People in J&K still have lots of hope

People in J&K still have lots of hope

The year 2015 started with a lot of hope for the people of Jammu and Kashmir as after the devastation of September 2014 deluge, they had hoped that the new government will take over soon and redress their problems. However, the results of Assembly elections which threw a fractured mandate ensured that there was no government in place till March.

The governor’s rule was imposed on January 9 after the Assembly election results on December 23, 2014 threw up a hung Assembly with no party or combination of parties able to stake claim for the government formation.

The year also started with Pakistani troops targeting Indian forward posts and civilian areas along the International Border forcing thousands of border villagers to abandon their houses and migrate to safer places. The situation remained more or less the same till September when military commanders of both the countries met and decided to put an end to ceasefire violations on borders. In February, the negotiations between the PDP and the BJP over forming a coalition government gained momentum and both the parties agreed to contest Rajya Sabha polls for four seats in the state in alliance. However, despite the PDP-BJP contesting the Upper House polls in alliance, Congress heavy weight Ghulam Nabi Azad defeated alliance candidate by a narrow margin of two votes. The other three seats went to PDP and BJP candidates.

After departure from their respective stated positions, the PDP-BJP government took the reins of power in J&K on March 1 with PDP patriarch, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed taking oath as Chief Minister. However, fissures surfaced within the alliance just after a week as Mufti ordered release of hardline separatist leader Masrat Alam Bhat from the prison. The saffron party slammed the “unilateral” decision and warned that such things would not be tolerated in future.

In April, succumbing to the pressure of alliance partner BJP, PDP-led government arrested Masarat Alam on “seditious charges.” In May, another controversy emerged between the PDP and the BJP over the issuance of passport to hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani. While the BJP maintained that octogenarian separatist leader should acknowledge he is an Indian and apologize for his anti-national activities before the passport is issued to him, the PDP said the issue should not be politicized.

In last week of May and early June, militants tried to impose a ban on operations of cellular companies in north Kashmir and killed several people associated with the trade.
The annual Amarnath yatra which began on July 2 was suspended several times during the month due to inclement weather conditions. On August 5, a Pakistani terrorist was caught alive after militants attacked paramilitary BSF convoy on Jammu-Srinagar national highway near Udhampur killing two troopers and injuring 11 others.

On August 15 in Srinagar, bitter political rivals, Omar Abdullah the former CM and Mehbooba Mufti, the president of ruling PDP were seen sharing some lighter moments during Independence Day function in Srinagar. In September the Army’s Northern Command confirmed the life sentence awarded to six of its personnel, including two senior officers, for killing three civilians in a fake encounter on LoC more than five years back. During the month, Jammu and Kashmir High Court’s verdict to ban sale of beef put the volatile State on the edge. However, in October the High Court vacated the September 8 order of its Jammu wing which had called for strict enforcement of Dogra era law banning slaughter of bovines and sale of beef in the state. In November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Srinagar promised a central package of Rs 80,000 crore to boost the economic growth in Jammu and Kashmir.

As India and Pakistan agreed to re-initiate the comprehensive dialogue process in December this year, it has generated a lot of hope in Kashmir that the coming year will see peace and prosperity.

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