By Sushil Kutty
Fear is the key! That’s the title of a James Hadley Chase novel. It had a Native American doing targeted killings of rich pokes. The first killing is followed by a second. The third body gets the cops thinking: This killer is killing only the stinking rich. The fear sinks in and then comes the extortion calls. Of course, the rich and famous empty their safes one after the other – ‘Fear is the key!’
Which is what’s happening in the Kashmir Valley these days. There’s panic and fear of sudden death after the first spate of killings. The sheer terror has left Kashmiri Pandits (KP) paralysed. Like the partridge in the glare of a car headlight. For the second time in 32 years, KP are fleeing the Valley, those of them who had remained after the first bout of “genocide”, opting to give Kashmir a chance.
“This killing of KP and Kashmiri Sikhs one at a time, one after another, is what’s killing! Killing our peace of mind. It’s like somebody’s shooting clay pigeons at the shooting range. We’re in perpetual suspense, in mortal fear. Death will come when, from where?” The panicked KP is blaming the Modi Government. A “second exodus” is in progress. The KP are adamant the Valley will be emptied of the last KP living there.
But there are those in the Valley and across the LoC who are using fear to open closed doors. Closed shut by the Centre after 2014. The BJP-PDP government in Kashmir was ephemeral. That it lasted for as long it did was a surprise. That it fell unceremoniously wasn’t. Now, it’s time to force open the shut door with fear!
Kashmir’s homegrown politicians term the unknown killers “children”. They say the Modi Government should talk to “children”. Will these blokes please tell who these “children” are and where can an SUV be sent to pick them up for the talks?
For the Kashmiri neta in mufti, the time now is ripe to demand that the Centre invite “Kashmiris” and Pakistan for talks. Finally, after decades of firing at the Indian Armed Forces at the LoC and throwing stones in Srinagar and 100 other places in the Valley, there’s a feeling that Modi can be brought on his knees to the negotiating table with fear as the key!
Needless to say, it’s colossal failure. The complete abdication of responsibility. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah were caught unprepared. Not that Lt. Guv Manoj Sinha was ready. Ask BJP spokespersons what happened and they reel out statistics to paint a bright picture.
“It’s like they are presenting an IPL match score. Do you think knowing how many Covid-19 vaccinations Modi administered would help remove the fear? The other evening Ram Madhav was talking of how bright the future will be! Frankly, people are going nuts and he’s talking nuts,” said a KP at a Jammu rally.
This KP quit Srinagar after the chemist killing. He couldn’t stand the suspense longer. No KP in his right mind, nor a Kashmiri Sikh, will choose to stay on in the Valley under the current conditions. Nobody wants the bullet to blossom in the head and grey cells splattered all over the place. His/her grey cells!
The BJP, they say, is unfit to rule. The targeted killings of Hindu and Sikh has rattled the clueless Centre. Who to pick up when the killer is a fleeting shadow in the deeper shadows? A stranger who walks in from the cold – nondescript and ornery. The NIA is in Kashmir, snooping in nooks and corners.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pak Army Chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa won. The ceasefire at the LoC did the trick. They got time to set up Taliban Afghanistan. They could redraw Pakistan’s Kashmir policy. Now, Modi is missing teeth and Amit Shah a portion of his jaw! Both have been rendered unfit to talk. If fear is the key, silence is golden! James Hadley Chase would have given up his writing arm to be alive in today’s Kashmir! (IPA Service)