Kashmir Has Come Out Of Shadows: Omar

27 August 2009
The Hindustan Times
Arun Joshi

Jammu: Kashmir has come out of dark and black shadows of fear and terror and the latest proof is in tens of thousands of people thronging the tourist resorts across the Valley during a long week-end, August 14-16. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah cited the visit of 2.5 lakh picnickers to Pahalgam, 1.5 lakh to Gulmarg and many others to Sonmarg during the long week-end before and after the Independence Day, August 15, as an evidence of “enormous change in the situation' in the Kashmir Valley. Is this 'fear psychosis”, he questioned the PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti in the legislative Assembly in Srinagar on Thursday. He was replying to debate on the grants of departments under him – Home, General Administration, Planning and Power. Mehbooba had launched a scathing attack on the Omar Abdullah government on Wednesday while participating in the debate and had accused it of having brought back the dark days of “fear and terror”, when the youth went missing and the parents were the worried lot . She also had sought removal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act and thinning of the troops presence from the Valley, where orchards, fields and buildings were looking like multiple garrisons. TV footage showed Omar reading from a sheaf of papers in his hands, having comparative statistics of the incidents of violence and that of the human rights abuses, during his nearly eight–month rule and that of the three-year rule of the PDP-led coalition government from 2002 to 2005 in a measured tone. Dismantling the theory of rise in terror through the statistics - 83 per cent decline in cross firing, 88 per cent in random firing and 53 cases of killings as against 517 during the PDP rule. 'Please tell me how could 517 killings offer a period of relaxed atmosphere and 57 as that of fear and terror,” he went on to ask. Many faces in the treasury benches were smiling as Omar was lashing out at the opposition - some of them were ministers in the 2002-2005 Mufti Sayeed government too. PDP and Congress were ruling partners from 2002 to 2008. Omar admitted that his government has not been able to ensure zero human rights abuses since it took over in January 2009. “There have been certain unfortunate incidents, but we have acted against them and the guilty were punished,” he said and pointed toward the action that the government’s reaction to killing of two civilians in the February 21 Bomai, Sopore, 40 Kms north of Srinagar, two soldiers were booked for the crime.