National Conference Working President Omar Abdullah on Sunday denounced the anti-student and anti-youth repression in the Valley and said the wanton use of unbridled force and oppressive tactics against protesting students won’t help in restoring peace but would add to the already alarming level of alienation on the ground.
Addressing a party function held at Party Head Office ‘Nawa-e-Subha’ in Srinagar to commemorate the death anniversaries of NC stalwarts Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg and Khwaja Ghulam Mohuiddin Shah, the National Conference Working President said the sense of political uncertainty in the State was unprecedented as the current State Government and the Central Government had created a very precarious situation due to a complete lack of political engagement and initiative. Paying glowing tributes to Late Mirza Afzal Beg and Late Khwaja Mohuiddin Shah, the NC Working President highlighted their historic and unparalleled contributions to the party and the people.
“Late Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg Sahib’s contribution to the State and its people is historic, especially his commendable role in implementing Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah’s landmark ‘Land to the Tiller’ reforms which unshackled the people of the State from the clutches of feudalism and slavery. Late Khwaja Mohuiddin Shah Sahib was a party stalwart and an epitome of loyalty at all crucial junctures in history. Khwaja Mohuiddin Shah Sahab always chose the party’s interests over his own interests and remained loyal and steadfast till his last breath. I had the good fortune of working with Khwaja Mohuiddin Shah Sahab and have keenly observed his unparalleled wisdom, political acumen and dedication to serve the party and the people of the State. It is precisely because of this exemplary loyalty that Khwaja Mohuiddin Shah was known by the sobriquet of ‘Wafadaar Shah’”, Omar Abdullah said.
Speaking about the current situation in the State, the NC Working President said “While the Central Government’s conscious decision to not engage with the political issue in Kashmir has worsened the situation in the State, the PDP-BJP Government’s complete and total failure has compounded the sense of unease and disaffection. The PDP-BJP Alliance has been in power for almost two and a half years now and they have not fulfilled even a single promise both parties made individually ahead of the elections and then also collectively as an alliance in their alleged ‘Agenda of Alliance’. To add insult to injury, the Government of India and the BJP have both distanced themselves from all promises of the ‘Agenda of the Alliance’ formally and publicly”, the National Conference Working President said in his address.
“Rather than paying heed to the growing discontent and unease among the youth of the State, Mehbooba Mufti’s Government has unleashed an unprecedented wave of brute force to quell student protests. The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that teargas shells were fired even inside the premises of the Women’s College in Srinagar. In other parts of the Valley, college and school campuses were recently put under a siege as forces were allowed to barge in and suppress student protests. Was it too much to expect from Mehbooba Mufti that she could have visited these campuses and especially the Women’s Colleges and sat with the aggrieved and anguished students and heard them out? Rather than doing that, the State Government chose to invent complex motivations for these protests”, Omar Abdullah further said.
Asking the Central Government to acknowledge the underlying political issue in Kashmir, Omar Abdullah said no amount of development and economic packages could possibly compensate for a monumental failure to address the political issue. “I have said this in the presence of visiting Prime Ministers and I have said this in the Legislative Assembly of the State as the Chief Minister and I will say this again – Kashmir is a political issue and has to be resolved politically as per the wishes and aspirations of the people. Military solutions can’t be used to resolve a political problem. The Government in New Delhi should acknowledge the adverse implications of the status-quo in Kashmir and engage in sustained talks with stakeholders in J&K as well as the Government of Pakistan. Continued hostility between the two neighbours on the LoC and the International Border has a direct bearing on peace and stability in J&K”, the NC Working President added.
Warning the PDP-BJP Government against any misadventures on the GST regime extension to the State, the NC Working President said the party won’t allow the State Government to facilitate an erosion of the State’s fiscal autonomy to please the powers that be in New Delhi. “Jammu and Kashmir cannot be compared to other States. We have our own Constitution, our special status and our own fiscal autonomy – which is non-negotiable. We met the Governor recently to apprise him of our stand on this crucial issue and also demanded that the State Government invites all stakeholders and holds an All Party Meeting to divulge its plans and policy on GST before summoning a Special Session of the Legislative Assembly. National Conference will not allow the State’s fiscal autonomy to be eroded at any cost”, Omar Abdullah said while addressing the gathering.
Expressing his disappointment over the State Government’s abandonment of the ‘Return and Rehabilitation Policy’ initiated by the previous National Conference-led Government, the NC Working President said those youth who want to return to their homes and hearths and resume their lives should be allowed avenues and opportunities to come back. “Sadly the present Government has completely abandoned the ‘Return and Rehabilitation Policy’ and those youth who try to come back are either sent back from the Nepal border or detained. This contradicts the tall rhetoric of the PDP about healing the wounds of turmoil and facilitating reconciliation on ground”, Omar Abdullah further said.
Those who spoke on the occasion and paid glowing tributes to Late Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg and Late Khwaja Mohuiddin Shah included NC General Secretary Haji Ali Muhammad Sagar, Additional General Secretary Dr. Sheikh Mustafa Kamal, Senior Vice President Chaudhary Muhammad Ramzan, Muhammad Shafi Uri, Provincial President Nasir Aslam Wani, Sharif-ud-din Shariq, Muhammad Akbar Lone, Sakina Ittoo, Irfan Ahmed Shah and Peer Muhammad Afaq.
Earlier in the day, Fateha Khwaani was held and floral tributes offered at the graveyards of the two veteran NC stalwarts at Chattabal, Srinagar and Sarnal, Anantnag. Those who participated in the Fateha Khwaani at Chattabal, Srinagar included NC General Secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar, Mubarak Gul, Provincial President Mr. Nasir Aslam Wani, Muhammad Yaseen Shah, District President Srinagar Peer Muhammad Afaq and Mir Ghulam Rasool Naz. The Fateha Khwaani and floral tributes on behalf of the party was led by District President Dr. Muhammad Shafi, MLA Abdul Majeed Larmi and various senior leaders at Sarnal. Commemorative functions were also held at Sher-e-Kashmir Bhawan in Jammu and NC Office in Kargil.
Meanwhile Senior National Conference Leader and Former Finance Minister, Abdul Rahim Rather in his message has paid glowing tributes to Late Mirza Afzal Beg and Late Khwaja Mohuiddin Shah on their death anniversaries and said their contribution to the State and its people through their steadfast service and loyalty will be remembered for generations to come.