“Government should not allow separatists to become authentic voice of Kashmiris”

Weakening of civil and political control over Jammu and Kashmir and conceding of political space to separatist groups which do not speak for Kashmiris were identified by the BJP as factors that have led to the current sorry state of affairs in the State.

Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad mostly laid the blame on the ruling National Conference (NC) and Congress, pointing out there was a real danger of the State drifting back to the dark period between 1990 and 2002.

He said Chief Minister Omar Abdullah may be “flamboyant,” but was not giving good governance. His father Farooq Abdullah was more efficient and sensitive than him.

Mr. Prasad noted that the Army chief was recently reported to have observed the gains made earlier were being frittered away. The government had failed to build on the critical successes achieved by security forces over the years, he said.

When the State people were voting in large numbers for mainstream parties, there was no need to give weight to statements by separatists, who take their orders from across the border. The government should not allow separatists to become the authentic voice of Kashmiris. It also should not allow their agenda, guided by Pakistan, to become Kashmir's agenda. “We are disturbed that today it is the separatists and their mentors who are holding the State and the Central governments to ransom,” Mr. Prasad said.

“Very unfortunate”

Although Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had talked to People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti, suggesting she attend the all-party talks called by the Chief Minister on Monday, she has defied him and rejected his suggestion. He described this as “very unfortunate.”

The Congress, which had allied with the PDP earlier and now with the NC, was to blame.

As for security forces, Mr. Prasad said his party's view was that individual lapses by security men should be seen as such and treated in that way instead of being used to demoralise the entire force. Giving the forces a bad name was creating space for separatists.