Sordid end of coalition government

By K.N. Pandita

The coalition government has collapsed, perhaps belatedly. Hindsight shows that much damage could have been averted if the government had fallen much earlier.

Coalition governments are not unknown in a democratic set up. However, at least there has to be a modicum of ideological compatibility. When BJP decided to be the partner in a coalition government with PDP after previous election, two things could become transparent.

One was that the BJP betrayed no qualms of conscience in deviating from its cut and dried nationalistic policy as is generally believed. Secondly, it was also clear that BJP was motivated only by lust of power and would not hesitate to function as backbencher. The parties unusually took a long time to negotiate a deal known as Agreement of Alliance.

The mystery about this Agreement further deepened when its re-negotiation protracted over three month under the mask of mourning in the family of late Mufti Saeed, the then chief minister.

The Agreement of Alliance is one more such document of Kashmir history as has never been made fully public. Some commentators believe that it is more a document of acquiescence on the part of BJP than anything close to agreement.

The sailing of the coalition was never smooth and people never considered it a stable government capable of delivering the goods. BJPs performance as coalition partner was dismal and disappointing. The impression was that the chief minister subtly carried forward her policy and planning with or without the agreement of BJP partners. She considered them worthy of neglect. Never ever during the entire period of coalition did BJP put down its foot on matters of propriety particularly when the interests of Jammu were at stake. Late Mufti Saeed had struck the deal with clear intention to neutralise the opposition forces in Jammu, who, historically speaking, have never showed maturity of realpolitik and, by and large, have remained content with rabble rousing or slogan mongering.

After neutralising BJP as mere factotum, late Mufti Saeed began to unfold his party’s agenda. He raised sensitive issues like lessening the visibility of security forces over-ground, the tantrum of AFSPA, displacement of some senior police officer who he did not trust would follow his line, revitalizing trans-LoC trade and dialogue with Pakistan etc. He did not make any change in the policy of the previous regime in regard to extending more than necessary largesse to the militants returning from PoK/Pakistan. Not only that, he also had begun to question the role of some very senior officers of the army commanding troops in Kashmir and devising their methodology in handling terrorists either while clandestinely crossing the border of planning strikes inside the valley on police and security forces camps. The NDA government went on pocketing one after the other insult from the J&K Chief Minister.

PDP was born from the womb of militancy in 1998. It was actually Mahbooba Mufti who carved the constituency of separatists and secessionists in South Kashmir in order to give teeth to newly formed party called PDP. In doing so, she established closest liaison with the Jamaat-i-Islami with its stronghold in three districts of South Kashmir which are now agog with terrorist activities.

The collapse of the coalition government was becoming more and more evident as militancy related incidents began to show an upward graph during past one year but particularly during recent six months. Mahbooba has been relentlessly asking for Indo-Pak dialogue and even going to the extent of saying that peace cannot return to Kashmir unless the warring countries agreed to resolve the dispute. Indirectly, she was not only helping the insurgents and secessionists in Kashmir but was also responding to the persuasions of Pakistan. The tone and tenor of her public speeches was always riveted to withdrawal of armed forces but she never made any appeal or admonishments to the gun wielding terrorists to shun violence. It was she who opened the shrill note on the use of pellet guns by the security forces and vehemently criticised their use against the stone pelters, who she knew very well were paid by the Jamaat-i-Islami sources. She failed to take any meaningful action against stone-pelters except that some of them were apprehended but let off soon after without punitive punishment.

In more recent times, it became clear that the bureaucracy and almost all institutions of the administration were infested with anti-India sentiment. The administration was virtually run by the Jamaat-i-Islami as their writ ran everywhere. A large number of developmental schemes initiated by the Central government and funded by them remained dismally unimplemented. This was an intentional move to discredit the centre and stimulate not only alienation but also hatred for the country.

Her regime took no steps to stem the tide of radicalization of Kashmir. The clergy imported from other parts of the country, particularly from UP and Bihar spate venom against India in their mosque sermons notwithstanding the fact that they receive their salary from a special fund provided by the Centre. Anything that would strengthen nationalism and integration of the State with the Union was subverted in very subtle manner.

The manner in which she dealt with illegal immigration of Rohingyas by making an understatement in the Assembly shows that the hue and cry raised occasionally about Article 370 and special status of Kashmir becomes irrelevant and ineffective when the matter pertains to religious proclivity. Allotment of forest lands to the awqaf for construction of mosques, ignoring the forcible occupation of the lands belonging to Hindu shrines and individuals, selective transfer of police and revenue officers and officials and issuance of many controversial government orders that are politically motivated are all a hard fact and need no evidence.

The way Kathua incident was handled and the Kashmir police asked to probe the issue was only aimed at drawing a wedge between the Gujjars and the Dogras of the locality that have been living in peace and harmony since centuries. The purpose is to carve out a constituency with religious propensity in an area that has high strategic importance in the wake of Pakistan’s intentions of search for a link between Doda and the International Border wherefrom Pakistan can push terrorists to strengthen their rank and file.

Why did Mahbooba regime file an FIR against Sushil Pandit? It did so to muzzle the voice of criticism and out of intolerance for criticism. Sushil Pandit had the courage to expose the gross anti-national and pro-ISI designs of the regime. Did her government file an FIR against the valley-based leaders who make no mistake in whipping up religious frenzy in their Friday congregational prayers, who issue calls for strikes, who openly say that they are for secession from India and accession for Pakistan. Even those journalists and columnists known for their forthright criticism of some controversial and offensive policy decisions of the government have been persecuted indirectly. Haseeb Drabu became intolerable for saying that Kashmir issue had not only the political dimension.

Regime’s dubious and anti-national policies were the mean reason for widespread corruption and bribery in the administration of the State. For valley-based patently anti-national media there is no censorship and intelligence sources are fully aware of the sources of their funding. This is blatant misuse of the freedom of press.

All credit should go to the army which has made huge sacrifices to perform its duty within the frame of the law. The visit of the chief of the army to the family of deceased policeman Aurangazeb of Mendhar has sent across a message that it will perform its duty to the nation and to the people of the State notwithstanding the sacrifices it has to make.

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