JAMMU and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh today, was “unequivocally” told that the Centre couldn’t offer a “dialogue (with separatists and other restive groups in the Valley) while there is stone-pelting and militant violence.”
Two weeks after Kashmir erupted again, sharpening the divide between the two coalition partners, PDP and BJP, Mufti had come to New Delhi with one request: “Please announce a dialogue and show reconciliatory gestures so that PDP gets some political room”. That didn’t happen.
Officials said the uneasiness in the coalition over the handling of the security situation in Kashmir also came up at the PM meeting. The coalition has come under severe strain after the PDP lost a seat in the recently held MLC polls when an independent MLA voted in favour of a BJP candidate, leading to his victory.
“Whatever happened should not have taken place. But this is an internal matter and we will resolve it with the BJP,” said Mufti.
During her meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Mufti said she raised concerns about the recent bypolls in J&K which witnessed a low turnout and said that the alliance partners, to break the deadlock, must follow the path shown by former chief minister and her father Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.
“Our agenda of alliance also got discussed. Mufti Saheb was the home minister of this country and CM of J&K. He had given a roadmap for coming out of such situations in J&K,” she said.
Mufti’s meeting with the Home Minister was also attended by BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, the party’s in charge of J&K affairs. “There is no rift between BJP and PDP, there are some issues regarding the MLC election. We noticed a lack of communication and will address it. The main concern is to bring normalcy in Kashmir within 1-2 months, we have extended all support to the state,” said Madhav.
When Mufti met reporters after her meeting with the PM, she said: “We don’t have control over our water resources and I stressed that he (PM) must think seriously about it…The loss incurred by our state because of the Indus Water Treaty is Rs 20,000 crore a year. What can be done to compensate Jammu and Kashmir?”
Mehbooba did refer to a dialogue but it was clear she hadn’t been able to make her case. “We will have to create a conducive atmosphere for dialogue first. It cannot happen in a situation of confrontation. While there are stones pelting one side and firing on the other, perhaps dialogue isn’t possible (in that scenario),’’ she said. “We discussed all this as to how we will together create a situation in J&K where governance is possible, development is possible and dialogue is possible”.
“I understand that the coming two-three months are crucial for us,” she said. “The situation in Jammu and Kashmir will change and improve. We will first restore normalcy, then talks can be initiated.”
Mufti reminded the BJP leadership that dialogue with separatists is in consonance with the party’s past. “In J&K, dialogue has happened previously as well, during Vajpayeeji’s time. when L K Advani was the deputy Prime Minister,’’ she said. “There were talks with Hurriyat and others. We have to carry it (dialogue) forward from where Vajpayeeji had left. Otherwise the situation in J&K will not improve”. She said it was because of Vajpayee’s policy that PDP and BJP are together today.
On the violence that erupted during the bypolls and the spurt in incidents of stone-pelting, Mufti said some young people were “disillusioned” while some were being “instigated”, often through social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp.
The J&K Chief Minister said the issue would be discussed on Tuesday during a meeting in Srinagar of the Unified Command, including the GOC-in-C Northern Command, GOC 16 Corps, GOC 15 Corps, DGP J&K, IG BSF, IG CRPF, senior officers of the IB and R&AW, and J&K Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh.
The ongoing student protests were triggered when police raided a degree college in restive Pulwama without prior permission of the college administration leading to a clash in which 50 students were injured. The government removed the principal, a move that fanned further protests. What began as a solidarity march for Pulwama Degree College today turned into several protests for “azadi,” pitting police against students in uniform, both boys and girls carrying schoolbags.
Sources said the Centre is looking at several possible options to calm the ground in Kashmir. Sources said that while imposition of Governor’s rule is on the table, there is a view that Mufti could be give