Mysterious Killings in Valley

In recent weeks, mysterious killings have returned to Valley. The bodies of several people have been recovered from several parts of the Valley.  Last week, two youth were found dead in an orchard in South Kashmir Shopian. They were identified as 17-year-old Umar Suhail and 20-year-old Mohammad Ather Mirza of the Rajouri district in Jammu province. The youth had no injury marks on their bodies. Earlier, a cable operator Hilal Ahmad Malik was killed after unidentified gunmen shot at him outside the district hospital in Shopian. However, most horrific of these killings took place August 29 when people at Gulshan Abad, Hajin saw a body floating down Jhelum.  It triggered panic  in the area. The residents massed on the banks to witness the horrifying spectacle as the boatmen rushed to haul the body to the land. To their horror, the body’s head was missing.

It didn’t take the villagers long to identify it though. As the body lay sprawled on the bank, its tall frame and the solid built gave it away to the onlookers.  He was Muzaffar Ahmad Parray of the adjacent Banger Mohalla who often led the separatist protests and stone throwing in the area. And just three months ago, his picture in which he was seen flamboyantly holding two Kalashankovs went viral on social media. The body had no injuries and no signs of decay and so it still retained the muscular youthful physique familiar to the people.

It was only a month ago that Parray had been set free by the police after a two month long detention. According to his family, he had been severely tortured in police custody and had to remain bed-ridden for days after his release.

Nobody has claimed the responsibility for such killings. The streets are rife with rumour and fear, something that has added to the confusion. In some cases,  Hurriyat and militant groups have protested the killings and blamed these on the “government agencies”. It is only a street discourse about the possible perpetrators of such killings that addresses the public anxiety about this unaccounted mayhem which has long been a feature of the ongoing conflict in the state. And this discourse has largely been impartial in blaming various actors on the scene depending on the circumstances attendant on the killings.

Though a similar discourse about the perpetrators surrounds the beheading of Parray, the context here is much more larger and troubling than in other cases. Hajin is the place where in early nineties an Army backed counter-insurgency campaign started against separatist militancy. But as irony would have it, Sonawari, once a counter-insurgent bastion has relapsed into separatist defiance and a fascination with jihad.

State Government has hardly reacted to these killings, even though police has registered the cases. But it is unlikely that the perpetrators will ever be known. This reflects the frightening nature of the prevailing situation in Kashmir. And this needs to end. Bigger onus is on the government which should at least ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are known.







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