Kashmir has become a hub of murder. Anywhere, anyone can be killed and the blame goes to an anonymous gunman. This practice of uncommon killing by anonymous gunmen has a history that dates back to the 1990s, when unknown gunmen used to kill unknown persons for no reasons. These mysterious killings have bewildered people and now people are living under the trepidation of it. Such mysterious killings give people Goosebumps when they repeatedly hear the same sentence: “someone was gunned down by unknown gunman”. It haunts them endlessly.

Six mysterious killings within a month and no one knows who’s doing it. The police have blamed it on militants; the victims’ families accuse Indian security agencies. And the residents, in response, are hitting out wildly, pulling down shutters and throwing stones at security forces and shouting pro-freedom slogans. These unfortunate killings have shocked people and made their lives miserable. People are openly calling these mysterious killings the work of the Indian intelligence. It is to create chaos among people, they say. A statement which came from the Indian ministry clearly shows that it is the intrigue of Indian security agencies who has initiated such targeted killings. "The situation is pretty much under control. Our proactive attitude is to identify terrorists and then effectively neutralise them. Every case is handled firmly with clear-cut intelligence for targeted kills, ensuring minimal if any collateral damage," Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said in a wide-ranging exclusive interview with TOI. After the statement and the killing spree started by anonymous gunmen several mainstream political parties have accused the government of India and their intelligence agencies for initiating such attacks. Interestingly, not only do the UJC Chief Syed Salahuddin, Geelani and Mirwaiz see the link of these killings with this statement, but also the opposition’s National Conference Leader and former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, who insinuated the same by stating that “the defence minister says militants will be used to kill militants, does it mean that they will give rebirth to Ikhwan (renegades – Govt. sponsored militants)”. The remarks of the defence minister refreshed memories of a state-supported militia organisation, Ikhwanul-ul-Muslimoon.

Immediately after the statement of Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parikar in which he stated that “terrorism will be eliminated by terrorism and militants will be used to kill militants”, the process of mysterious killings started in the northern Kashmiri area of Sopore, which saw 6 people being killed within a month.

The Ikhwan system was designed by the state to crush the militant struggle in Jammu and Kashmir in 1990s. The recruited Ikhwanis (renegades) brought miseries in the form of rapes, murders, uncommon disappearances and unknown killings. It was the darkest period in the history of Kashmir when the Ikhwanis were given permission to torture and kill hundreds of thousands of people. That is the reason people were afraid when the killing spree started in Sopore; when unidentified gunmen used to kill those who were directly or indirectly linked with the freedom movement.

The trepidation of these unfortunate killings was the insinuation that the renegade system has been upgraded and reintroduced to Kashmir. The phenomenon of these killings has created fear psychosis in people’s minds. It gives them the sense that they are being monitored silently by an evil eye. Due to these attacks, tourism in Kashmir was also affected.  The unfortunate killings pushed many people to leave Kashmir and settle somewhere else in the world, where they can live a peaceful and comfortable life.

People across Jammu & Kashmir have been witnesses to many a killings during the last two-and-a-half decades, but this new wave sparks fear in each part of Jammu and Kashmir.

These attacks once again raised the all-important question:  who is conducting these killings? Who are these anonymous gunmen? Who supports them? Why is the police clueless about these attacks? People of Jammu and Kashmir discuss in shops and say “yeh andar ka kaam hai” (“this is an inside job”).  Some of them articulate these attacks with old sayings: “saamp bhi mar jaye aur lathi bhi na toote” (“put an end to the problem without bearing any loss”).

The government, raising from its deep slumber, has ordered an enquiry into the matter. The police has ordered a crackdown operation, with the intent of finding these anonymous gunmen and has announced a bounty prize for the person who will reveal the identity behind the masked persons. The police revealed the information that these attacks are done by the newly formed group, Lashkar-e-Islam. This newly formed militia organisation claimed the responsibility of attacking the towers in the north-Kashmir area of Sopore which lead to a shutdown of the towers for a week. The organization bashed several separatists and UJC chief, Syed Salahudin, for labelling them an Indian organisation. People across Kashmir, who had been witness to the formation of Ikhwan-ul-Muslimoon, claim that Ikhwan organisation was formed just like the new militia organisation is formed.

In a nutshell, Kashmiris are now back to living the fearful life. Nobody knows when, how and why they will be killed by any gunman in any corner of Kashmir. The streets are empty with fear at each corner. The killing spree is spreading from one district to another. And the irony behind these attacks is: “nobody knows who the perpetrator is”.