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National Conference President Farooq Abdullah today called on Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra here and asked him to impress upon the Centre to open doors to dialogue and political engagement for ending the political stalemate in the state. “There can be no alternative to a political initiative and New Delhi should not waste any further time and engage with stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir,” Abdullah told the Governor, a statement issued by the party after a meeting said.
The former Chief Minister was accompanied by party General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar, former minister Mian Altaf Ahmed, Provincial President Jammu Devender Singh Rana and state spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu. Abdullah also apprised Vohra of “systematic and planned” efforts to “persecute and disempower” the Gujjar and Bakerwal communities as well as minorities in Jammu Province and alleged “divisive forces were making concerted attempts to disturb communal harmony” in the state, it said.
Expressing serious concerns over continued “political uncertainty and stalemate” in the state, Abdullah said the Central Government should take “concrete, visible and meaningful” measures to engage with stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the “political issue”.
“An absence of a political outreach from the highest levels in New Delhi had sent out a negative message of confrontation and hostility when reconciliation and engagement was required to douse the fire in the Valley,” he said requesting the Governor to impress upon New Delhi to initiate a political process to deal with the unrest. The former Chief Minister also highlighted the alleged “apathy and indifference” of the administration towards victims of cross-border shelling and firing along the International Border (IB) and Line of Control (LoC) especially in frontier areas of Poonch, Rajouri, Hira Nagar, R S Pura, Kana Chak, Kathua, Suchetgarh, Abdulllian, Kupwara and Uri.
“Gujjar and Bakerwal communities form an integral part of the state’s diverse and harmonious demography and their rights cannot be violated under the fig-leaf of reclaiming forest land. “Gujjars and Bakerwals are a part and parcel of our society and form a positive part of the ecosystem in areas where these communities have been traditional nomadic dwellers,” Abdullah said.
He said the Administration cannot “dislodge and selectively target” Gujjars and Bakerwals by uprooting them and launching an “assault on their rights” to live a life of dignity. “Members of the nomadic communities are being persecuted and harassed under an elaborate plan to sow seeds of fragmentation and communal animosity within the state. “Our social fabric is our most vital asset and any nefarious plan to target a particular community is an assault on the state as whole,” Abdullah said in the meeting. He alleged victims of cross-LOC and cross-border shelling have not been “compensated” and “what is even worse, the administration has not even made an attempt to assess losses and damages suffered by the residents.”
“Shopkeepers have been robbed of their livelihood and private property has suffered the brunt. “While promises were made to construct bunkers that would be used as safe shelters during shelling, nothing has been done on the ground,” the former CM alleged.
He said that promises to allot plots to the residents living close to the LoC and IB have also not been converted into visible action on the ground. “People living in these areas are suffering and living in constant fear and anxiety and the Government was not paying heed to their misery,” he said. Conveying his apprehensions to the Governor over conspicuous and concerted attempts to vitiate communal and regional harmony in the state, he alleged that the state Government’s “brazen patronage to certain overtly communal organisations was a dangerous approach and could wreak havoc in the state.”
“Armed marches by certain known communal organisations in various areas of Jammu are being carried out with the motive of intimidating and harassing minorities and people belonging to a particular community. “This is a very dangerous trend and should be nipped in the bud. Our legacy of brotherhood and amity is invaluable and needs to be protected at all costs,” Abdullah said. The National Conference President said the party was alarmed at the state government’s approach of “politicising” education and examinations and said this was tantamount to gambling with the future of our children. “This issue is far more important than egos in the current dispensation and should not be made a point of prestige.
“The students have not been able to complete their curriculum and have been victims of an atmosphere of uncertainty and anxiety that has persisted over the last more than three months. “Rather than tormenting them and politicising their education, the State Government should postpone their examinations and give them ample time to complete their established syllabi so that they are prepared for not only their board examinations but also entrance examinations to professional courses.
“They deserve every bit of our empathy, affection and understanding and the State Government should deal with this issue with utmost care and sensitivity,” Abdullah said.