By Mudassir Kuloo
Srinagar, Apr 03: The PDP-BJP government is going to complete its controversies-hit two years under Mehbooba Mufti on April 4.
Mehbooba took over as the Chief Minister of the state in 2016.
On the eve of the second anniversary of her rise to the throne, the government, or Mehbooba’s party PDP, doesn’t seem to be in the mood to celebrate the occasion, which could come as a reminder of the controversies that overshadowed the coalition’s governance since 2015.
Soon after taking over as the Chief Minister, Mehbooba faced her first test at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar, where non-Kashmiri students engaged in fierce clashes over a cricket match.
The incident became a national issue and the institute needed to be shut for weeks.
The killing of five persons in north Kashmir’s Handwara town during the protests against the alleged molestation of a girl by an army soldier followed.
Strict curfew was imposed in parts of the valley and clampdown on the mobile internet services.
Soon after, a controversy triggered over the government’s proposal to establish Sainik and Pandit colonies.
The implementation of the controversial National Food Security Act (NFSA) was a serious challenge for the PDP-BJP government, which, too, turned into a law and order problem situation in the state.
Mehbooba-led government faced its toughest phase when Hizbul Mujahidin commander Burhan Wani and his two accomplices were killed in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on July 8, 2016.
It sparked one of the biggest uprisings in Kashmir, lasting six months.
Mehbooba earned ridicule by stating at a presser: “Those hit by bullets or pellets had not gone to fetch milk or toffees.”
In September 2016, PDP Srinagar MP and the party’s founder member, Tariq Hameed Karra, left both his Lok Sabha seat and the PDP, terming its alliance with the BJP “unnatural and unethical”.
Mehbooba’s statement also triggered a massive controversy when she called all those demanding abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution “anti-national”.
The BJP slammed her statement, following which the Speaker Kavinder Gupta directed to expunge her remarks from the Assembly records.
The leaders of Mehbooba’s alliance partner also made several remarks on Article 370, human rights violations, internet ban, sparking controversies in the state.
On July 24, 2017, the NIA arrested seven Hurriyat leaders. It has been reported that Chief Minister was not in favour of the crackdown.
“You cannot kill an idea. You cannot jail an idea. Reconciliation and dialogue are the only way. Guns, violence and arrests are not a solution,” she had said.
There have been other Centre-led moves seen as “threatening” J&K’s special status, including the extension of the Goods & Services Tax to the state. The special status of J&K was back in focus when in July last year, the Centre sought a “larger debate” over Article 35A even as the J&K government opposed any challenge to it.
Mehbooba, who even reached out to arch rival Farooq Abdullah of the NC on the matter, warned, “If the special constitutional status of J&K is tampered with, or the Permanent Resident Act (35A) removed, there will be no one to shoulder the Indian flag in the Valley.”
The by-polls of Srinagar parliamentary witnessed only 6.5 percent voting, with killing of several civilians and scores injured by government forces.
Following which, it was decided not to hold by-polls of Anantnag Lok Sabha seat.
The PDP led government faced an embarrassment when the Centre gave award to army Major Leetul Gogoi who used a civilian as a human shield.
The appointment of the Centre’s representative was seen as a big outreach by the BJP to the Mehbooba government.
Although the Centre has limited the scope of what Dineshwar Sharma, a former IB chief, can do — underlining that he is just a “representative of the government and not the interlocutor”.
On January 27 this year, when three civilians were killed in army firing in Shopian, the J&K Police filed an FIR as part of routine practice, which was opposed by the BJP.
On February 14, after a group of people led by a BJP leader took out a protest in favour of an accused Hindu police official in the case, the CM tweeted: “Appalled by the marches & protests in defense of the recently apprehended rapist in Kathua. Also horrified by their use of our national flag… this is nothing short of desecration.”
Government also faced criticism when son of a senior PDP leader’s name figured in the list of appointees in Khadi Village Industries Board.
The Chief Minister also dropped Haseeb Drabu from the council of ministers, who was a main architect of the PDP-BJP government.
Just a few days ahead of the completion of two years, 13 militants, four civilians, and three army men were killed in three encounters in south Kashmir; scores of civilians were injured in the protests that are yet to cease.
The government had also failed to hold panchayat and urban local body elections.
Political expert, Professor Rekha Chowdhary said the present dispensation faced a “lot of controversies” since they formed the government.
“It was for the first time when two parties of different ideologues came together and formed the government,” she said.
Opposition National Conference’s General Secretary, Ali Mohammad Sagar, claimed that “no development” took place in the PDP-BJP government.
“The present government did nothing for the state. It gave only bullets, pellets. There is no end of killings. Their Agenda of Alliance has remained confined to papers only,” Sagar said.
“What the PDP-BJP did for youth of the state? What about releasing of political prisoners? This government disappointed the people of the state.”
Senior Congress leader, G N Monga said that PDP-BJP government had “failed” on all fronts.
“Killings continue. There is no development on the ground. There has to be a dialogue to address issues,” Monga said.
While the alliance partners claimed that a “lot of good things” were done in the PDP-BJP government.
BJP State Spokesperson, Arun Kumar Gupta said that alliance was running as per its ‘Agenda of Alliance’.
“The state has witnessed a huge development in past few years, which cannot be compared with 60-years rule,” Gupta said.
The development, he said was “visible everywhere”.
“Bridges, hospitals, educational institutions, are being building up in all three regions of the state. Execution of development works has been started but will take time to get the things done,” he added.
PDP spokesperson, Rafi Ahmad Mir, said that Mehbooba herself remained available to general public.
“She held meetings in districts and also monitored the works,” Mir said.
“There has been huge development by construction of new roads, macdamisation, new schools, and educational institutions infrastructure has been upgraded,” he said.
He said the government provided a lot of job opportunities to unemployed youth of the state.
On dialogue with Pakistan and Hurriyat, he said that state “could not do much due to unfavourable situation”.
“Interlocutor has been appointed by the Centre and amnesty has been announced to 10,000 stone pelters. But the killings that took place are very unfortunate,” he said.
He said that Chief Minister did not succumb to the pressure on Kuthua incident from her alliance partner for handing over case to the CBI.
“She stood firm and said that case should be investigated thoroughly,” he said, “There will be no celebration on completion of two-year-rule of Mehbooba. If you do something for people, it is the biggest celebration.”
Upcoming elections: BJP banks on ‘some friends’ in JK
Jammu, Jan 20: BJP general secretary Ram Madhav on Sunday said while his party would most likely go it alone in the upcoming Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections, it would form a “stable government with some friends” in the state after the polls.
He said his party would contest all seats in the state.
“There is the least possibility of a pre-poll alliance with any party for the assembly elections in the state. The BJP will emerge (as) the largest party after the elections and will give a stable government to the people with some friends,” Madhav told reporters here.
Due to the special circumstances in the state, “we have no hesitation in joining hands with others” to form the government, he said.
Talking about the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) erstwhile ruling alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he said, “After elections we formed an alliance, but today again the BJP is going it alone in the elections.”
The BJP leader said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will kick start the party’s campaign for upcoming parliamentary and assembly polls in the state during his visit on February 3.
“While the parliamentary elections are scheduled for April-May, the BJP is ready for the assembly polls in the state as well. It is up to the Election Commission to decide whether the two polls are held together or separately,” Madhav said.
The Election Commission had in November last said fresh elections in Jammu and Kashmir would be held within the next six months. The state is currently under President’s rule.
Madhav dismissed allegations that the BJP did not favour assembly polls in the state.
“There is no truth in the rumours being spread that the BJP is not in favour of early assembly polls in the state,” he said.
He claimed some other parties wanted the polls to be deferred as they feared losing.
Asked about the PDP expelling former minister Altaf Bukhari, Madhav said, “I don’t want to talk about internal matters of another political party, but I must underscore one point here that he is the same leader who was projected as the chief minister of the combined opposition when they (PDP, Congress and National Conference) were trying to form the government in the state just a couple of months ago.”
Speaking about rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, Madhav said the BJP has prepared a roadmap for the community’s return and rehabilitation and it will be implemented only when the situation in the Valley turns conducive.
“We had identified land at five places in the Valley for pandit townships. But due to various reasons, it could not materialize, the biggest being the prevailing security situation in the Valley,” he said.
The BJP leader said the party was bound by its promise to Kashmiri Pandits and when the situation improves, it will take the community’s leadership into confidence and move forward.
PM to visit JK on Feb 3; BJP expects 2 lakh turnout in Jammu rally
Jammu, Jan 20: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Jammu and Kashmir on February 3 to lay the foundation stone for and inaugurate various projects in all three regions of the state, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said on Sunday.
He said Modi will lay the foundation stone for and inaugurate projects worth Rs 35,000 crore and Rs 9,000 crore in Jammu and Kashmir, respectively, during his visit.
“The prime minister is visiting the state next month and will visit Leh, Jammu and Srinagar. He will address a mega rally in Jammu in which over two lakh people are expected to turn up,” Madhav told reporters here.
He said Modi will lay the foundation stone for AIIMS, IIM, IIT, Jammu-Akhnoor road, Shahpur-Kandi road, Sunderbani College, and IIMC in Jammu during his visit.
The prime minister will also inaugurate an engineering college in Kathua and the Jammu ropeway project, he added.
Responding to a question, the BJP general secretary said, “We tried to take forward many projects being part of the previous government, like AIIMS. It was due to our efforts that we brought one AIIMS for Jammu even when in rest of the country only one AIIMS was given to each state.”
Madhav alleged that several projects were delayed due to the Peoples Democratic Party — the BJP’s coalition partner in the erstwhile state government.
“We undertook many projects like this. However, the coalition partner used to slow down the process, otherwise it could have been done earlier,” he said.
He said the BJP will continue its efforts to ensure all-round development in the three regions of the state.
The party was also making efforts to ensure reservation for the Pahari speaking people and divisional status for the region of Ladakh, Madhav said.
“We are making a demand to the governor administration to grant reservation to the Pahari people, who are mostly residing in Jammu, and the divisional status to Ladakh before the prime minister’s visit to the state,” he said.
He asked party leaders and workers to work hard for to make Modi’s visit successful.
Tribal, minority community being targeted in Jammu: Mehbooba
Srinagar, Jan 20: People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti Sunday expressed serious concerns over the selective targeting of the tribal Muslim community in Jammu Division.
Highlighting instances of how the community is being targeted and harassed, Mehbooba, during a presser here, asked the governor’s administration to take immediate measures to restore the confidence of this vulnerable community in the system.
She said that selective eviction notices were served to 33 nomadic families in Jammu after the collapse of government and as recent as December 2018, an anti-encroachment drive against Gujjar and other marginalized Muslim families in Jammu was initiated.
All this despite existing directives issued by her as CM in February 2018, whereby no tribal community was supposed to be disturbed or dislocated till the time the state government formulated a tribal policy.
The directive had also said that if any such an eviction drive was necessary, it should be done after consulting the tribal affairs department.
Mehbooba said that Muslims of Jammu are being openly threatened by communally motivated campaign such as “Ikk Jutt Jammu Maha Adhiveshan (The Save Jammu Crusade)”.
“These drives talk about the dangers posed to the people of Jammu from the growth of Muslim colonies in and around Jammu, and how it is a concerted effort to change its demography. These are reflective of the mindset of the perpetrators of such bigotry,” she said.
“These extremist elements have created fear among fresh settlers by physically targeting individuals in isolated incidents so that they don’t plan permanent settling in Jammu. This is what they have done during the past as well,” she said.
She pointed out that that circle rates in Sunjwan Bathindi areas have been raised to 1.5 crore per kanal while as in chawadi it is 65 lakh per kanal. This, she said, has been done is a deliberate attempt to make purchase of land in areas being inhabited by Muslim in particular difficult.
“Attempts are being made to include all Muslim areas under Jammu municipality so that constructions are stopped on all non-proprietary land and without permission,” she added.
She said that PDP will do “everything to voice their concerns and highlight any bias and marginalization perpetrated by the state”.
She warned the government that giving in to communal designs is like playing with fire in an already politically fragile state.
“Any tinkering with the minorities in Jammu will have a cascading effect in Kashmir and the situation can go out of control. The governor administration must, therefore, be cautious in dealing with this matter,” she said.
Mahagathbandhan alliance of corruption, negativity: PM
Margao (Goa), Jan 20: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday dismissed the Opposition’s show of unity at a rally in Kolkata as an alliance of corruption, negativity and instability, saying while those parties have “money power”, the BJP has “people’s power”.
He also said that seats in educational institutes will be increased to implement the 10 per cent general category quota.
Modi was addressing BJP’s booth-level workers from Lok Sabha constituencies of Kolhapur, Hatkanangle, Madha and Satara in Maharashtra and South Goa through video-conference.
Leaders from over a dozen opposition parties gathered in Kolkata on Saturday and vowed to put up a united fight in the coming Lok Sabha elections and oust Modi from power.
Several opposition leaders at the rally demanded the use of ballot papers instead of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) which, they said, were the source of “all sorts of malpractices”.
Modi said the Opposition was staring at a defeat in forthcoming elections and looking for excuses ahead of their impending loss and thus, were vilifying EVMs.
“You must have seen that one of the leaders who was sharing the dais recalled the Bofors scam. Truth cannot be kept hidden. The Opposition’s mahagathbandhan is an alliance of capitalists, corruption, scams, negativity and instability,” he said.
“The Opposition has ‘dhanshakti’ (money power), we have ‘janshakti’ (people’s power),” he added.
Replying on the query from a booth worker in Kolhapur, Modi said while the Opposition alliance is with political parties, “our alliance is with the dreams of 125 crore Indians and their hopes and aspirations”.
“Those who were on the dais in Kolkata were either son or daughter of a big person or who wanted to make his son or daughter big in politics,” he alleged.
Those who never believed in democracy within their parties were now talking about democracy from a public platform, he said, taking a dig at the Opposition’s rally.
He said such people do not have faith in any institution and are busy defaming constitutional authorities.
“We get worried when some groups take people for granted. They think people are fools. That is why they don’t leave any stone unturned to change their colour… I would like to repeat, this is a dangerous game for the country and a thing to worry about,” Modi commented.
“While on one hand they are busy saving or nurturing their own families, we are busy developing a nation. Our country is our family… Those who start violence against the person contesting against them even at panchayat level, are now singing songs of protecting democracy,” he said.
Modi said the Centre’s decision to provide quota to the economically weaker sections from the general category in education and government jobs has given “sleepless nights” to the Opposition.
“If our decision had no strength, then these people would not have had sleepless nights. They have to get down in the field to spread lies and rumours. This means we have done right work and worked for the country,” he said.
Seeking to allay concerns about lack of seats in educational institutes to accommodate the new quota provision, he said, “I would like to assure that we will increase 10 per cent seats in every educational institution so that despite reservation, everyone will get an opportunity.”
He said the government would ensure that no one faced injustice and that the quota for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes remain intact.
“But with (the new) 10 per cent reservation, new opportunities have been opened up,” the PM asserted.
The government has worked rising above the political interests. “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas has been the focus of our style of functioning,” he said.
He said the BJP had taken such a “historic step” that if any party had to make such a move without researching the Constitution, he would have himself criticised it.
“After researching the Constitution, we made 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker section. They (opposition) have not done anything for social injustice. When we did it, they were caught napping,” he said.
These people are still “unconscious”. When the government has taken a historical step for the larger good of people, it is natural for them to oppose, he said.
“Those who say that I took the decision keeping polls in mind, I want to ask them, when do we not have elections in the country,” the PM questioned.
He said if he had to take the decision three months ago, then people would have claimed he did it keeping in mind elections in five states.
“If I did it before, they would have said I did it for the Karnataka elections, before that they would have said I did it to get benefit in Gujarat elections,” the PM noted.
Before starting the interaction with people of Goa, Modi wished ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar a speedy recovery and called him the “architect of modern Goa”.
“I would like to wish my good friend and Goa’s popular CM and architect of modern Goa, Manohar Parrikar, a speedy recovery. The way he has been working and his zeal towards work has been an inspiration for a party worker like me,” he said.
Appealing BJP workers to strengthen the booths, Modi said the party has given respect to the word ‘worker’.
“Due to earlier governments, the image of a worker was that of a ‘dalal’ (middleman). But, the image of BJP workers is that of ‘maa Bharati ke lal’ (patriots),” he added.