Valley protests: Centre decides to draw hard line for J&K govt

Home Ministry to states, UTs: ensure security of students from Kashmir

Written by Maneesh Chhibber , Rahul Tripathi | New Delhi | Updated: April 22, 2017 5:02 am
mehbooba mufti, jammu kashmir, kashmir valley, kashmir violence, PDP-BJP alliance, anti-india, kashmir stone pelting, indian army, j&k govt, india news, latest news A CRPF man takes a photograph of protesters in Srinagar Friday. Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi

Over the weekend, when J&K Chief Minister arrives in the Union Capital to meet senior functionaries of the Central Government, including, possibly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she will be told that there can’t be any “softening” of the ongoing campaign by security forces against what New Delhi sees as “anti-India” forces in the Valley.

Sources in the Centre told The Indian Express that Mehbooba will also be told that there is no way Army and paramilitary forces will be asked to “tolerate” stone-throwers.

At the same time, sources in the BJP said the PDP-BJP alliance was intact and “whatever little pinpricks are there, will be sorted out mutually”.

A strong section in the PDP is up in arms against the BJP for, what it terms, the backstabbing by the BJP in ensuring the defeat of the PDP candidate in the recently held Legislative Council elections. While each was expected to win two seats in the Council, cross-voting by an independent MLA who is part of the alliance, ensured the dramatic loss of the PDP candidate and the victory of the third BJP nominee.

However, the BJP has told PDP leaders that the defeat was a result of the ally’s own faulty floor management.

This tension within comes at a time when a section in the PDP has tried to persuade Mufti that the PDP is fast losing ground in the Valley by continuing in the alliance. Sources in the PDP, however, said that while Mehbooba is under pressure, there’s no immediate threat of her breaking the alliance.

Last Saturday, during a meeting with Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, held in the wake of videos of alleged excesses by security personnel emerging in Kashmir, Mehbooba had said “such conduct of the troops” was “washing away all the progress that the Army has achieved in the Valley over the years”. She had also “sought action” against those responsible but had got on commitment on that.

While the Centre’s stand is that the security situation will be dealt with firmly and there would be no let-up in dealing with “anti-India mobs,” the Centre could open channels of communication with those in the Valley “who show an inclination to end the impasse.”

“The Central government is open to the idea of engaging — either openly or through back-channels — with any individual or group in Kashmir if it helps in the Valley returning to normal. But talks can’t be held when some people in Kashmir are challenging the might of the Indian state by throwing stones at our security personnel and Armymen. This can’t be tolerated,” said a member of the security establishment who is among those monitoring the Kashmir situation.

BJP president Amit Shah, scheduled to visit Jammu next week, will also convey to party leaders and cadres the BJP government’s “commitment not to tolerate any anti-India movement”.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to review the status of all ongoing and pending projects in the state.

In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a J&K package of Rs 80,000 crore of which only Rs 17,000 crore has been released. Among the schemes, 16 projects are linked to Nitin Gadkari-headed Road and Trasport ministry while Home Ministry and Finance Ministry has seven projects each, said officials.

Singh, along with officials of other ministries, including Finance and Road Transport, will hold a comprehensive review on Monday.

Today, Singh also appealed to states to ensure the safety of Kashmiris. “I appeal to all Chief Ministers to ensure that no Kashmiri youth is mistreated in any part of the nation. Even they are part of India. No one can rubbish this truth that many people from Kashmir are contributing to India’s safety and prosperity,” Singh said.

The Home Ministry issued an advisory to all states and UTs directing them to ensure safety and security of Kashmiri students and launched a helpline to register any complaints of harassment. His statement came in the wake of reports alleging that Kashmiri students in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh were receiving threats. Condemning these incidents, the home minister also said that proper inquiry should be initiated in each case and strongest possible action should be taken against the guilty.

There was tension in Chittorgarh, Rajasthan, on Wednesday when a group of locals clashed with a few Kashmiri students of Mewar University after they were allegedly called “stone pelters” and taunted over a video showing a CRPF jawan being heckled.

Also, hoardings asking Kashmiri students to leave Uttar Pradesh have appeared in Meerut.

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