The Centre has reached out to two former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah of National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, raising the possibility of re-opening some space for political dialogue in the Valley.
Omar and Mehbooba have been under detention ever since August 4, a day before the government announced revocation of J&K’s special status and its bifurcation into two Union Territories. While Omar is currently at Hari Niwas Palace, Mehbooba is at the Chashme Shahi in Srinagar.
According to highly placed sources, who did not wish to be identified, some officials from investigating agencies were in communication with the leaders of the two mainstream Valley parties. “The political lockdown cannot continue forever. There has been some movement to sound out the two leaders for possible easing of restrictions on them. There is need to create space,” a source familiar with the developments told The Indian Express.
The sources said while panchayat elections held last year were seen as a “success”, it will be a while for the panch and sarpanch to build any sizeable political base. “That’s a few years away. Right now, we need leaders to spread the right message,” another source said.
What worries the government, however, is the tone of the political narrative and the message that Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti may carry to the people of the Valley once restrictions are eased. “Hence, there is considerable caution. The government is trying to speak with them, but it may be a while before they are fully released,” the source said.