From the day insurgency gripped the valley, it took away everything from it. It gradually spread its dark shade over every sector of society. The real legacy of a nation is not based on mere things, but on its intellectuals and scholars. These are the people who provide the community with the understanding, knowledge and direction it so desperately needs. However, from time to time, they too might fall prey to the actions of the state. That is what has happened to Syed Shujaat Bukhari. Over the last few decades, many prominent leaders, academicians and intellectuals, who could have helped pull the Kashmir valley out of this insurgency, have instead been consumed by it. The assassination of Syed Shujaat Bukhari was nothing new. Mirwaiz Molvi Farooq, Abdul Ghani Lone, Molvi Showkat and Mirwaiz Qazi Nisar are just some of the names that have been extinguished by the state. In each instance, the assailant was an unknown gunman whose identity was never revealed. He came in broad daylight, gunned down intellectual after intellectual, and the people just stood and watched as one great man after the other was murdered in cold blood. As expected, the authorities order an investigation in to the killings, yet each time they come up short in providing the public with concrete answers. These façades have been carried out too many times for any of today’s Kashmiris to take them seriously. The teenage boy shot at point-blank range by men in uniform or the other who was mowed down by their vehicle, are still awaiting justice.The fate is the same for Asiya and Nelofer, victims of rape and murder. If these children cannot get any respite then what can you expect for their leaders? Then there is the common practice of labelling the victims and their attackers according to their political leanings. If the slain happened to be pro-Indian, then the killer would definitely be dubbed a militant or Pakistani agent, and similarly if the victim happened to be pro-Pakistan, then the culprit might as well be a ghost. The main question that arises then is this: why do these murders continue to take place one after the other, without any consequences for the killers? While some can pretend to be deaf and dumb, and ignore the main perpetrators behind these reprehensible acts, others have the strength to stand up to the tyrants. Some use the power of the written word as their weapon of choice, just like Syed Shujaat Bukhari. How long are the citizens of Kashmir supposed to just stand idly by, while the cream of their society is mercilessly gunned down in broad daylight? How long before they act? After living under such conditions for such a long time, Kashmiris have come to realise the real menace behind their current way of life. The face behind the mask that threatens this peaceful society has the potential to be either an Indian or a Pakistani. It is the struggle between these two nations that threatens the lives of the people of Kashmir, and has done so for so long. They continue to fight their wars, yet in the end it is the Kashmiris who suffer, and this situation does not seem like it is ending anytime soon, as long as the two countries don’t get what they want. After living under such terrible conditions for such a long time, Kashmiris have come to realise the real menace behind their current predicament; the face behind the mask that threatens this peaceful society is both Indian and Pakistani. It is the struggle between these two nations that threatens Kashmiri lives Bukhari’s death on the eve of Eid was soul shaking and unfortunate. It was another tragedy inflicted on Kashmir by the Indo-Pak conflict. The outpouring of condemnation from around the world spoke volumes about Bukhari’s standing in the international community, especially the press. The writer was one of the more moderate voices in Kashmir, and his sole purpose was the liberation of his people. In him, Kashmir had a son that could have led her to new heights, and an intellectual it takes years to develop. He was the epitome of courage and his reputation always preceded him, whether in Lal Chowk or London. People like him don’t die, but live on through their writing, and the love that people have for them. They simply die to live. This latest attack serves to remind the people of Kashmir about the deplorable conditions they live in today. It doesn’t matter if the martyr is someone in uniform or a class teacher, a common farmer or a famous writer; the loss of life in the end is borne by the Kashmiris themselves. As the wave of mourning travels from one house to the next, the people of this valley keep asking when their misery will come to an end. The author is a student of English Literature at Aligarh Muslim University. He hails from Frisal Kulgam in Kashmir and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, June 30th 2018.