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Amarnath yatra attack: Peace in Jammu vital for Mehbooba Mufti’s survival

The rush by mainstream parties to mollify Jammu explains the tough task ahead for chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti.

india Updated: Jul 16, 2017 21:06 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Amarnath attack,Amarnath Yatra,Militants
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti consoles an Amarnath pilgrim who survived the Anantnag terror attack at the airport in Srinagar on Tuesday. (PTI File)

Minutes after the dastardly attack on Amarnath pilgrims in Kashmir on Monday, the opposition National Conference (NC) called a day-long shutdown in Jammu on Tuesday in protest against the killings.

The decision came as a surprise given that the NC with a pan-Jammu and Kashmir presence could have announced a statewide shutdown (bandh) instead of restricting the protest strike to one region only.

The competitive politics to court the political constituency in Jammu prompted the Congress, the National Panthers Party of Bhim Singh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to support the call.

Were Kashmiris less enraged than the people from Jammu or was it that Kashmir remained indifferent to the killings of Amarnath pilgrims? Perhaps, the widespread condemnation of the attack by Kashmiris on social media and other public platforms was to the contrary.

The incident had shaken Kashmir and the spirit of Kashmiriyat. While Kashmir’s civil society orgainsed a protest sit-in in Srinagar, the separatists who otherwise promptly give strike calls merely expressed “deep sorrow and grief” over the killings.

“This incident goes against the very grain of Kashmiri ethos. Amarnath yatra has been going on peacefully for centuries and is part of our yearly rhythm and will remain so,” said Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik in a joint statement.

This was the worst attack on the annual pilgrimage since 2000 when 30 pilgrims were killed.

The rush by mainstream parties to mollify Jammu also explains the tough task ahead for chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti. For her, the biggest challenge will be to ensure peace in Jammu, a region with substantial Hindu population.

In the past, the agitations in Jammu have also resulted in the fall of the state governments. The Jammu agitation of 1952-53 over the demand for complete integration of J&K with the rest of the country and opposition to the provision of separate flag, separate constitution and the provision of the post of Prime Minister eventually resulted in the dismissal and arrest of Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.

And in 2008, the coalition government headed by Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress had to go following the 61-day agitation in Jammu over the cancellation of an order of transfer of about 39.88 hectares of forest land in Baltal (Sonamarg) and Chandanwari (Pahalgam) to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board.

Political analysts, however, are of the view that the attack indicates the worsening situation in Kashmir and suggested that Mufti should pursue and push the central government to change its present stand and go for reconciliation process and initiate a dialogue with different stakeholders to restore normalcy in the state.

“That will weaken and alienate the emerging extremist elements and restore confidence among the people not only in J&K but across India. She (Mufti) needs to win over the hearts of the people and push the BJP to give up its hardened policy on Kashmir,” said Prof Noor Ahmed Baba of Kashmir University.

First Published: Jul 12, 2017 09:37 IST