Speaking during the book release ceremony of Shafi Naqeeb’s ‘Kashmir Almiyoo Ki Sarzameen’ (Kashmir, the land of tragedies), Democratic Freedom Party member Manzoor Ahmad Ghazi referring to the recent killings in Sopore rightly observed that “This is the biggest tragedy of Kashmir that we are not in position to identify the killers of our people.” So, when logical exposition fails, one has no other option but to hope that probably invoking the absurd may convey the intended message and this I do by comparing the rhetoric regarding the true identity and affiliation of the Sopore killers to a JK police versus separatists and the United Jihad Council (UJC) game of cards. Therefore, even though the very thought of associating these gruesome killings with something as frivolous as a card game may appear to be insensitive it is being done with the sole aim of finding out who is behind this repugnant orgy of blood-shedding!
No sooner had the first killing taken place last month both sides with the aplomb of seasoned gamblers did not waste any time to even check their cards and started off by playing ‘blind’. The police ‘bid’ (allegation) was that the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) were behind the killings and to conceal their true identity were calling themselves Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI). The separatist-UJC combine countered this by making its own ‘bid’ that LeI was the creation of Indian secret agencies to “defame the freedom struggle” and “punish” the people of Sopore for playing an active role in Kashmir’s ‘freedom struggle’!
For more than three weeks, this ‘game of cards’ went on like this. The police made a slight modification in their ‘bid’ by amplifying that the serial killers of Sopore were ex-HM operatives who had rebelled against their supreme commander Syed Sallahudin and formed the new militant group LeI. They even named veteran Hizb commander Abdul Qayoom Najar as the leader of this breakaway group. Worried that the police ‘bid’ may be ‘higher’ (more accurate) than theirs, the separatists asked their partner to check the cards, but the UJC chief insisted on continuing to play ‘blind’. And while the police and the separatists continued making contradictory ‘bids’, the killers had a field day in Sopore.
However, while the JK police was pretending to be playing ‘blind’, what it was actually doing was to secretly check its cards to ensure that it was not ‘outbid’ by the separatists. Then, just when it looked like the separatist –UJC team had outwitted their rival by displaying phenomenal confidence in its ‘bid’ that the LeI had nothing to do with the freedom struggle in Kashmir and was the creation of Indian secret agencies, the JK police suddenly upped their ‘bid’. Claiming that HM militants Abdul Qayoom Najar alias Qayoom Nazarwala and Imtiyaz Ahmad Kandoo, were responsible for the Sopore serial attacks, the police wagered Rupees 2 million on this ‘bid’ of theirs.
Normally, when one side chooses to continue playing after having seen its cards and simultaneously raises the ‘bid’ exorbitantly, those playing ‘blind’ need to be careful. However, the Rupees 2 million ‘bid’ (bounty) announced by JK police has failed to impress the separatist- UJC team which continues to standby its original bid that the LeI is the creation of Indian secret agencies. However, they have not yet shown their cards and instead are supporting their ‘bid’ by citing the “kantey se kanta nikalna (using a thorn to pluck out an embedded thorn)”statement made by the Indian Defence Minister on the issue tackling terrorism. The separatist-UJC team may be convinced that LeI is the creation of Indian secret agencies and they could also be right, but in this game of cards, as in real life, one has to provide irrefutable evidence to prove a point as mere conjecture or a hunch has no value.
In old Bollywood movies, one invariably came across gambling scenes in which the villain invariably plays ‘blind’ against the hero who has an unbeatable array of cards. However, the villain still manages to declare himself the winner by producing a couple of aces concealed in his sleeve, but his bluff is quickly exposed by the hero just as the villain is in the process of gathering the bet amount lying on the table. It seems that the separatist- UJC team has promptly ‘dishonoured’ the ‘bid’ of the HM duo being responsible for the killings in Sopore made by the police as it believes that these are just ‘dummy aces’. However, now that the JK police has finally ‘shown its hand’ and even ‘bet’ Rs 2 million on it, card rules and etiquettes demand that the separatist-UJC team stops playing ‘blind’ and picking up its cards, either shows that Abdul Qayoom Najar and Imtiyaz Ahmad Kandoo are in still their ‘pack’ or else accept being ‘outbid’ by JK police!