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Kashmir has to be put back on rails

The alliance between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir has doubtlessly run into rough weather in the wake of the continuing spate of violence in the Kashmir valley. While the Mehbooba Mufti government has failed to contain the open hostility of agitators in which anti-India elements both from across the border and from within are interspersed, politically the two parties are increasingly drifting apart. What has added fuel to the fire is the manner in which PDP candidate Abdul Qayyum Dar failed to win the legislative council polls despite an understanding with its alliance partner to give him safe passage. While the PDP labelled it as ‘back stabbing’ the BJP celebrated the victory as three of its candidates managed to secure berths in the Upper House of the State Assembly. In protest, the winning PDP candidate skipped the oath taking ceremony, sending out signals that all is not well between the alliance partners. Another provocation has come in the form of a statement by a BJP Cabinet Minister, Chander Parkash Ganga, who suggested that the stone pelters in Kashmir should be dealt with bullets. Mehbooba Mufti on her part has not only mismanaged the explosive situation but also demoralized the army by her criticism of it.

It is unrealistic to expect any dramatic results. As area commander Lt Gen Sandhu has said in an interview, the situation is fragile and one cannot run away from the fact that there is a measure of public support to terrorists and increased radicalization of youth. The process has to be gradual to wean the youth away from the violent path. At the same time, contrary to what Mehbooba says, the authority of the armed forces and the police has to be asserted so that there is fear of authority. That there is outside support and logistical backing to trouble-makers and terrorists are being regularly infiltrated into the valley is a harsh reality that has to be combated. The army’s hands cannot be tied beyond a point though any excesses must be duly punished. There should be no central buckling to pressure from Mehbooba and her ilk. The Abdullahs – Farooq and Umar – are playing a perfidious role of repeatedly taking sides against the establishment. The time has come for the Hurriyat and other separatists to be shown their place and political opportunists to be unmasked and dealt with. This is not to say that the BJP can do what it likes. It was highly insensitive of BJP leader Ram Madhav to say that all was fair in love and war or for another leader to say that stone-pelters must be shot. The way the State BJP went back on its word to support a PDP candidate for a legislative council seat was unbecoming of it. The coalition dharma must be followed by both coalition partners. As for the Abdullahs, the Prime Minister has done well to unmask and rile them in one of his TV interviews. Kashmir has to be saved from the sinister forces across the border and within.

This post was syndicated from Free Press Journal. Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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