Srinagar, May 13: There is an “undeclared internal war” going on in Kashmir, the Mehbooba Mufti-led government is just a “farce”, and the state is on the brink of breaking apart – these and many other arguments formed a damning article written by former Union Minister P Chidambaram.
Titled ‘Across the aisle: India is failing the test on J-K, the article published by The Indian Express on Sunday saw Chidambaram mincing no words while describing the current situation in Kashmir.
His entire argument was based on “six pillars that hold India together” and how they have been “damaged” while dealing with J&K.
One among them was how “the King” was expected to “never raise the sword against his own people”.
“With great sorrow, it must be admitted that there is an undeclared internal war in the Kashmir Valley. The muscular, militaristic approach to quell dissent (including stone-pelting) has pushed the Valley to the brink of disaster…The PDP-BJP coalition government lacks even a shred of legitimacy, yet the Chief Minister will not end the farce that is becoming a tragedy,” Chidambaram said.
Among other “damaged pillars”, Chidambaram listed, was the Constitutional provision to the state.
Article 370, he said, was an historical compact between the Union of India and the Ruler of the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir.
“Is it the intention to breach that agreement or ask for the repeal of the new Article 30 or 40 years hence?” he asked.
The “apolitical” nature of armed forces was yet another “pillar” that did not stood as it should have been in Kashmir.
Chidambaram referred to the antithesis between the recent all-party meet in J&K on ceasefire (and how it resolved to call upon the Government of India on it) and the Army Chief’s statement declaring “Azadi is never going to happen.”
“The Army Chief defined Azadi (according to his perception) and warned ‘Azadi is not going to happen, never… If you want to fight us, then we will fight you with all our force’. Was that the Central government’s official answer to the demand for a unilateral ceasefire?” he asked.
The other “damaged pillar”, according to him, was “the Council of Ministers will be collectively responsible to the legislature and the people.”
Exposing the fault-lines between the alliance partners, Chidambaram opined that the Council of Ministers in J&K was “hopelessly divided” with one half acting as if it were the government of Jammu and the other half as if it were the government of Kashmir.
“Even as the Chief Minister demanded a unilateral ceasefire from Ramzan till Eid, the Deputy Chief Minister said “a ceasefire cannot be implemented from only one side,” he said.
The other pillar – every executive action will be responsible action – “stood on its head” in J&K, Chidambaram wrote.
“In J&K every executive action is an impulsive and insincere action. From inviting the Prime Minister of Pakistan to the swearing-in of the new government in May 2014 to the impromptu visit of Narendra Modi to the nuptials of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s granddaughter in December 2015 to the despatch of an all-party delegation to J&K in September 2016 to the triumphal announcement of a cross-border action (the so-called ‘surgical strike’) by the Army in end-September 2016 to the appointment of an interlocutor in October 2017, there was not one decision that was part of a well-thought-out policy.”
As such, he said, no one in Kashmir believed in the sincerity of the government of India.
“As every day passes, I despair more. All that India, as a nation, has stood for —unity, integrity, pluralism, religious tolerance, a government accountable to the people, dialogue to resolve differences etc — are on test in J&K. India, as a nation, is failing the test,” he concluded.
Guv reaches out to Hurriyat:’ I’m no alien, contact me directly in case of injustice’
Jammu, Jan 15: J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik Tuesday reached out to the Hurriyat leaders in Kashmir urging them to apprise him directly of the cases of “atrocity and injustice” to common people that they may come across.
Malik made the offer with an appeal that the Hurriyat Conference leaders should not treat him as “an alien”.
“I have a message for Hurriyat that they should not consider me as an alien,” Governor Malik told news agency PTI in an interview.
“As far as Hurriyat is concerned, I have respect for them, even though their ideology is different from mine. They have a different ideology and I have a different one,” the governor added.
Promising to treat Hurriyat leaders’ complaints with due urgency, the governor said, “If they (Hurriyat) feel there is any atrocity (by troops or police), they can contact me on phone or send a person to me.”
“I will treat them (and their complaints) the way I am treating the rest of the people,” said the governor, maintaining that he has opened up the Raj Bhawan for all.
In his first-ever statement aimed at building bridges between Hurriyat leaders and the Raj Bhawan, Malik also expressed hope that “at some level, there will be talks too” with them at some time.
Explaining that he has always been hearing out the people of Jammu and Kashmir, Malik said, “I take all calls including those from common people of the state. My mobiles and WhatsApp have never been silent. All those complaints which come to me on WhatsApp, I have tried to address them.”
The governor even attended a few calls from general public during the interview itself.
Malik said he even often sends officials from Raj Bhawan to collect the complaints of aggrieved individuals, even if they may not be so pressing or urgent.
Malik emphasised that in his dealings, his opinion is based not merely on official briefings but on narratives of the common people as well.
“I have met all political leaders and keep meeting them regularly,” he said, adding he has also met several delegations of common people and youth groups, “opening himself to them and hearing them out”.
“There is a need to establish contact with them and work according to their aspirations so that they understand that the Centre is not against them,” he added.
Malik said during his short tenure in the office, he has received and resolved thousands of complaints and grievances and has given directions to his advisors to address them as soon as possible.
The grievance cell of Jammu and Kashmir administration has resolved over 40,000 of the complaints registered so far by it.
Since the imposition of the Governor’s rule in the state on June 20, the grievance cell has received 41,716 complaints, of which 40,457 have been dealt with, officials said.
These complaints have been forwarded to the quarters concerned for timely resolution, they said, adding that 877 complaints were “under process”.
The three advisors to the governor have been regularly meeting and hearing the grievances both in Srinagar and Jammu, they said.
GoI should talk to militants too: Mehbooba
‘People don’t hate PDP; they’re just upset with it’
Srinagar, Jan 15: Terming local militants as “sons of soil”, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti Tuesday said efforts should be made to save them, adding the Government of India (GoI) should initiate dialogue with the militant leadership in Kashmir to end the “gun culture”.
“Right now, talks should be held with Pakistan and separatists. Similarly, the militant leadership should also be talked to as it is they who have the guns and only they can end the gun culture,” she told reporters in Anantnag after a party function.
“I believe at some stage, talks will have to be held with Hurriyat Conference and militants as well,” she said.
Mehbooba said local militants should be prevented from walking on the path of violence.
“Right from the time I came into politics in 1996, I have been saying that local militants are sons of the soil and our maximum efforts should be to save them because they are assets.
“If an encounter breaks out, the two people (militants and security forces) come face to face and no one can do anything about it then,” she said.
The PDP leader said that people of Kashmir “are upset with us but don’t hate us” for the party’s decision to align with BJP.
“We aligned with BJP to resolve the issue of Kashmir, our party is created for resolution of Kashmir issue, not to come to power,” she said.
“We are sure sooner people will understand why we joined hands with BJP and leave their grudge aside,” Mehbooba added.
On those who left the party, Mehbooba said that they were always against her and that they were the ones to woo BJP in 2016 after her father’s death.
“Those who left the party went to BJP and asked them to form a government because they had a lust for power. If I had not aligned with BJP, God knows what these leaders would have compromised to come into power,” the former BJP ally said.
On her statement on civilian killings that was criticised, she reiterated that she was “just being a mother”.
On rehabilitation of militant families, Mehbooba said that she has always been visiting those who have been affected in the conflict.
“I have been visiting affected families since the incident of Machil encounter,” Mehbooba stated.
On Farooq Abdullah’s statement on operation all out, she said that during National conference rule the former chief minister said that fake encounters were on rise.
“Thank God! there was no fake encounter during our rule,” she said.
In Kulgam, Omar trains guns at Guv, Mehbooba
‘Kuka Parrey would have been CM had my father not fought ‘96 polls; Guv should leave politics to us; As CM, Mehbooba could have done much more for militants’
Srinagar, Jan 15: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and vice-president National Conference (NC) Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said that Governor Satya Pal Malik’s job was not to interfere in state politics but to make the situation favourable for the elections so that people are able to take part in electoral process again.
“Governor (SP Malik) Sahab’s job is not to interfere in the politics here. Politics is our job. The sole responsibility of the Governor and his administration is to make the situation favourable to conduct elections so that people will once again take part in the election process,” Omar said during a rally in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
Criticising the governor for his remark that there is no ‘Operation All-out’ in Kashmir, Omar said people are now confused as “on one hand we listen to (words like) operation all-out from the army and on another, we hear from the Governor that there was no such operation.”
“We will never support such operation where the people will suffer the most. The crackdowns, killings or excesses, whatever you will name them, even then we won’t support such operations,” Omar said.
He said that it needed to be understood what was forcing youth to take to militancy.
“We would like to understand these things and would try to address them accordingly,” Omar added.
Later while taking to reporters, the NC vice-president said had his party and former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah not contested 1996 election in the state then the notorious militant-turned renegade Kuka Parray would have been chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Nobody can deny this or even I can’t prove it, this is my belief that if Farooq Sahab and NC would not have contested 1996 elections then Kuka Parray would have been J&K CM. Whether or not anybody accepts this, it is up to them,” Omar said.
On PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, Omar said as J&K Chief Minister she could have done more for such families, but at that time she completely forgot them.
“She could have done well for these families when she was heading a government. She had good relations with Prime Minister. She was calling Defence Minister on phone and was also heading a powerful Unified Command,” he said.
“But at that time she never bothered to visit them,” he said adding: “Now, when she has nothing with her, and her party is in shambles, she is visiting these families,” Omar said.
On former IAS officer Shah Faesal, the NC vice-president said that it is for him to decide where he wants to go now after quitting his job.
“It’s his choice now where to go. If he wants to join NC then definitely we will discuss it. As Shah Faesal has quit his service for the people of Kashmir, it is he who has to decide how to work for the people,” he said.
He hoped that south Kashmir would give his party another chance in the next assembly elections.