Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Monday morning amid a deteriorating law and order situation in the state. The renewed violence has also strained relations between the ruling PDP-BJP coalition, leading to a growing clamour for governor’s rule in the state.
What prompted the meeting and what is expected:
Stop the alienation
The chief minister is likely to discuss confidence-building measures with Modi. She is likely to press for some political initiative from the Centre to address growing alienation of the people of Kashmir, particularly the youth, which she believes is the reason for increasing incidents of stone-pelting at security forces. Besides her meeting with the Prime Minister, Mufti will also meet home minister Rajnath Singh.
Take care of Kashmiri students
On Sunday, the Prime Minister urged all chief ministers to take care of students from Jammu and Kashmir in their respective states, a remark that assumes significance in view of some recent incidents targeting Kashmiri youth. Modi’s advice came after Mehbooba Mufti raised the issue following assault of six Kashmiri students of Mewar University in Rajasthan by some locals. Last week, hoardings were also put up in Meerut by a right-wing group, asking Kashmiris to leave Uttar Pradesh. The Prime Minister also took note of the invitation extended by Mehbooba to various state governments to organise events in her state.
The meeting also comes in the backdrop several video clips surfacing in recent times, purportedly showing human rights abuses by security forces. One incident of a Kashmiri man being tied to a jeep and used as a human shield by soldiers has particularly fanned anger in the Valley, which saw months of street protests last year following the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani. Mehbooba Mufti is likely to ask Modi for restrained from security forces.
Alliance under strain
The PDP and the BJP are not on the same page on the issue of dealing with the growing trend of stone-pelting and this has led to friction between them. BJP minister Chander Prakash Ganga’s recent comments that “traitors and stone-pelters should be treated with bullets” faced criticism and ire of the PDP, which said there was a “conspiracy” to keep trouble brewing in the Valley. The PDP also lost the recent bypolls to the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency to the National Conference, barely three years after the 2014 general elections. BJP state chief Sat Sharma, however, said in Jammu on Sunday there were no differences between the coalition partners and the state government was “working well”.
“Impose governor’s rule’
National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, who won the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency bypoll, has demanded governor’s rule as the state government has allegedly failed to ensure a peaceful election. Former chief minister and NC working president Omar Abdullah has also questioned the handling of students protests. Stone pelting incidents have increased manifold in the valley since the BJP-PDP government came to power in 2015. More than 400 incidents of stone-pelting have been reported in Kashmir from October, 2016 to March, 2017. Eight people were also killed in clashes during the by-election in Anantnag last week.
(With agency inputs)