Fear returns to the Kashmir Valley

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With every passing day of this summer, the situation in Kashmir seems to be going from bad to worse. No, there are no protests being attacked by the police or the security forces or gun battles fought between militants and the security forces, but fear has gripped the valley for a different reason. For an outsider the situation might look calm, but that is the deception of the ‘normalcy’ in Kashmir. For common Kashmiris, this summer is turning out to be yet another nightmare where their worst fears are resurfacing. All this started with the killing of a young man, working in a BSNL franchise in Sopore, about a month ago. That almost led to the closure of telecom services in the valley. His killers are yet to be apprehended despite big claims by the JK Police that they have made breakthroughs in the case.

The mystery deepened with the killing of another person, a pharmacist in the town. He was also close to the Hurriyat Conference (G). Another person, a former militant, Mehraj ud din Dar was killed on Sunday near his shop at Badami Bagh locality in Sopore. This is the third killing in the town in the last one week, at the hands of ‘’unidentified gunmen’’. “He was shot from point blank range with a pistol. Two bullets hit his head and two in his abdomen. He was rushed to Sub-District Hospital Sopore, but succumbed on the way,” said a police official.Police also said that he was an ex militant with JKLF, but was running his business for the last two decades.

All these killings in the past few weeks have occurred in the apple town of Sopore. It has not only left the town shattered, but the whole valley has been gripped by fear. When these killings started, the JK Police was quick to blame them on the militant outfit Hizb ul Mujahedeen. Senior Police officials had initially claimed that they rounded up a number of suspects and were close to finding out who was behind these killings. But so far there has been no breakthrough, neither have the real culprits been arrested.  

The Govt’s contradictory and confusing stance is adding to the confusion among the people in the valley. For most people, it seems a throwback to the mid 90s when counter insurgency took root in the valley and killings at the hands of ‘’unidentified gunmen’’ became a norm. Kashmir has seen a lot of violence and mayhem during the years of militancy. Unfortunately the cycle of relative peace and calm in the valley was broken in the wake of the Amarnath agitation following which Kashmir witnessed bloody agitations in the subsequent years in which hundreds of civilian protesters were killed by the State. This time, the situation is different but the fear factor is high. The silence and inaction of the State Govt is merely adding to the fear of the common people. The State Govt needs to come clean on this and reassure the people, not only by its words but by actions as well, that their security is the prime concern of the Govt.

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