Once, sometimes twice, each year we keep losing a notable. The rank and file get killed every week. This is the onrush of spring in Kashmir and the jinx continues. Whatever the season, the anarchy almost always stays.
Friday afternoon someone slayed Maulana Showkat Shah, a prominent ecclesiastic. A decade back there would be a handful of Ahli-Hadees blokes in Kashmir. Maulana’s mild manner and tireless work, it is said, swelled their ranks. He was pro-freedom (the whole of valley is), gentle and benign. Why would anyone kill him?
The answer is as much of a riddle as the question itself. You never know who kills whom in this part of the world. Never. There are only blames and counter-blames. The French have a word for it -- jeu du blame – which roughly amounts to the blame-game. The pattern is patented in Kashmir.
Cops will blame the Laskhar in a split-second. Separatists will throw it back, hollering: agents, agents -- which is like an abstract for Indian intelligence chaps in the valley. Both sides may occasionally say: vested interests, which basically means anyone and no one: Indian sleuths, militants, renegades, hired-assassins. No one comprehends the confusing voices. They are unsettling.
In the contretemps of competing narratives that we often find ourselves caught up in, the larger picture often gets blurred. It is such a tragedy that we must lose our distinguished people, like ninepins in this anarchy. Just because the Maulana chose to believe in a set of values dear to him or said something he wanted to, someone bumped him off.
There isn’t a curse more forlorn than cutting the heads of the kind.