Prospect of peace in Kashmir post APD visit
S. Narinder Singh
After meeting 30 delegations, the much publicised visit of 26-member All Party (APD) delegation, led by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, reached a conclusion that Kashmir is a national priority, which calls for a solution. The APD members urged the delegations, comprising political parties, social, religious, trade organisations, educationists, besides various other members of the civil society to suggest measures for restoration of peace and normalcy in Kashmir.
As usual the delegations met with a hostile atmosphere, especially when some of the members went to call on Hurriyat Conference supremo Syed Ali Shah Geelani. He contemptuously shut his doors at them. This was a most embarrassing moment for the non-BJP group, caught on camera. The Hurriyat had earlier rejected the invitation held out by Mehbooba Mufti in her capacity as President PDP contemptuously. Anyway, in their discussions with delegations, the APD heard their point of views but did not spell out the solution, if any.
Around the time, the APD was in the Valley, protesters virtually went on rampage and set ablaze mini secretariat at Shopian, housing the office of DC. They also attacked the house of MLA Tral. The visit of APD to Kashmir was just an eyewash by the BJP led NDA, which is grappling with criticism of huge number of deaths, injuries to thousands and destruction of property. Before winding up its visit to Srinagar and Jammu, the APD urged the government to take steps for making government offices functional, reopening of schools and commercial establishments. Indeed a tall order and inflated expectation.
Giving her assessment of the situation to the visiting APD, the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti tried to play politics by saying that the current unrest and turmoil could not be compared with 2008 and 2010 happenings. She claimed that 95 per cent people of the valley are peace loving and it is only that 5 per cent holding Kashmir to ransom. She said only a few people were attempting to vitiate the atmosphere by creating disturbances. Moreover, she also claims that most people of the valley wants to open their shops to earn livelihood and send their children to educational institutions but question arises who stops them. It is always the responsibility of the elected govt. to mitigate the sufferings of the people but at present educational institutions, shops are closed, trade and industry including tourism is suffering. There is no attendance or poor attendance in the govt. offices including the secretariat, the seat of the govt. Since the situation does not show any sign of getting back to normal, Mehbooba Mufti is blaming her adversaries about vitiating the atmosphere. Instead of effective tackling the unrest, she is seen laying foundation stones and undertaking inaugurations away from the Valley. Scared of the problems in Kashmir, she rushes to Delhi for help. Confusing signals are emanating from the present dispensation in the State. Her posturing has been confusing and contradictory.
On ground zero, visibility of the government is not to be seen anywhere. In view of the present situation there is urgent need to impose Governor Rule but the centre will never allow this because for the first time in history of J and K, BJP has come into power with alliance due to Modi wave. While PDP seems in a demoralisation mode, the BJP is trumpeting that the present dispensation will complete its full term. This has hugely impacted governance. Except for reshuffling hundreds of employees, especially in the departments like education, health, engineering, revenue, police, forest, the development is not to be seen anywhere. Administrative inertia is galore.
What could be the insensitivity of the present dispensation that while Mehbooba Mufti was enjoying scooty ride with college girls in Jammu, the terrorists were calling shots. To cope up with the situation, army on its part kept strengthening security grid in South Kashmir, especially in Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantanag to re-establish the authority of the government.
The ongoing unrest in the Valley has taken toll of PDP. The party is getting isolated in its stronghold. Its one of the founding leader, Tariq Hameed Karra has already quit the PDP and is set to relinquish his Lok Sabha seat. Former Dy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Beig has put the Chief Minister on notice that if BJP fails to implement Agenda of Alliance, she has no option but to say good-bye to alliance. In one of his TV interviews, Beig has admitted that PDP stands alienated in the Valley.
Problems for the PDP-BJP dispensation are increasing with each passing day. The unrest has entered its 84th day while Syed Ali Shah Geelani has extended the protest calendar till 6th October. The secretariat employees too have revolted, saying they cannot put their personal security in jeopardy by attending the offices. The situation has further surcharged after the Uri terror attack. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief’s Kashmir centric speech has further boosted the morale of anti-India elements, especially the Geelani led Hurriyat. Geelani has gone out of way in eulogising Islamabad as a friend and New Delhi as occupier. This bonhomie strengthens the perception that Pakistan in connivance with its lackeys in the Valley wants to continue the present phase of turmoil with tagline ‘now or never’. The people have been made to believe that Kashmir is just inching towards Azadi, which is why the youth in particular are increasingly joining street protests.
The reports that the separatists were enjoying various concessions like security, free travel, lodging and medicare at the expense of poor tax-payer has not cut much ice with the people, who are being told that it is just propaganda of the Indian government to malign the so-called movement.
In such a scenario, the government, the civil society, the mainstream political parties and all the right thinking people will have to come together to break the nexus between separatists and their Pakistani mentors if Kashmir is to be saved from present crisis. The plea of the Kashmiri leaders that pellet gun should not be used on the mob as the innocent people are injured/killed. It is not understood how the leaders treat these stone pelters who attack security forces and police stations as innocent. It is for the law and enforcing agencies to see what type of weapon/method is to be used to curb the antinational elements and killers of humanity whether pellet gun or chilly grenade or AK-47 depending upon the situation is to be used. They should not sympathize those indulged in anti-national and terrorist activities as they are paid agents of ISI.
While anti-national elements and militants are needed to be tackled sternly, extra caution will have to be maintained to avoid collateral damage. This is also required to foil the designs of separatists and mentors of the present crisis. The loss of nearly 90 lives and injuries to thousands of people has bruised the overall Kashmir psyche. It needs a healing balm to restore peace and normalcy.
(The autori is a former Director Information)