PDP, NC failed Valley

PDP, NC failed Valley

Kashmir

Kashmiri villagers schouts during a funeral procession of a two youths including a teenage girl at Kulgam, south of Srinagar on July 7, 2018. Troops shot dead three stone-throwing protesters including a 16-year-old girl in Kashmir.

The withdrawal of support to the PDP-led government by the BJP led to the establishment of governor’s rule in the state. The assembly was suspended, not dissolved, keeping options open for the formation of a government by any party, which can break other political parties. All state parties, less the BJP, have demanded dissolution of the assembly, mainly to safeguard their MLAs from being poached. The National Conference’s (NC) Omar Abdullah even went on to add that the present environment in South Kashmir is not conducive to holding elections, thus indirectly supporting the imposition of governor’s rule.

In a statement on Martyrs’ Day last weekend, Mehbooba Mufti warned the BJP against breaking her party, which appears to be the weakest now, and forming a government. She warned the Centre that this could give birth to new terrorists in the state. She stated that it could lead to a situation akin to 1987, when the Muslim United Front was repressed by the rigging of the polls.

Omar Abdullah countered Mehbooba by stating that not one new militant would be created by the splitting of the PDP. His opinion was that the PDP was formed in Delhi to split the Kashmiri vote. The BJP, on the other hand, has denied any such attempt.

The sad thing about Kashmir Valley-based political parties, whether the NC or PDP, is that they have failed the very people that voted them to power. They should have been at the forefront, whether in power or not, seeking to assuage the masses from the false and fake propaganda flowing from Pakistan and the Hurriyat, thereby saving innocent civilian casualties.

It was the PDP which forced the Centre to slow down probes by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into the money laundering cases involving the Hurriyat. The initial investigation and demonetisation had suddenly brought down levels of stone pelting in the valley. However, as the ED and NIA were forced to halt their investigations, money flow recommenced, stone pelting and violence increased. This was evident when the NIA and ED moved in immediately after governor’s rule was imposed.

Farooq Abdullah has been regularly jumping from one position to the other. At times, he has supported the Hurriyat in their demands, at times he has opposed them. Never has he or his party sought to engage with the youth, seeking to allay their false dreams of ‘Azadi’. The combined failure of political parties from the Valley has led to the present situation.

It was Farooq again who fired up passions in the Valley when he challenged the government on its decision not to contest the case against Article 35A in the Supreme Court. He stated in a rally that removal of Article 35A would see levels of violence never witnessed before. Mehbooba Mufti, afraid of being sidelined in the Valley, directed the state attorney general to fight the case on behalf of the state. Both these parties failed to realise that the Article affects not the Valley alone, but the rest of the state, which would be keen to see the end of it.

Many youth could have been prevented from joining militancy had the state government decided to ban public burials of militants killed or of those involved in pelting stones. These were the launchpads for inducting fresh recruits into the system. It is only after the imposition of governor’s rule that the police have begun imposing restrictions on burials. It now may be too late, however.

It is these political parties that restricted the police from operating at will to curb the growing militancy. This was evident when the present DGP of the state stated in an interview after the imposition of governor’s rule that the police would now be free to act. This is not the first time when the state has required governor’s rule to curb rising militancy. It has happened in the past, too. However, post-2015 elections and the formation of a Valley-centred government, the situation has again become grim.

Mute spectators

State governments should have interacted with the youth, opened avenues to them and weaned them away from the influence of the Hurriyat. Neither political party from the Valley even attempted to do this during their tenures. They remained mute spectators while the Valley slid downhill. Never once did any Valley politician criticise the umpteen calls for hartals and bandhs given by the Hurriyat. It indicated to the common Indian that Valley political leaders were under Hurriyat influence, rather than being national figures who could change the future of the state.

Presently, both parties are more than willing to sit idle and let the security forces under governor’s rule restore normalcy. Their statements that the condition in the Valley is unsuitable for elections only shows their desire to stay away and let civilian casualties rise, while they like the Hurriyat to stay safe and away.

It is possibly time that a party whose majority hold is in the plains sought to take over the reins of the state. It would give the state a fresh perspective and support security forces in restoring normalcy. They would not be worried about their vote banks in the Valley, since they don’t have one. Simultaneously, they would come down hard on the Hurriyat as they do not depend on them for survival.

There are occasions when an unfamiliar perspective can bring forth the change where the tried and tested have failed. Thus, if the BJP can muster a majority, it should attempt to form the government. It has no hold in the Valley, and hence may prove beneficial in restoring order. 

(The writer is a retired Major General)

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