Ominous Signs Again

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FOR quite some time now, the news in Valley seems to follow a cyclical pattern. No sooner the situation lapses into a routine than something dramatic or the shockingly violent intervenes to throw everything off the track. In recent past when the things appeared to be headed in the right direction, three successive incidents ensured that the situation returns back to square one. First came the beef ban by the High Court on a petition filed by government’s own deputy advocate general. It was followed by the aborted maiden Kashmir marathon, and now the mysterious killings of the three youth in Pattan. 

On Monday, local people found bodies of the three youth with bullet marks at an orchard in village Dangerpora. Though their identities have by now been revealed, nobody knows who killed them. There are, however, several theories doing rounds. The police say the killings are the outcome of the factional feud between Hizbul Mujahideen and its alleged breakaway group Lashker-i-Islam. Two of the slain youth are being said to belong to Lashker-i-Islam. But this explanation has hardly addressed the deep scepticism in public about the killings. There are reasons for this. Police has yet  to conclude its investigations. And also, we still don’t conclusively know who were behind the series of killings in Sopore earlier this year. And so far as the Pattan killings are concerned we are unlikely to get any more clarification than what the police has said so far. Meanwhile, separatist groups have called for a shutdown today against the killings.

This has once again created a frightening scenario in Valley. The killings are a chilling echo of the nineties when people lost their lives for no reason and the perpetrators faded into woodwork. Some of this tension has now started radiating outwards from Pattan, spilling over also across the Valley.  The streets are rife with rumour and fear. People look over their shoulders and are restrained in their opinions.

Such a state of affairs needs clear-cut answers. The perpetrators need to be identified and the motives established. For how long shall people go by the half-baked theories only, some of which are known through the media only and otherwise seem to have no concrete existence.  It is time that the state government effectively steps in and reassures the people. In the absence of a credible explanation and the action against the perpetrators, not only are such killings going to continue but the consequent destabilization in the situation will have serious economic costs. Earlier this year, when mysterious Sopore killings took place, thousands of tourists cancelled their plans to visit Valley. Tourists started skirting Kashmir and visit alternative destinations in India.  This is likely to happen again.

Already, the perception of renewed disturbance in Kashmir has fizzled out the impact of the film shoots by the major Bollywood stars like Salman Khan. This is hitting the traders hard. And if the situation goes on like this, and even the autumn ends without bringing tourists to Valley, it will deal another big blow to Valley’s economy after the one inflicted  by the deluge and the recurrent flood scares since then. It is therefore incumbent on the government to see that after the deluge there is a need to enable a conducive environment for the Valley’s economy to grow. More so, after the centre seems to have all but washed its hands off of providing adequate relief and rehabilitation to the flood-hit.

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