The gruesome murder of three special police officers at Shopian in Kashmir has raised more serious issues of politics than the ordinary terrorist-security forces stand –off which the valley has been witnessing for decades now. The sheer brutality of the killings has been preceded by a daring threat by Hijbul Mujahideen asking the policemen of Kashmir either to post their resignation letters online or face the worst. That they were able to carry out the threat with impunity proves that the law and machinery in the troubled State is in tatters. Worse still, nothing appears to be left of the intelligence network. What is even more shocking is that the administration and the police top brass did not think it fit to ramp up security arrangements even after the Union Home Ministry had expressed apprehension about the fall-out of the Hijbul video warning, released a day after an Army jawan had been done in by the terrorist outfit. It would be naive to expect that the morale of the police would remain unshaken after such an incident in which the police officers were dragged out of their homes and shot dead at a distance away in an orchard. It was for the second time that the policemen had become the targets of the militants. Only three weeks ago, three other policemen and eight of their relatives were kidnapped in south Kashmir. Evidently, the terrorists must have read these incidents as signs of weakness which they wanted to exploit to the hilt in their subsequent strikes. These incidents give a clear indication that the militants have a free run of the valley in spite of the claims by the authorities that they are on the defensive in the face of the security forces gaining the upper hand. The roots of this mayhem must be traced to the unseemly haste in which the BJP-led NDA chose to withdraw its support to the Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP alliance government. The BJP must have set much store by going it alone in the upcoming elections to the local civic bodies and the panchayats in the State in October and November. The absence of a popular government and the clamping of the President’s Rule in the State has apparently rebounded on the ruling NDA at the Centre. Mehbooba can hardly be faulted for pointing out that the Centre’s so-called muscular policies were not working and what was needed was a meaningful dialogue which, she admitted, was a distant dream. It is to be hoped that the Centre will start thinking out of the box and come up with a viable solution to end this chilling blood-letting in Kashmir.