Is Kashmir Heading For Guv’s Rule

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The Governors rule will have far reaching effects on the PDP as it will have to face public wrath in the Valley from where it draws strength. For BJP it will be not so damaging as the BJP leadership will enjoy clout in the governance as is the ruling party at centre. 

Photo: The Legitimate

Asem Mohiuddin

As the situation is still volatile in Kashmir and South Kashmir is on boil with militants freely attacking security forces, the Centre is feeling the heat. Though BJP managed to grab the power in J-K for the first time in history with the help of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and now witnessing the same power slipping out of its hands, the shift in its Kashmir policy can’t be ruled out any time soon.

 During the recent visit of BJP president, Amit Shah to winter capital Jammu where he has hinted that Centre is ready to give any sacrifice that option of Governors rule is also on the table with the centre along with other options and New Delhi is keeping a close eye on the situation in Valley. Recently Army chief General Bipin Rawat’s visit was followed by the Union Home secretary Rajesh Mahareshi to Valley, later besides meeting top security officials held separate meetings with J&K chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti and Governor Narendra Nath Vohra.

In these meetings threadbare discussion was held on the security issues and spike in the militancy related incidents and over the situation on the Line of Control (LoC). Mehbooba Mufti also met Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh and then held a detailed meeting with Prime Minister, Narendra Modi in New Delhi. In this meeting though Mehbooba Mufti like past also raised her pitch about dialogue with the separatists and Pakistan but she was categorically conveyed that for any sort of dialogue she as chief minister needs to improve the situation in the Valley. Prime Minister was also non committal about the start of dialogue.  And after meeting with Chief Minister, the J-K governor N N Vohra was also summoned to New Delhi where he held separate meetings with Union Minister, Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi.

Sources said that Governor was asked to take more interest in the issues of governance and was also conveyed that in case situation in Valley further worsens then Governor should remain ready for the another stint of Governor’s Rule. Soon after Governor Vohra returned from Delhi trip, he again became active meeting officials and top heads of the army and other forces. In fact security is given a top priority now, besides, developmental projects. Vohra also held meetings with the heads of universities and other institutions in the back drop of the student protests that erupted after forces entered into the Pulwama Degree College where dozens of students were injured. Despite initiating action against the policemen and officials there seems no end to the protests and everyday students in some school or college come on the roads. The police have now been claiming that students are been provoked by some people with vested interests. The students’ protests are also turning into a big headache for the government as further confrontation could snowball into a big crisis.   

Since her return from Delhi Mehbooba Mufti has also been pro active and has started making vital changes in the administration. She has removed the chief Secretary B R Sharma who according to reports was ineffective and got B B Vyas in his place. Vyas is said to be very hardworking and dedicated who knows administrative affairs fully. The chief minister also got Muneer Ahmad Khan as new Inspector General of Police. Khan is considered as tough officer who had many stints in the past with the Special Operation Group (SoG) of the JK Police and has served in every part of the Valley on important assignments.

Khan also enjoys good rapport with the Army. By his appointment the government wants to send a signal that they are going to be tough with the militants and their supporters. Army’s top brass has already given an indication that frequent operations are in the pipeline to contain militancy in the Valley especially in South Kashmir where around 100 local youths have joined militant ranks after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani in July last year.

With new IG in place the new team of Police officials, the army will feel more comfortable to launch the frequent operations. However, there are apprehensions that it could also backfire.

On administrative front Mehbooba Mufti has again started travelling to various parts of the Valley meeting people and officials, however, her ministers are still in a slumber along with the minister of her coalition partner BJP. And to bridge the trust deficit in governance, appointment of Tasaduq Mufti as new head of the grievance cell is also an indication that chief minister of late has been only relying on her close family members instead of her party stalwarts. Mehbooba Mufti has already appointed her maternal uncle, Sartaj Madni as vice president of the party sidelining several senior members who were also founders of the party along with Mufti Mohammed Sayeed when the PDP was formed in late 1990’s. In her speeches now Mehbooba is also giving an indication that situation will be alright within next few months. Recently she said that situation was very bad and dangerous in Kashmir in the past and after some time the situation improved gradually. This time also she feels similar turn in the situation and feels that things will become normal after volatile unrest of 2016 in which more than 90 civilians lost their lives and thousands were injured. However heads of top security agencies have conveyed New Delhi that situation is getting worse with every passing day and they feel centre needs to do more and imposition of the Governors rule will calm down the tempers in the Valley especially in south Kashmir where people feel they have been let down by the state government especially by New Delhi.

The security establishment also want that they should be given some free hand in south Kashmir to quell the protests especially during encounters. These officials feel that by using iron hand the resolve of the people could be broken and those who try to take advantage of the kind of situation also needed to dealt hard and many officials feel that the ruling coalition partner PDP which has bagged majority of its seats from South Kashmir is becoming hurdle in breaking the public outrage and doing so the Governors rule will be the better option. “More people in North Kashmir have been detained and slapped with Public Safety Act when the actual problem is in South Kashmir,” said one of the security officials.”Whenever we try to act, the local politicians intervene and render us helpless.” 

Though officially, the coalitions partners will not acknowledge that state is heading for the Governor’s rule, however, everybody in the PDP and BJP have kept their fingers crossed and have not ruled out the imposition of the Governors rule in case there is any other big incident in the Valley or anywhere else in the state. Opposition National Conference has already started mocking the JK chief minister and said that present government is on three or four months lease given by the centre and there is every possibility that Kashmir will come under the Governors rule. Even the other main opposition party – Congress also feels that the PDP – BJP government has failed and lost the confidence of the people.

Both the opposition parties will be feeling happy as they think that the coalition partners have lost the faith of people and after a stint of Governors rule they could reap the benefits and could easily exploit failures of the PDP and the BJP.

On the other hand talk of the governor’s rule has also affected the bureaucracy and they are always thinking that government could fall any time and that is perturbing their functioning. Many political analysts feel that if Mehbooba Mufti manages to navigate through this crisis then the government could complete its term, otherwise any big attack or unrest could pose serious threat for the coalition government.

The Governors rule will have far reaching effects on the PDP as it will have to face public wrath in the Valley from where it draws strength. For BJP it will be not so damaging as the BJP leadership will enjoy clout in the governance as is the ruling party at centre. 

The story first appeared in print edition of May 17 to 23-2017.

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