Prime Minister Narendra Modi's maiden statement during the ongoing crises seeking permanent solution to the Kashmir problem within the Indian constitution is unlikely to calm down tempers in the valley. However, experts claim that Modi’s reaction, after meeting with J&K opposition leaders, exposes Mehbooba Mufti as a weak Chief Minister of the strife-torn state.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah-led opposition, experts say, managed to convince the Prime Minister on a perspective, something which Mufti failed to do in the last forty-five days, even after appealing for the same from different platforms. Modi’s statement had once again exposed strains and actual power equations within the PDP-BJP government of the state.
“In a way it is not a right reflection on PDP or current Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti,” Noor Ahmad Baba, a political science professor at Central University of Kashmir, told Firstpost.
“When you are in crisis, it is a crisis for all and any well-meaning initiative is welcome. That J&K opposition exhibiting a certain degree of seriousness, concern, a degree of unity and togetherness and impressing people in Delhi is in itself a good thing,” he added.
Chief Minister Mehboob Mufti had met Home Minister Rajnath Singh and had requested the Prime Minister to initiate a dialogue on Kashmir last week. But experts say the Prime Minister's statement has left PDP red-faced as it came after the opposition parties from the state met him, and not when the PDP had sought it.
“I won’t say it is necessarily anti-government. For Kashmir is not simply normal politics, it is not the issues of governance where government fails or succeeds. The problem is beyond normal jurisdiction of a state government. But since this party was committed to that kind of long term solution of Kashmir issues — the party in power — PDP should have impressed from that perspective. They should have been more impressive. That means it has not been successful enough,” Baba added.
Modi's statement, an apparent climbdown by the ruling BJP from its tough stand that it will not hold talks with separatists, came after opposition parties led by the former chief minister Omar Abdullah met him in Delhi to reach out to people of Kashmir for easing the situation.
After the meeting, the PMO issued a statement: "Permanent and lasting solution to the problem within the framework of the constitution needs to be looked into through dialogue."
Mufti tried to put up a brave face, saying it is really a good thing if the solution is found by opposition's meeting with the Prime Minister.
But one of the PDP leaders, Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra, tweeted that time will only recognise Chief Minister’s role in facilitating dialogue. “With time you may recognize the role of JKPDP and CM in particular in facilitating the peace process,” Para wrote on Twitter.
Para’s tweet came in response to the National Conference (NC) leader, Tanvir Sadiq. “At least JKNC pressure made Delhi move from its Development will solve everything to lasting solution. A good beginning is half done,” he wrote.
— Waheed Ur Rehman (@parawahid) August 22, 2016
Rekha Chowdhary, a political analyst and professor of political science at Jammu University, said the hardline stances taken by the BJP for few days had to stop at some point, and it had to revert because they (the central government) could not have gone on having a non-negotiating position on Kashmir.
“When you take a position, that it is an internal matter — I think that had to be reverted at some point. I feel the opposition parties meeting gave the government a stamp. You have to understand that Kashmir is going into a situation when you can’t further stretch it. I think it would be cumulative result because Mehbooba Mufti must have informed the home Minister of whatever is happening in Kashmir. And also Centre must be looking at the point were it can reverse its position,” she said.
The separatists, however, are not enthused by the Prime Minister's statement. “For a lasting solution of the dispute, the Indian state must shun state violence and uphold the international law, respect and adhere to UN charter and especially the UN resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir. We understand the universal principle of Right of Self-Determination is the only road through which peace can be achieved in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
And the Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said New Delhi should first acknowledge that Kashmir is a political issue and stop killing and maiming people. “Let them first acknowledge Kashmir issue and stop human rights violations, killing people, using pellet guns et al”, he said.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday had claimed that only five percent of unhappy people in Kashmir are creating trouble and trying to unsettle the PDP-BJP coalition government.
“It is an absurd theory. If it was five percent than she should have been able to resolve it. It than speaks inaptness of the government that small five percent of the people are against it and they are not able to handle it,” Baba added.
On Tuesday, curfew was lifted from many areas in capital Srinagar in view of the improving situation, even as normal life in the Valley remained affected for the 46th straight day due to restrictions and strike in the wake of violence following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. Close to seventy people have been killed in the ongoing unrest, and thousands injured.