A home-grown outfit, Hizbul Mujahideen, dedicated to the militant defence of the cause of Kashmiris’ struggle for freedom, has accepted responsibility for the Monday attack that killed eight of the 700,000 Indian security forces deployed in the valley, to maintain its brutal hold. The idea, obviously, was to covey a strong message to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, due to arrive in the occupied state on Tuesday, that despite the ferocious reign of terror one of the largest concentration of troops has let loose on the people of Kashmir, they would not sit back and accept the cruel reality of subjugation as their ultimate fate. Rather, they were ready to make more sacrifices that they would inevitably be required to make after this attack. Let no one forget that in their decades-long gruelling essay to struggle out of the Indian stranglehold, they have gladly borne pain and privation, losing on the way as many as 80,000 of their fellow Kashmiris; their women have been subjugated to the worst attacks and indignities; their children and elderly folks subjected to torture and slaughter; and thousands of them dumped in unmarked, mass graves.Such brave sons of the soil would not be deterred by the state of high alert and the curfew imposed on the eve of this high-level visit, to make their anger known. Nor would they be duped by the empty rhetoric of Narinder Modi, former Chief Minister of Gujarat and head of the election campaign of the BJP, that he would resolve the Kashmir dispute should he come to power. Nor, for that matter, does the remark of outgoing Indian Ambassador at Islamabad Sharat Sabarwal carry glad tidings for the people of the occupied state. Pakistanis and Kashmiris have been witness to this drama of the jugglery of words on umpteen occasions. New Delhi has invariably refused to come to brass tacks and indulged in raising insubstantial and extraneous matters whenever the question of settling the issue has come up in discussion at the bilateral meetings. But what justification, moral or legal, there is to hold the fate of Kashmiris hostage to the so-called presence of terrorist cells in Pakistan.The murderous attack should serve to remind the ‘greatest democracy’ in the world, and its powerful friends, that India has a commitment to honour; that failure on its part over the past 65 years is at the root of this desperation that finds expression in peaceful rallies, occasionally bursting into use of arms. The way out: honour the word Pundit Nehru gave to the Kashmiris and the world way back in 1948 and hold a UN-sponsored plebiscite to let the people decide which country to join, Pakistan or India.