June 2019 News

Modi Government's New Roadmap In Kashmir

29 June 2019
The Economic Times
Hakeem Irfan

Srinagar: Minus militancy and politics everything else is possible that is the larger message from the series of steps being taken by the government, from the continued crackdown on Hurriyat to the cleanup of the JK Bank, according to observers. They said Union home minister Amit Shahs decision not to address a presser during his recent visit to the Valley, even as he met a number of locals other than government officials, BJP members and panchayat representatives, perfectly fitted into the governments new policy. The NDA is bringing unknown faces to run Kashmir so that nobody has an edge to build or invoke any relationship, a senior police official told ET on condition of anonymity. (National security adviser) Ajit Doval knows everybody in Kashmir and also whose strings are attached with whom. So, he doesnt feel the need to consult anybody here and thus scuttles any manipulation that may happen from New Delhis perspective. For example a day before, Shah arrived in Srinagar on his maiden visit to Valley, state administration was handed over a of list of people he has to meet other than the government officials, BJP members and Panchayat representatives for the next two days. This list of over a dozen people was prepared in New Delhi and local officials were asked to inform them about the exact meeting schedule. Some officials had suggested a few more names for the meetings with the home minister, which was refused. The government had already tightened the screws on the Hurriyat Conference, with most of its prominent leaders either in jail or under house arrest or under the probe of the National Investigation Agency and JK Police. Jamaat-e-Islami and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front were banned and the perceived support structure of Hurriyat and similar groups choked effectively. Similarly, cross-Line of Control (LoC) trade, considered to be the biggest confidence building measure between India and Pakistan, remains suspended and the armed forces continue the Operation All Out to eliminate militants since 2016, around 733 have been killed. With the extension of Presidents rule, which has been clamped in Kashmir for the first time since 1996 till December 2019, the government does not want to give any leeway to even mainstream political parties. The National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party, which have repeatedly pleaded for conduct of state elections as soon as possible, are finding themselves marginalised. We have been rendered useless, Peoples Democratic Party leader Wahid-ur-Rehman Parra told ET. We dont know what Delhi is thinking right now. There is an absence of political space, which has to be created, carved and offered to people. Similarly, former minister and National Conference leader Ali Muhammad Sagar said that Prime Minister Modi should take steps to bring peace to the Valley and to stop the bloodshed. Governance and development are fine, as we welcome any such step taken, but we need to talk about the political situation, start dialogue and come out of this mess. Elections should happen as soon as possible, he said. Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Bureau raids at JK Bank as part of its investigation into high-profile corruption cases have unsettled many in mainstream politics and business. JK chief secretary BVR Subramanyam, who addressed two press appearances, exuded confidence that the anti-corruption drive against the high and mighty would find resonance among the dispossessed people in the Valley. Government programmes like Back to Villages, under which officers visit villages to redress grievances of people at their doorsteps, is an excellent initiative but its aim is also to send a message and create a buzz that Presidents rule is better than that of the elected government, said a senior bureaucrat, who did not wish to be identified. While some locals slammed the government for not acknowledging a human rights report published by two organisations in Kashmir, the government said in a reply in the Lok Sabha in the ongoing session, The organisations are known to present a malicious and biased view, while ignoring facts and ground realities in the state. It said development activities are also being undertaken under the Prime Ministers 80,000 crore development package. Home minister Shah, according to told officials that the PMs package is meant to ensure that governance reaches the last man in the line and the poorest of the poor. The multi-pronged approach, the government believes, is helping calm down Kashmir with a decline in the number of protests and incidents of stone-pelting. It believes the measures neutralise politics with a number of measures to mainstream the youth, including providing employment opportunities, sports and cultural activities and youth exchange programme. Recent statements of Governor Satya Pal Malik and Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have, however, set the rumour mills buzzing regarding possible initiation of the dialogue process, giving hope to many who believe only talks can pave the way forward.

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