbul Mujahideen members on Sunday.

According to NDTV, the policeman caught hold of a terrorist but lost his life when Aishwar’s men shot him. His life along with three other civilians came to an end on a fateful Sunday. While Aishwar had the support of his associates, Mehmood had none, and this in many ways shows what’s happening in Kashmir.

In the past few months, locals have become fierce supporters of terrorists and even if they don’t join armed groups, they abet those who take up arms.