After losing the Valley to the opposition, the National Conference (NC) must ask itself why people have rejected it. The dynamics in Kashmir have changed over the past two decades, and people cannot be fooled by hollow slogans now. But this does not mean that people love the PDP. Before jumping to conclusions, it must be borne in mind that around 70 per cent people opted to stay away from polling booths. Those who ventured out did not vote for the PDP because they like it. They hate the NC and showed it by voting for the PDP. But why do people hate the NC?
The Sher-e-Kashmir is no more, and those who followed him blindly have also passed away. The NC led by Dr Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah has failed the people time and again. Their government promised the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) but made no formal request in Delhi. It said that a team to bring Jaleel Andrabi’s killer, Major Avtar Singh, back from the US had been sent to the Indian capital, and this also proved false. The NC-led government could not save Afzal Guru. Omar Abdullah had been informed about his hanging, but he feigned ignorance. They killed 130 youth in 2010. Scores of scams surfaced, but no action was taken. Hundreds of inquiries were ordered into human rights abuses, but not a single person was brought to justice. The NC government did not follow the petition on the Re-Settlement Act in the Supreme Court. Four percent reservation was given to Scheduled Castes even in Srinagar district to appease the Jammu lobby.
And people responded by rejecting the party that once made hearts beat in Kashmir. The party has to go to the people again in October this year. It can do some damage control by ordering an enquiry into the 2010 killings, by following the petition on the Re-Settlement Act in the Supreme Court seriously, and by getting the AFSPA revoked. Remember, it is within the competence of the state legislature to revoke the draconian law.
The Public Safety Act too needs to be lifted. Political prisoners who have been languishing in jails for years together need to be released without further delay. Curbs on the pro-resistance leadership must go. And, of course, the government has to take up developmental projects. People should feel that a government is in place.