Back to militancy in Hajin

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One more serving security personnel, this time a BSF constable Rameez Parray, was killed by suspected militants at his residence in Hajin while he was on leave. Around three to four militants are reported to have entered Parray’s house and shot him dead after dragging him out of his house. Three of his family members who tried to rescue him were also injured.   Parray was a serving constable of BSF’s 73 Battalion.

The killing is part of a new pattern whereby suspected militants have targeted the Kashmiri youth serving in the various security agencies.  In May this year, Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz, a young Kashmiri Army officer, was abducted while on leave and shot dead by militants in Shopian where he had gone to attend a family wedding. His bullet-riddled body was found near a bus stand in the adjacent village of Harmain village the following morning.

Parray’s is the second such killing at Hajin this year.  Earlier, militants had shot dead a former counter-insurgent Abdur Rashid Billa at his home. In fact, resurgence of the separatist militancy in Hajin, once the Valley’s counter-insurgency capital, is a telling comment on the prevailing  state of affairs in  the Valley. Hajin is the place where in early nineties an Army backed counter-insurgency campaign began against separatist militancy. The advent in 1993 of Kuka Parray, the first major pro-India insurgent leader, dramatically altered the militancy scene in Valley. For three years, Kuka ruled Sonawari, a cluster of villages including Hajin and further beyond. Hundreds of militants and even civilians with alleged sympathy to militants were killed by Kuka’s men.

This increased the level of violence by several fold, triggering a massive internal displacement of people from rural to urban areas, with Srinagar being the preferential destination. The horror played out in abandon for five years until Kargil war in 1998 when the things again returned to square one, with militants aided by the fresh infiltration across LoC regaining the dominance. Now, it was their turn to kill Ikhwanis, as Kuka’s men were called. Kuka himself went on to become an MLA and was subsequently killed by militants in an ambush in 2003.

The killing of the constable Parray is thus a throwback to the horrors of Sonawari’s Ikhwan past. But as irony would have it, Sonawari, once a counter-insurgent bastion has relapsed into separatist defiance and the lure of jihad. Much like in South Kashmir, the separatist protests and the stone throwing has become a regular feature of life. As many as ten militants have been killed since 2016 in encounters with security forces. According to a security estimate, currently 11 militants, who owe their allegiance to Lashkar, are active in the area. Local media reports, quoting police sources, say around seven militants shifted to Sonawari from the nearby Bandipora, including a four-member group headed by Abu Musaib, who is believed to be the nephew of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the Lashkar leaders alleged to be the mastermind behind Mumbai attack.

If anything, this gives a sense of the grim state of affairs prevailing in the Valley. If Hajin can become the militancy hotbed again, there is something seriously amiss in the way the state and the union government are handling Kashmir. And this policy needs be corrected before it is too late. 

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