Today, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah completes 100 days in office. Arun Joshi spoke to the 39-year-old and asked him about the biggest risk his government has faced so far. He mentioned the ire of the people following the killing of two civilians by security forces on February 21. The anger was so intense, Abdullah said, it could have “derailed the agenda and credibility” of his government. Excerpts from the interview:
In what sense could the Bomai incident derail your government?
It was a question of our credibility since we are committed to protecting human rights. We did everything in a transparent manner and have been able to identify the culprits. When People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti said in the assembly that security forces had demolished 36 houses in a village in Bandipore (in Baramullah district), I put the local legislator and police chief on a helicopter to verify the truth. Earlier, such allegations were ignored.
You are the youngest CM. How do you gel with elders?
I have no problems. There are ministers who have worked with my grandfather and my father.
Do you take advice from others?
Yes, of course. My father sometimes gives advice, and that’s the way it should be. But the buck stops here.
How is your relationship with the Congress?
We are talking to each other, not at each other. Rahul Gandhi and I will be campaigning together in Jammu and Udhampur constituencies on April 14.
What’s your take on the situation in Pakistan?
It worries us on two counts — first, the unsettled political situation within Pakistan and the stepped up infiltration from across the Line of Control. The new militants are battle-hardened.
Are they Taliban?
No. They are from the LeT (Lashkar-e-Tayyeba), the Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Harkat-ul-Mujahadeen. But they are big-time fighters.
What’s your biggest challenge in the days ahead?
The challenge will be to maintain peace and find jobs for the unemployed.