Srinagar: Eminences of both the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the opposition National Conference (NC) have gone into hiding after the pro-freedom leadership asked people to ostracise them. Legislators, ministers and senior functionaries of the two parties are nowhere to be seen. The vanishing act has become necessary after another minister’s convoy was pelted with stones on Monday. For the second time in three days, reinforcements had to be rushed to north Kashmir to secure passage for a minister’s cavalcade.
Rural development and parliamentary affairs minister Abdul Haq Khan was confronted by angry protesters in Tangdhar area of north Kashmir on Monday. Sources said that Khan had chosen to tour the area because the situation was relatively relaxed in the border region where army rules the roost.
Dozens of people waylaid the minister’s cavalcade and hurled stones at the minister’s vehicle. The police and paramilitary personnel accompanying the minister swung into action to disperse the protesters, sources said.
This is the third attack on PDP leaders in the Valley since the public uprising began in Kashmir after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. Last Saturday, education minister and government spokesman Naeem Akhtar’s cavalcade was waylaid by protesters at Sumbal on Srinagar-Bandipora highway. The protesters hurled stones on Akhtar’s bulletproof vehicle and halted the movement of the cavalcade for some time. It was after reinforcements were rushed to the spot that Akhtar and legislator Yasir Reshi were “rescued” from the area.
Last month, PDP’s Pulwama legislator Muhammad Khalil Bandh was attacked by protesters at Prichoo village in the southern district. Bandh was travelling during the night hours, quite oblivious of the presence of protesters on the way. Officials said that after his vehicle was waylaid, the driver lost control of the steering wheel and rammed the vehicle into a tree. The lone PSO accompanying the former minister called up the local police who rescued and later hospitalised Bandh. He was treated at the army’s base hospital in Srinagar before being flown out to Delhi. Sources said that his bone socket and joint have been dislocated.
All legislators and ministers belonging to the BJP have fled from the Valley since the uprising started. Deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh, forest minister Lal Singh, and health minister Bali Bhagat occasionally arrive for an overnight stay but immediately leave after “finishing official work”.
A ruling party legislator told Kashmir Reader that he left his constituency in south Kashmir on July 11 to “confine myself in the residential quarter in Srinagar.”
“My well-wishers in the constituency including my close relatives do not allow me to venture out. I am almost caged at my official residence,” he said.
Pro-freedom groups have asked people to ostracise the pro-India politicians until they tender a public apology and join the Kashmir’s mainstream fight for freedom. Following the announcement, a senior functionary of the opposition NC, Iftikhar Misgar, quit the party and joined the pro-freedom agitation. Misgar fought two back-to-back assembly elections in Anantnag on NC ticket, contesting against Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and then his daughter Mehbooba Mufti. He lost both times.