J&K needs a government

Updated - November 17, 2021 03:00 am IST

Published - February 18, 2016 01:14 am IST

Jammu and Kashmir needs an elected government in place without further delay in order to address the discontent that has been mounting since the >death of the Peoples Democratic Party patriarch, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed . A spike in violence has worsened an already fragile political situation. In the five weeks since Governor’s Rule was imposed in the State after his death, three civilians have been killed, falling to the bullets of the security forces in two separate incidents. A dramatic downturn has been visible in the last few weeks. In Pulwama on January 20, a civilian, Parvez Ahmad Guroo, got caught in the crossfire between the security forces and militants; and hundreds of people from neighbouring villages pelted the security forces personnel with stones, shouting anti-India slogans, impervious to the teargas shells that were being lobbed back. In the melee, one militant was killed, but two escaped with the help of sympathetic locals. And the arrest on Monday in the national capital on sedition charges of former Delhi University teacher S.A.R. Geelani — who had been acquitted in the 2001 Parliament attack case — for organising an event in Afzal Guru’s support, has added to the sense of uncertainty and confusion in the Kashmir Valley. This is especially so because simultaneously Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar was also arrested on sedition charges, for alleged involvement in campus events where anti-India slogans were raised and the hanging of Afzal Guru was questioned. Given that the PDP has previously also voiced concerns about the quality of justice Afzal Guru got, the party’s position too has become complicated in striking an understanding to revive its alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

If the growing disaffection in the Kashmir Valley is to be arrested and the concerns of the people addressed, it is best done politically by an elected government, and not through direct rule from Delhi. Given that a >PDP-BJP coalition remains the most likely outcome from the current Assembly, the two parties need to come to an understanding very quickly, or indicate definitively that their coalition is no longer possible. This should enable the Governor to explore government-formation with other parties, or look at the possibility of dissolving the Assembly and advancing elections. The framework of the Agenda of Alliance — the common minimum programme that the two parties agreed to last March — already exists. The PDP has specific complaints about the BJP-led Centre not delivering on development funds to the State adequately and on time. There is also unease about the fallout of Hindutva issues in Jammu and Kashmir, especially over the issue of consumption of beef and the use of the State flag. The slapping of ‘sedition’ charges on various people in Delhi has also cast a shadow on the Valley. Far too much is at stake in Jammu and Kashmir for the BJP and the PDP to ignore the grave situation on the ground and to seek to use the interregnum of Governor’s rule to maximise their respective negotiating positions.

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