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PDP-BJP govt has ‘divided’ Jammu and Kashmir like never before: Omar Abdullah

National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah said the rape-murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua has revealed the depth of polarisation in Jammu and Kashmir.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2018 17:25 IST
Abhishek Saha
Abhishek Saha
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Kathua rape case,Omar Abdullah,Kathua rape murder
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah looks on during a press conference in Srinagar.(Waseem Andrabi/HT File Photo)

Former Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) chief minister and National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah, in an email interview with Abhishek Saha on Wednesday, said the rape-murder of an eight-year-old girl from the nomadic Muslim Bakarwal community has revealed the depth of polarisation in the Jammu region. Excerpts:

Can you comment on the Kathua rape-murder incident, especially in the light of what has come to public knowledge following reports on the charge sheet filed by the crime branch?

It’s a horrific, dastardly and inhuman act that should break every conscientious heart. The details in the charge sheet are chilling and makes one’s blood boil. How a group of individuals could plot and execute this barbaric crime is beyond imagination and should make us all ponder where the politics of polarisation and division have led the state.

What troubles might the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) alliance face due to this case? On the one hand, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti is assuring justice while on the other BJP ministers were seen in a rally supporting the suspects.

Well, for now the PDP has bent over backwards to allow ministers, legislators and proxy support groups of the BJP the space to obstruct justice and shield the culprits. When two cabinet ministers violated Section 144 and addressed rallies taken out to support the accused, the chief minister remained silent and couldn’t act. That has set this tragedy on a very dangerous course. It’s evident now that proxy fora and organisations are being used to somehow shield the accused and to subvert the legal process.

The fact that lawyers in Kathua tried to prevent the challan to be filed with the judicial magistrate is shocking and extremely condemnable. I’m glad the police have registered an FIR against those who were involved in this attempted obstruction of justice. That said, the forces that have engineered this despicable support for the accused continue to sit in seats of power.

How has the incident brought to light the communal polarisation in the Jammu region?

It has revealed not only the severity and the depth of polarisation but also exposed the fact that the ruling dispensation is leaving no stone unturned to further widen this chasm for political dividends. There have been various signs and incidents in the past few years that have indicated the growing levels of polarisation in Jammu but in this case, our worst fears have come true. The polarisation is being further accentuated by the powers that be with each passing day.

Do you think the BJP-PDP alliance has created a bridge and brought people of J&K closer or done the opposite?

That smokescreen that was used to justify PDP’s sellout would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic in terms of the costs the state has had to pay. Late Mufti Syed and then Mehbooba Mufti parroted the line that the PDP-BJP alliance was to bring J&K closer together but it has divided the state and its two largest population groups like never before and has pitted one against the other. The psychological and perceptional distance between the regions is increasing every day. J&K has never been this internally divided and tumultuous in this context — not even during the worst phases of turmoil in the 90s.

First Published: Apr 12, 2018 07:47 IST