‘There is ambiguity and confusion over the apparent offer of talks with Hurriyat Conference’
BARAMULLA: National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Thursday said the current grave situation of “alienation and hopelessness” in Jammu and Kashmir was a gift of the failed PDP-BJP government.
Addressing a party workers’ convention at Baramulla on Thursday, Omar Abdullah said the prolonged delay by the central and the state government in taking a political initiative despite repeated red flags and deterioration of the situation in Kashmir was unfortunate and had eroded the dividends of a hard-earned peace and stability that had been achieved in the state.
“Why are educated young men choosing the gun over their dreams of employment and a successful, bright future? Doctoral scholars and professors are picking up the gun while the rhetoric of the incumbent government defies ground reality. This is a trend that started after 2014 once PDP bartered its mandate to come to power. The consequences of PDP’s U-turn and betrayal are being borne by the youth of this state who have been left disillusioned and isolated from the system. We worked very hard during our tenure in power to wean away the youth from alienation and militancy and channelize their talent towards entrepreneurship, industry and employment generation”, the NC vice president said while addressing the convention.
“There are people who ask us why a ceasefire wasn’t announced during our previous government that preceded the present PDP-BJP government. The fact of the matter is that there was almost no militancy in the state at that time – local boys were not picking up the gun and joining militant ranks. Today you have dozens of innocent civilians who have been killed around encounter sites, grenade attacks have become a norm and the people are reeling under a sense of anxiety that is both palpable and unprecedented,” Omar said.
“The ceasefire initiative which we demanded and supported should have come much earlier and we have been demanding a political initiative since 2016. In 2016, I led a delegation of opposition leaders from across the board to Delhi where we knocked at the doors of the President, the Prime Minister and Senior Opposition leaders. We didn’t seek the dismissal of this government but relief for the people of the State so that the bloodshed could stop and we wouldn’t have to lose more precious lives. Sadly both the Government of India and the state government didn’t act in 2016 and 2017 and the repercussions of that inaction are here for all of us to see,” Omar Abdullah said.
“Modi has a strong mandate in the Parliament to act. He had the power and the leverage to take a bold initiative on Kashmir as unlike past Prime Ministers, he wasn’t as constrained by compulsions. Unfortunately four years have been wasted and no breakthrough has been achieved. While the Ramzan ceasefire was a welcome move, one needs to wonder what happens after Ramzan ends? In the absence of a follow-up initiative that take the ground realities into account – we will yet again fail to rise to the occasion in acknowledging the slide in Kashmir and our responsibility to stem it,” Omar added.
He said, “One of the starkest indictments of the present dispensation is the failure to conduct the Anantnag Lok Sabha election. Since 1996, this is the longest delay in conducting an election to a vacant seat in the state. And this was seat vacated by the Chief Minister herself. If the Chief Minister cannot ensure the conduct of a by-election to a seat she herself held, one can only express alarm and shock at the state of affairs.”
“There is ambiguity and confusion over the apparent offer of talks with the Hurriyat Conference. Various ministers have portrayed the offer in various different ways. The MoS PMO has said militancy is in its last stages in Kashmir despite the insurmountable evidence to indicate that we are in an alarming state of renewed militancy. How can the Government of India expect the Hurriyat to come forward and talk when the government itself can’t speak in one voice on such a crucial issue? There should be clarity so that some forward movement can be achieved,” Omar Abdullah said.
“The situation in Jammu is equally worrisome. We are losing precious lives in cross LoS and cross border shelling. When we advocate talks with Pakistan we are labelled as “anti-national” by those people whose lives aren’t affected by hostility along our borders. If seeking peace and relief for border dwellers is “anti-national”, then I am an “anti-national””, the NC vice President added.