The Centre’s tough stance on dialogue with separatists and a review of the Afspa has put a question mark on the alliance between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP.
The coalition government formed in February-March 2015 is guided by an agenda of alliance, which both the parties have from time to time described as a “sacred document”.
The framework agreement talks about taking the dialogue process initiated by the previous NDA government, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, with all political groups, including the Hurriyat Conference, forward in the spirit of “insaaniyat, jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat”.
“Following the same principles, the coalition government will facilitate and help initiate a sustained and meaningful dialogue with all internal stakeholders, which will include all political groups irrespective of their ideological views and predilections,” the document reads. “This dialogue will seek to build a broad-based consensus on resolution of all outstanding issues of J&K.”
The PDP has been emphasising on dialogue and reconciliation as the way out of the current unrest in Kashmir. Its leaders have insisted that the PDP will act as a “bridge” between India and Pakistan, the Centre and the separatists and also between the Centre and Kashmiris.
Despite pressure from the PDP and opposition parties that dialogue should be held with all stakeholders, the Centre is of the view that meaningful talks cannot be held in the present circumstances.
The government’s assessment is that there are “serious attempts to throw out a democratically elected government and install a Wahabi theocracy” in the troubled state, and that the need is to “establish the primacy of the state by acting tough against the protestors”.
As part of its “iron fist” policy, the Centre is sending 1,000 shells of chilli-based PAVA guns a day to replace pellet guns in Kashmir.
Kashmir has been on edge as at least 76 people have died and more than 10,000 wounded in clashes with security forces since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8.
The Centre is also not in favour of reviewing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Afspa), a controversial law often blamed for alleged excesses by security forces. Government managers argue that the state police does not have adequate capacity to deal with militancy and that the hands of security forces will be tied if the Afspa is lifted.
The Afspa was one of the contentious issues during the talks between the PDP and the BJP on government formation.
After a series of discussions, the two sides agreed to incorporate the issue in the agenda of alliance. “While both parties have historically held a different view on Afspa and the need for it in the state at present, the coalition government will examine the need for de-notifying disturbed areas. This, as a consequence, would enable the Centre to take a final view on the continuation of Afspa in these areas,” the agreement said.
During the state government’s presentation before the all-party delegation in Srinagar on September 4, senior PDP leader and finance minister Haseeb Drabu reiterated his party’s longstanding demand for withdrawal of the law from some areas of the state.
With the Centre showing disinclination on both these issues, it remains to be seen how the PDP will react to such assertions.
Already voices of dissent have emerged within the PDP, with senior leader and MP Muzaffar Hussain Baig setting a deadline of six months to implement the agenda of alliance. He also urged chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to resign from her post if the agenda is not implemented.
“The PDP is being discredited due to non-implementation of the alliance agreement,” he said, indicating that the people of Kashmir are directing their anger primarily at his party.