The killings have created an atmosphere of fear among the residents and non-locals alike

Srinagar: The recent spate of killings of pandits and non-locals in the Kashmir valley has created an atmosphere of restlessness and fear among the residents and non-locals alike. With all measures taken and security being enhanced to tackle the violence, the unavoidable thought of sudden death has made civilians jittery. The killings have been owned by self-styled The Resistance Front (TRF), an insurgent group that became active in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370 on 5 August 2019. In their statements, they have been claiming that they will not allow any settlement of non-locals and pandits who have left the valley in the 1990s. The conditions seem to be a repetition of the 1990s when anarchy ruled the roost. No one, particularly civilians, appear to be safe. Anyone belonging to any community or religion is being targeted by the TRF, for reasons best known to them. The killings can also be linked to the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A and also the change in domicile law that has rendered the non-locals vulnerable as political parties see “a nefarious design” for demographic change behind the move.

Mushtaq ul haq Ahmad Sikander, a writer-activist in Kashmir, believes that though the government claims of normalcy, insurgency is rearing its ugly head once again and this is more disturbing as it is happening in Srinagar. He further said that the triumph of the Taliban in Afghanistan and its increasing footprint in the region has given insurgency a new vigour and shot in the arm in Kashmir. “The security agencies will have an uphill task to curb the civilian killings and the decimation of the Hurriyat Conference seems to have shifted the leadership in the hands of the insurgents. The Hurriyat Conference had always acted as a buffer between state and non-state actors; with that gone, the insurgents seem to be having a field day.”

Maqsood Ali, a sales manager in one a private company in Kashmir, sees the situation disheartening and laments the ghastly developments in the valley. “So many killings have shaken our soul. Violence has created insecurity in each person and to live with that is a serious psychological challenge. All our life we have seen broken promises and unreliability among those (political brass) who have lead us. Now, what to blame and whom to blame are question marks,” he said. The prevailing insecurity has put all the residents of the valley into turmoil and they say that now, they are unable to withstand more of what used to happen in the early 1990s.

Rehan Aejaz, a bachelor’s student, said: “We have limited leeway when it comes to moving out. Our parents are afraid that something might happen to us, so we are under an unending scrutiny over our movements, it is even more difficult when I have to sit back home just to appease my family.”