IN recent months, Kashmir witnessed a spate of killings of civilians, all of them in the town of Sopore within a span of about a month. At that time, many speculations were made by people about who was behind these killings. The terror that these killings created had forced telecom services within Sopore to be shut down for almost a week. There was a strong feeling among the common people that this was perhaps the reincarnation of the dreaded Ikhwan in Kashmir, which had spread terror in Kashmir in the mid 90s. The police had asserted many times that militant group Hizb ul Mujahedeen was behind these killings and they had also claimed they were close to nabbing the real culprits behind these killings. But all those proved to be lofty claims, perhaps meant to assuage the public feelings that time. As with everything in Kashmir, life went on without anyone being arrested or punished for these killings.
Events took an interesting turn on Thursday, July 23 when Hizb ul Mujahedeen expelled one Abdul Qayoom Najar from the basic membership of the militant outfit for his involvement in what the party claimed to be civilian killings and attacks on mobile towers. The party spokesperson Saleem Hashmi said the decision to expel Najar was taken at a special meeting of Hizb Command Council chaired by supreme commander Syed Salah-ud-Din. He further said that the investigative report presented before the party senior leadership clearly proves the key role that Najar had played behind these killings and spreading terror. The spokesperson said that since he had been expelled from the party, hence no further activity from him should be associated with the party.
It should be in place here to mention that a little known group Lashkar e Islami had claimed responsibility for these attacks. Now if one were to go by Hizb ul Mujahedeens latest assertions, the party was a smokescreen created by Qayoom Najar to carry out its attacks and spread dread among common Kashmiris. On the face of it, this statement indicting one of their own members by Hizb is a welcome step, but a deeper look, leaves not only some questions unanswered but raises some other issues as well. What does it mean to expel a member of Hizb by its top leadership from the party for killing innocent civilians? What kind of responsibility is this? What does it say about the ethics of an organization which claims to be morally superior to its enemy and what do the relatives of the victims and all Kashmiris make of the Hizb washing its hands off these killings? The Hizb statement makes one wonder as if Najar has been expelled from the party for doing some anti party activities and not killing of civilians. This statement by Hizb raises some uncomfortable questions that the party needs to answer. It is also imperative upon the separatist leadership to ask the party pertinent questions on this issue.
What has the J and K Police been doing all these days, except making some noises about the identity of these killers? Now that the militant outfit has clearly indicted one of its own members for these killings, the police needs to step up its efforts to nab the culprit(s) and bring truth before the public.
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