Jammu: Leader of Opposition and former chief minister Omar Abdullah on Tuesday lashed out at the Mehbooba Mufti government for taking the state into “mayhem”, and questioned several of the government’s actions for which it is claiming credit, including the holding of panchayat elections in February.
Commenting on the Governor’s Address to the state legislature, Omar said that the coalition PDP-BJP government was responsible for “creating more militants and it is no matter of pride if 200 of them were killed in 2017”.
“You blamed me for creating one Burhan Wani but do you know how many Wanis were created by you in the past one-and-a-half year?” Omar asked. Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing by government forces on July 8, 2016, had triggered a massive public uprising in which above 90 civilians were killed.
Referring to reports that a Kashmiri scholar at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) had joined Hizb, Omar lambasted the government for taking “pride in killing huge number of militants in one year”.
“It raises the question why the number of youths joining militant ranks increased during your period?” Omar said in the legislative assembly, pointing towards the treasury benches.
On the panchayat elections announced for February, he said, “We know your MLAs have expressed reservation about holding panchayat elections. The situation is not yet stable and, God forbid, if anything happens during the elections. You are the same government that did not hold elections for Lok Sabha in Anantnag.”
Slamming the government for its “double standards”, Omar said that the government was first blinding youth with pellets and then giving jobs to them.
He blamed the government for the increase in militancy in Kashmir. “It is because of your policies that the era of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) is back and our security forces are being killed,” Omar said, referring to the IED blast in Sopore that killed four policemen. “The fear of IEDs had vanished but you brought it back,” Omar said.
The National Conference (NC) working president accused the government of reviving the culture of crackdowns and CASOs (cordon-and-search operations) in villages. “It is as routine now as it was in 1990s,” he said.
Omar asked Mehbooba Mufti to have “ehsaas” (realization) of what was happening in the state. “We heard a lot about peace, healing touch, Goli nahi Boli (Talks, not Bullets) and then, after the August 15, 2017 speech from Red Fort we thought something will happen when the PM said that Kashmiris need to be embraced. But what happened? Nothing.”
On the Government of India’s special representative for Jammu & Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, he said, “We are still in confusion whether he is a special representative or interlocutor or spokesperson”.
Sharma, Omar said, can’t even decide whom to talk to. “There is no clarity… he can’t solve issues of transformers, jobs, water and roads for which you are there (in government),” he told Mehbooba Mufti.
Omar said that the government should not repeat mistakes of the past, some of which were committed by his government, too. “You should correct them… People have already lost expectations from such a process (appointment of interlocutors),” he said.
“We come to know that the CM and (Dineshwar) Sharma visit the same places… the guest houses are being repaired only for your visits,” he said.
Omar suggested that Sharma should meet those who can help solve “big issues”, not daily issues of roads, electricity and water.
Referring to the Governor’s comments about the governance deficit in the state, Omar said, “Even the governor does not trust you.”
Criticising the government for its failure to revive tourism, Omar said that people associated with this sector were in deep stress. “They have bank loans and tourists are not coming… your finance minister would soon be flying to Delhi to restructure the loans. God forbid, if anything happens in February during panchayat elections, 2018 will also go without any tourism in Kashmir.”
Omar also criticised the government for failing to streamline traffic. “This government has become a government of footbridges, as within a span of one kilometre, four footbridges have been created. What will happen to the traffic if there is only one bridge for vehicles? Every time we see huge rush and jams at the Radio Kashmir chowk,” he said.
Omar said that the announcement of Ring Roads won’t solve the problems of traffic. “You need to address the internal issues of the city,” he said, and added, “Whatever step we took in the developmental sector, you reversed. And every time you can’t blame us and the past 70 years as your deputy chief minister tends to do.”
It is during this government that Kashmiri militants are becoming Fidayeen. “Earlier, Fidayeen would come from Afghanistan and Pakistan but now because of you, locals have joined ths squad,” Omar said referring to the Fidayeen attack on CRPF training centre at Lethpora in Awantipora last month.