Genesis of the fall of Mehbooba Government
Finally, the government in Kashmir has fallen, as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pulled out of its alliance with People’s Democratic Party (PDP), as a result of which, Chief Minister Mahbooba Mufti had to resign. On the other hand, there was no probability of forming another government in the state. Owing to this, Governor rule had to be imposed in the state within 24 hours. However, the big question is: Why did the government collapse? Before searching the answer of this question, we will have to find out the reasons for formation of the BJP-PDP alliance government. First and foremost, both the BJP and the PDP are ideologically pole apart, yet they knotted alliance and shaped the government in the Valley. The PDP had 28 MLAs and the number of BJP legislators was 25. Congress had 15 MLAs and Abdullah’s National Conference (NC) had 12 legislators. Seven MLAs were Independent. In this arithmetic, no alliance could be formed in J&K Legislative Assembly without the BJP or the PDP. The main trouble for the PDP was that it would never form any alliance with the NC. On the other hand, the BJP would never prefer any alliance, of which Sonia’s Congress is any part. Therefore, the PDP-BJP alliance was the only choice in the state.
The way people of J&K participated in election, if any government was not formed, it would have sent a wrong signal. This was the main reason of the BJP-PDP alliance, which was formed on the basis of Common Minimum Programme, avoiding the core issues of the state. It is significant to mention that the PDP represents those groups that were called ‘Bakra Party’ during the Sheikh Abdullah’s regime. During those days, ‘Bakra Party’ was fully devoted to Pakistan and in 21st century, they are known as separatists, supporting the PDP. It would not be wrong to say that at least the PDP had been and has been able to win the trust of ‘Bakara Party’. Against this backdrop, PDP’s decision to form the government with nationalist party like BJP did not suit them. On the other side, questions arose as to how the BJP could form the government with the PDP, but given the verdict in J&K, only the BJP-PDP government could have been formed.
Mehbooba Mufti tried her best to strike a balance between ‘Ideology of Bakra Party’ and administration. However, she failed lastly in doing so. Now she says that she got released 11,000 stone-palters, which clearly points out the fact that all the steps taken by her were in accordance with ‘Bakra Party’s’ command. In other words, she was working on a new theme of riding two boats simultaneously. From time to time, her government registered FIRs against security forces, and seeing this, one can say that she had entered in a situation, where it would have been wrong on her part to remain Chief Minister of the state. This situation was in favour of separatists. If we look at the history, her favour to separatists is not new. She has always been supported by separatists. A common Kashmiri had faith in the PDP-BJP government and he was genuinely expecting peace and development from the PDP, shunning separatists’ shadow over the party. Because of this alliance, even Kashmir Police started targeting militants successfully. They martyred themselves for the peace of the state. But it looked like Mahbooba Mufti was not comfortable with Kashmiri people who wanted peace in the state. Security forces were fighting with militants and she was committed to saving all the stone-pelters. Truly speaking, the problem of Kashmir had reached to the stage where you had stand with one side–either with the common man of Kashmir or with ‘Bakra Party’. After the brutal killing of Rising Kashmir editor Sujjat Bukhari and the martyrdom of Aurangjeb, it was most difficult for Mehbooba Mufti to tread the two paths.
Mehbooba Mufti has her own limitations. The separatists, who had supported the PDP, are controlled by Pakistan, who has its own agenda of proxy war. It does not allow the separatists and their supporters to get away from its agenda. The brutal killing of Sujjat Bukhari should be seen in that prospective. Bukhari would often write those things which were preferred by separatists. He would oppose security forces and their operations against terrorists in his own style. Directly or indirectly, he was a supporter of stone-pelters. But suddenly, he started talking about peace in the Valley. He had no other alternative than talk of peace. Somewhere, he could, directly or
indirectly, be seen as a member of PDP. His brother was also a minister in the Mehbooba government. Separatist-supported PDP was in power and Mehbooba wanted peace in the Valley. But she had strike a balance between the agenda of separatists and bringing about peace in the Valley. But she forgot that Pakistan-based controllers of separatists would not allow any space to anything, except for implementation of their agenda in the Valley. And Bukhari lost his life in search of this space. Before this, Abdul Ghani Lone had to face the same kind of consequence. After the killing of Bukhari and martyrdom of Aurangjeb, Mehbooba had to take a courageous decision. She had to choose between the two: Winning seats with the help of separatists’ sympathy and the path to bring in peace and harmony in the Valley.
Kashmir Policy questions for the hierarchy
While stating he and his other sons were also ready to sacrifice their lives for the country, Mohammed Haneef father of Sepoy Aurangzeb, recently abducted and killed by terrorists in J&K, questioned – why is Pakistani flag seen in Kashmir, why not the Indian Tricolour? For decades kith and kin of martyred soldiers have demanded revenge, but Mohammed Haneef’s question is unique – asked by a martyr’s father, not that public at large has not been asking the same question.
Fresh ideas injected in social media say “give peace a chance” was call by the Army Chief, which the government could not overrule; this is rubbish. It was the Union Government that declared the conditional ceasefire, directing security forces not to launch operations during 30 days of Ramzan. Defence Minister Sitharaman has stated it is not MoD’s role to determine whether the ceasefire has been successful or not, even as militant-related incidents double during Ramzan ceasefire, as enumerated in media reports
Getting back to Pakistani flags being displayed in J&K, which has been happening past few years, inaction has increased frequency of such incidents and now even women display ISIS flags. What answer does the State and Centre have? Does it not have national bearing reflecting on our actions vis-à-vis slogans of zero tolerance to terrorism? Why can’t the J&K government declare it punishable offence and arrest offenders doing so in plain view and covered by media? Why can’t this be rule for the entire country? What about stone-pelters? Does any country respond in the pusillanimous manner like us – even after security personnel are stoned to death? Why our politicians are so shamelessly unaffected by the world laughing at us, and joy of the Islamists, ISI and ISI-affiliated organizations?
Why can’t we understand that giving encouragement to stone-pelters implies they will next pick up guns? Stone-pelters are being released by the thousands, even second-time offenders, to keep the circle of violence going. From stoning vehicles, and CRPF personnel, they now are stone-pelting army foot patrols. Has any mastermind / kingpin of stone-pelters been identified, apprehended and prosecuted? Has MHA demanded such details? Mehbooba Mufti even released 115 criminals on Eid under pretext theyare not involved in “serious crimes”, even as jails are dens for radicalization, replete with Pakistani flags and jihadi literature, as found during raids. Perhaps her next move will be releasing more criminals during Id-UL-Zuha in August. As it is, anarchy can be seen daily on the streets, with public burials used as platforms to incite more and more radicalism.
Are we monitoring sermons of wahabi mullahs and radical politicians? Can we learn from China how to handle them? There is also talk of judiciary being as corrupt as bureaucracy, judges on Congress payroll and the like. Hence, the nonsense of FIR’s, directives of how to deal with stone-pelters etc. But more the judiciary is corrupt, aren’t better the chances to make them fall in line; saam, daam, dand, bhed.
Take the killing of Shujaat Bukhari by the LeT in conjunction Hurriyat, and Pakistan putting the blame on Indian agencies. When will we learn to handle the Hurriyat and hit back at the masterminds across the border ‘similarly’? When will we acknowledge that the task of external agencies is to gain intelligence or at best special intelligence operations, not special operations? World over external intelligence agencies work in tandem with Special Forces, but we continue to remain tied down with the police mentality, despite the asymmetric advantage we face vis-à-vis Pakistan and China.
China overwhelmed Tibet with demographic invasion and is incrementally attempting the same in Xinjiang. Pakistan has changed demography of POK with outside settlers; the Shia population in Gilgit-Baltistan has already been brought down from 70% to 50%. ISI’s plan of Islamization of the Valley is running full steam, with tentacles reaching into Leh and Jammu. But what about the sordid proclamations of 2014 – return of Kashmiri Pandits? Any number of veterans from military-CAPF and volunteers from within J&K and outside like Mohammed Haneef and Aurangzeb’s brothers could be mustered to help return of Kashmiri Pandits, provided we have the will and a plan. If 4000 Rohingya’s have colonized Jammu despite Article 370, what is stopping an armed escort of few thousands to help return of Kashmiri Pandits? Let all the terrorist-mullahs of Pakistan attempt mass infiltration with Pakistani army in tandem – what better to get them attacking on our terms?
Finally, it is the smug politicians enjoying all the power. Amazingly, J&K received 10% of all Central grants given to States during 2000-2016 despite having just 1% of the population, each resident of J&K getting around Rs one lakh as per a media repot. But this averaging is incorrect because funds are released to State Government which is traditionally biased against Ladakh and Jammu; the Valley gets the lion’s share. In addition are the funds pouring in for terrorism and jihad from within the country and from abroad? So why should militancy not flourish? Why should Mehbooba not smile when militancy is continuing in sync with the PDP-Hijbul Mujahiddeen program, and while her sister and family have been enjoying the hospitality of the Centre in South India for the past several years with all the red carpet trappings of security, bungalow, you name it? Remember her father Mufti Muhammad Saeed publicly thanking Pakistan for his election win, with PM Modi sitting next to him? And given the free run accorded to her, why would Mehbooba not cock a snoot at the Centre by playing the national anthem at her Iftar party and no one getting up?
Above is what the State and the Centre need to answer to the nation. From the looks of it, the J&K government and the main Opposition will continue to remain fence sitters and will permit organizations like Hurriyat to fuel terrorism, even as the latter’s wards are enjoying good jobs – away from the so-called jihad. The Centre too is drifting despite glib talk of this doctrine and that concept. The Ramzan ceasefire is a failure that wiped out gains of Operation ‘All Out’. Despite total appeasement, the UNHCR report has slammed us, which indicates we failed to be preempt it at the UNHCR, as China has been doing.
Need of the hour is to dismiss the J&K State Government and place it under a dynamic Governor. Pussyfooting has permitted the volatility of 4-5 districts in the Valley rise to dangerous levels. They don’t comprise J&K but continuing a policy of drift will make the environment more unstable.
By Lt Gen Prakash Katoch
The Mehbooba government also failed on another front, where only the PDP could have fought. This front was containing those crowds participating in funeral processions of terrorists, neutralised by security forces, and stone-pelters. Who are these people? Do they come themselves or are brought under a system? Mehbooba Mufti might be well aware that behind such incidents, the network of institutions like Jamaat is responsible, which are supported by terrorists. If PDP had tried to smash this network, it could have done it. Unfortunately, neither the PDP tried to smash this network, nor did NC. It’s possible that both of these parties have used this network for their political gains. When it comes to boycotting elections in the Valley, the same network participates in it along with separatists. And this boycott helps both the PDP and NC in winning seats.
Farooq Abdullah won Srinagar Lok Sabha by-election owing to boycott by the same group. Otherwise, he might not have won it. Sonia’s Congress could not root out this network, because the Congress has no presence in the Valley. As a result of this, one can say that political parties in the Valley don’t want peace there. For, the two main political parties of the Valley are dynastic. If people of Kashmiri get freedom to vote for the change, then a new youth face might emerge in Valley’s politics and both the PDP and NC will be wiped out. Therefore, this is the main reason both the political parties boycott elections in the Valley. It is interesting to mention that this a raging debate on this issue within PDP. In March, former Finance Minister of the state, Haseeb Drabu was ousted from the cabinet because of this. He dared to accept this truth that the problem in Kashmir is not political, but social. Drabu’s acceptance of this fact could not be conceded by the PDP, NC and Congress because of their dependence of political market on Kashmir’s problem. This social cause in Kashmir Valley emerges because of corruption in bureaucracy, government jobs and distribution of state fund among some of the political families. This creates frustration among the common man of Kashmir.
Some years back, when the then Governor Jagmohan tried to resolve this social problem, both Congress and NC ousted him from the Valley and the same happened with Haseeb Drabu. He tried his best to expose the 70 years’ exploitation of common Kashmiri by the political parties. Consequently, he had to pay a heavy price for speaking the truth. And then Mehbooba gave the signal that to resolve the Kashmir problem, she cannot go beyond a limit. Drabu crossed the limit, which was the reason for his political murder. However, Sujjat Bukhari did not go to that extent. He was writing what was preferred by both separatists and the PDP. He was maintaining a balance. But of late, he laid emphasis on resolving the Kashmir issue, which crossed the limit laid down by Pakistan-based controllers of separatists and terrorists. Fact is simple–a burning Kashmir is always sustainable for theses Pakistani handlers, not a peaceful Valley and Bukhari was killed while crossing that limit. That’s why the time had come for the Mehbooba government to shun the middle path and bring in peace in the Valley.
It seems she failed in taking a decision. However, by ousting Drabu from the party, Mehooba Mufti had given her inkling a few months earlier. The brutal killing of Sujjat Bukhari and martyrdom of brave soldier Aurangjeb put a question mark on her future journey, as she could not dare to address this question mark, and preferred to remain silent, according to her party’s old strategy. And BJP could not have concurred with the PDP’s stand, and hence, pulled out of the government. It could not have walked the middle path like the PDP. For BJP, resolving the Kashmir problem has always been part of its core agenda. And for this, it took a risk by going with the PDP. This experience emboldened even the common Kashmiri people to dare challenge terrorists in the Valley. But a big question arises: How can the common Kashmiri people fight with terrorists without knowing the intent and strategy of the government? At this juncture, Mehbooba faltered and betrayed the faith of the common
Kashmiri people. Martyrdom of Aurangjeb, in this situation, put a question mark on the Mehbooba government and she failed to reply this question. The BJP had no other substitute but to walk with the common Kashmiri people and had to salute the martyrdom of Aurangjeb. This salute could not have been possible without pulling out of the BJP-PDP alliance government and it did so.
By Dr. Kuldip Chand Agnihotri