Jammu and Kashmir News
By Pawas Verma
Six civilians have been killed in one of the darkest towns of Kashmir, in less than a month by unidentified gunmen. The constant killings are more shocking than ever because for the first time, no militant outfit has claimed responsibility for these attacks. The people are scared, not because of the killings but because of the ‘unprecedented’ killings originating without a pre story attached to them. Killings and militancy in Sopore is not a fresh story but what is new is that the state government as well as the police is ignorant of the culprits. What creates the tension in these militant hotbeds, are generally the separatist groups but this time, it is not them and this is something that the town has not heard before.
The town had started looking forward to get back on the road post late 90s but with the recent series of killings, the town is again in news. Sopore is tense once again, amid the policemen and paramilitary men guarding every deserted street.
On June 9, a Tehreek-i-Hurriyat activist Sheikh Altaf was shot in Iqbal Nagar. As per reports Altaf was always on the radar of the security forces because of his involvement with the Hurriyat. Altaf’s father Sheikh Yousuf also said that the senior police officers had conveyed death threats for Altaf many a time in the past. On June 12, another Hurriyat activist and shopkeeper, Khurshid Ahmad Bhat was shot. Mehrajuddin Dar, who was a former militant, was shot two days after. A day later another former militant Aijaz Ahmed Reshi was reported murdered. The pattern observed was similar that the unidentified men come wearing burkas, show up in twos and hit the target with precision between head and waist.
The strong reason that is being believed is that the mishaps are a result of a covert operation hinted by the Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar a few days ago when he suggested to ‘neutralize terrorists through terrorists’. The opposition party leaders including Omar Abdullah and Ghulam Nabi Azad, for political or whatsoever reason, have indicted the Minister for the operation.
As militancy originated in the early 90s, Sopore became its pride. The apple town of Kashmir was now a representative of conservative politics of Kashmir. The fresh style of killing in Kashmir had remained an instrument of state policy for India in Kashmir during that era as well. It began with the murder of Dr. Abdul Ahad Guroo in 1991 where a covert operation was conceived by then Director General of Police, B.S. Bedi. The plot served a two-fold purpose by putting the onus of killing on a group of militants, which would further instigate animosity between them, and second to eliminate Guroo who had become a constant source of embarrassment for Indian Security set up in Kashmir. More covert operations and more havoc followed. Incidents like these were portrayed as a handiwork of communal fanatics but the whole scenario was a part of Indian Security apparatus. Another one in the list of major covert operations is the massacre of 36 innocent Sikhs at Chittisinghpora village in 2000- which was purely done to malign the Kashmir freedom movement and the whole operation was kept secret and wasn’t disclosed because of compulsions of ministerial oath. The operations and the concerned personnels, when questioned, had the protective shield of AFSPA. Kashmir’s history has witnessed numerous such operations and scores of people have died too.
Perhaps this time too, the mysterious killings by the unidentified gunmen have more than what the government has added in public domain.