Is Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah (40) losing ground? Ever since he took charge in January last year, India’s youngest CM finds himself lurching from crisis to crisis.
“When Omar Abdullah came, there were huge expectations. Unlike his father he has a serious image,” said political analyst Gul Wani.
Within a few months of Omar becoming CM in January 2009, two young persons were killed in firing by the army, and this led to street protests. As news of the deaths spread, people including women and children in Bomai and other parts of Sopore took to the streets and staged a protest against the Indian Army. A probe found two soldiers guilty and this pacified the protestors somewhat.
The incident was followed by the Shopian rape and murder case (of two women) in May 2009, in which the government was perceived as being party to a cover-up from day one. While Shopian was burning, Omar from the start ruled out the murder and rape theory and said drowning could be the cause of their deaths.
“The way Shopian happened, the entire administration was shaken,” Wani said.
While 2009 was marked by protests against the Shopian incident, 2010 became the year of teenager killing. Twelve persons, mostly teenagers, died this year mainly at the hands of CRPF troopers.
The CM’s response in some cases has often been condemning the acts as “suicidal”.
People’s Democratic Party head Mehbooba Mufti had once told this paper that the state government had shrunk political space for mainstream politicians. “Omar Abdullah it seems has descended as a modern-day Nero (ruthless Roman emperor), presiding over death and destruction,” she said, after the killing of Ashif Hassan Rather (9) in Baramulla on Monday.
Omar has to give in to the compulsions of coalition politics. Reportedly things are not going on fine between the Omar’s party, the National Conference, and the Congress.
Omar softened his stand on the removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and his demand for autonomy, saying the “PM may think of giving autonomy to the extent it is possible”.
After the killing in Baramulla on Monday, the government issued a statement saying a mechanism to stop any human rights violation would be in place soon. Omar has also said the government was responsible for every bullet fired by the forces.
“Let’s not play politics, not at least on the blood of our youth” was the new message from Omar Abdullah. Whether he will be able to keep his promise this time remains to be seen.