Five killings in a span of less than 48 hours during the Eid-ul-Adha celebrations left Kashmir in confusion, chaos and anger. While no militant organization has taken responsibility of any of these killing as of now, the case will be closed, or consigned to official files with a marking that will read: killed by unidentified gunmen. These unidentified gunmen or unknown gunmen, have more killings to their name in last three decades of conflict than the known ones. The series of killing on Eid eve started with the killing of Fayaz Ahmad Shah, a constable in J&K police. He was killed while on way to home after offering Eid prayers at his native village of Zazripora in Kulgam. He was shot dead by masked gunmen who wanted him to accompany them. The second killing happened in Loswani village of Pulwama when Mohammad Yaqoob Shah, a policeman, was killed by unknown gunmen outside his house. The same evening, Mohammad Ashraf Dar, an inspector who was posted in Budgam, was killed by unknown gunmen inside his house. Though police said the initial investigation point fingers towards Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, but so far no militant outfit has claimed responsibility, which adds to the confusion.
The situation in Kashmir, especially in the south and some parts of north, are akin to that of peak militancy era of 1990s. During those volatile days of militancy, a number of killings were never probed or attributed to anyone. Thus such killings were automatically attributed to the unidentified gunmen. There are thousands of such killings which were never investigated. Since the start of 2018, at least six killings in erstwhile Ikhwan hotbed of Hajin were never probed. All the killings are still a mystery. These killings happened within a span of one month, following a set pattern, and done with the intention to create fear and chaos. The brutality of these killings by unidentified gunmen in Hajin is still talked in whispers. The most gruesome killing was when a father was literally butchered by masked men in front of his seven-year-old son in Hajin.
On the second day of Eid a forest guard named Tariq was killed by unidentified gunmen while he was offering prayers inside his house. A resident of Tangmarg in north, Tariq’s family says that he was not killed by militants. However police blamed a local Laskhar-e-Toiba militant. A day after, Lashkar sent a press release denying involvement in Tariq’s killing. This has deepened the mystery. If not militants, as presumed by police, then who is killing these people and why? This question has baffled Kashmir since last three decades and no one seems to know its answers. But will we ever know who actually operates from behind the mask of unknown?