KASH­MIR RIS­ING

The Cen­tre’s ‘no ap­pease­ment’ line puts CM Me­hbooba Mufti in a bind

India Today - - INSIDE - By Asit Jolly

The Cen­tre’s ‘no ap­pease­ment’ pol­icy leaves Me­hbooba Mufti search­ing for op­tions

It was her first real out­ing since the Val­ley erupted in another cy­cle of vi­o­lence on April 9, the day of the Sri­na­gar Lok Sabha by­polls. And though she didn’t spell it out, Chief Min­is­ter Me­hbooba Mufti’s state­ments, as she emerged from a meet­ing with Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi in Delhi on April 24, clearly re­flected her frus­tra­tion.

Me­hbooba em­pha­sised the need for the promised “di­a­logue with all stake­hold­ers”, the main­stay of the PDP-BJP al­liance agenda. Also in­vok­ing for­mer PM A.B. Va­j­payee’s ‘in­saniyat, jamhooriyat, Kash­miriyat’ ap­proach to J&K, she stressed on “pick­ing up the thread where he (Va­j­payee) left it”.

But the Modi govern­ment has ev­i­dently re­fused to play ball, forc­ing the CM to con­cede that “we have to first cre­ate a con­ducive at­mos­phere for di­a­logue, it can­not hap­pen amid

THE CM STRESSED ON RE­SUM­ING AF­TER VA­J­PAYEE’S ‘IN­SANIYAT, JAMHOORIYAT, KASH­MIRIYAT’ LINE

stone-pelt­ing and bul­lets. Even Modiji stressed the need to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion be­fore ini­ti­at­ing talks”.

Me­hbooba is ev­i­dently on the back foot. How­ever un­con­vinc­ing, given the low turnout, Na­tional Con­fer­ence (NC) grandee Fa­rooq Abdullah’s vic­tory in Sri­na­gar (a seat hith­erto held by the PDP) is an in­di­ca­tion that the party is in trou­ble. Many in the Val­ley also view her brother Tas­saduq Mufti’s ap­peal to the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion to de­fer the Anant­nag Lok Sabha by-elec­tion as an ac­knowl­edg­ment of its wan­ing pop­u­lar­ity.

Mean­while, the Cen­tre has re­mained omi­nously silent on the need for re­newed po­lit­i­cal ini­tia­tives. “The BJP govern­ment in Delhi is in no mood to shift from its ‘no ap­pease­ment’ stand and look at Kash­mir as any­thing but a law and or­der prob­lem,” says a se­nior se­cu­rity of­fi­cial who served for sev­eral years in the Val­ley. This was borne out by the high-level meet­ing chaired by Union home min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh on April 24. At­tended by na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vi­sor Ajit Do­val, In­tel­li­gence Bureau chief Ra­jiv Jain and spe­cial sec­re­tary, in­ter­nal se­cu­rity, Rina Mi­tra, the meet­ing de­lib­er­ated on strate­gies to con­tain the spi­ralling vi­o­lence.

Back in Kash­mir, there’s been an up­surge in vi­o­lence with mil­i­tants gun­ning down Ab­dul Gani Dar, the PDP’s Pul­wama dis­trict pres­i­dent. The sec­ond po­lit­i­cal as­sas­si­na­tion in the past week (NC’s Imtiyaz Ah­mad Khan was shot in Shopian on April 17), Dar’s killing, state po­lice of­fi­cials ad­mit, is wor­ry­ingly rem­i­nis­cent of the early 1990s when mil­i­tancy was at its peak.

There was trou­ble in Sri­na­gar too where hun­dreds of school and col­lege stu­dents clashed with po­lice and paramil­i­tary per­son­nel at Lal Chowk. Me­hbooba Mufti had told reporters af­ter meet­ing PM Modi that the com­ing sum­mer would be “cru­cial” for the Val­ley. New Delhi’s em­pha­sis on de­ploy­ing only mil­i­tary and po­lice so­lu­tions, in the ab­sence of any po­lit­i­cal ini­tia­tive, could prove prob­lem­atic.

Cover Pho­to­graph by SOMNATH SEN

STONEWALLED CM Me­hbooba Mufti at the meet­ing with PM Modi in Delhi, April 24

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