Omar Criticises Centre On J&K Policy, Says He Is No Puppet6 October 2010
The Economic Times
Srinagar: Stung by PDP’s criticism that the Centre was running the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir, chief minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday told the state assembly that he was no “puppet” of Delhi. To drive home his point, Mr Abdullah charged the Centre with not consulting him on reopening of educational institutions in the state and also criticised home secretary G K Pillai for undermining the authority of the state’s institutions by speaking about lifting of curfew from Srinagar. The Centre was hardly amused at Mr Abdullah’s attack, even though the assessment here was that his criticism of New Delhi and its officials was essentially aimed at his local constituency. Sources at the Centre rubbished the chief minister’s claim that he was not consulted on reopening of schools and colleges in the Valley, with an official disclosing that the entire eight-point agenda was read out to him a day before the CCS took it up. Besides, the official pointed out, the Centre had only “requested” the state government, and not “directed” it, to resume classes in schools and colleges. “While four CBMs were to be operationalised by the state government, the Centre was to give shape to the other four points on the agenda,” a senior government functionary pointed out. The functionary also added that the four measures requested from the state government could well have been implemented by Mr Abdullah on his own, and much earlier. “It is entirely within the jurisdiction of the state to reopen schools, release stone-pelters, de-scale the presence of security forces in Srinagar and nearby towns, review PSA detentions and disturbed areas list....why did the Abdullah government have to wait for the Centre to lay down the eight-point agenda before taking these actions,” an official asked, pointing to the governance deficit in the state that has seen over 100 civilians being killed in protests since June. “Rather than making public speeches against the Centre, Mr Abdullah needs to step out and make contact with people on the ground...He must lend a sympathetic ear to their grievances, just like any good politician would,” noted a senior functionary of the Central government. Replying to a debate in the J&K assembly on the law and order situation in the state, Mr Abdullah had lamented that he was not consulted by the Centre on reopening of schools before announcement of the eight-point package for Jammu and Kashmir. “It is wrong to say that the schools were closed for three months and opened only after the package was announced. The schools were functioning in rural areas and closed only in urban areas and we had decided to open these schools even before the announcement of the package from the Centre,” he insisted. The chief minister also made a personal attack against Union home secretary G K Pillai for speaking out of turn. “I have a grievance. There have been some instances where people have talked more than needed. The Union home secretary (G K Pillai) should not have spoken about curfew (on July 9),” he told the state assembly. Mr Pillai had, in an interview to Doordarshan on the eve of Shab-e-Mehraj on July 9, announced lifting of curfew from parts of Srinagar. Incidentally, the belligerent chief minister on Wednesday also asked the Centre to expedite the appointment of interlocutors on J&K and ensure that they do not bring any prejudices to the panel. “My opinion has been sought on the appointment of interlocutors and I think it should be done so that they start the work on initiating a political dialogue,” he told the state assembly while cautioning the Centre against appointing retired bureaucrats. “Three or four people who know the Kashmir issue should be appointed and they should come with an open mind,” he suggested.