Sensing Trouble, MLA’s Abandon Constituencies

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Srinagar: Even as Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti had directed her council of ministers and other lawmakers to be stationed at various district headquarters and towns to personally monitor situation in restive Kashmir, these legislators have started fleeing the makeshift control rooms only to reach back to their “secure” villas in the summer capital here.

In most of the cases, in a bid to avoid mob fury, the lawmakers, taking advantage of darkness rushed back to Srinagar at midnight and expressed a sigh of relief on reaching back here.

Sources said following a meeting held on July 12 with the Chief Minister, some of the lawmakers had been deputed to be camped in various constituencies for on-the-spot assessment of the ground situation and necessary feedback to the Chief Minister.

But insiders said the plan failed to remain impressive from day one.

Sources said in one such case a junior minister had to face embarrassment, right from the beginning.

Assigned the task to be camped at Kulgam, the lawmaker had called a joint meeting with administration and the civil society.

The junior minister, as per the insiders, aspired to take a video footage of the meeting and get it circulated through electronic media to give a feeling of “improvement in situation.”

But to Government’s shock, rarely any civilian turned up for the meeting. Sources said finding no public representation the concerned officials instantly asked the government employees present at the district headquarter to make it to conference hall to “give a feel on the camera that the meeting was well attended.”

But given the strict curfew, not many of the staffers had turned up for their duties. Sources said finally some of the escort staff and even drivers from the official motorcades were called in to be seated for the “photo session.”

But such meetings largely failed to give “desired results as were expected by the government.”

Kashmir continues to be on the edge. While over 40 civilians have died hundreds more have been wounded in use of force by the security forces.

As the violent protests continued to grow louder, sources most of the lawmakers decided to rush back to their fortified villas in the summer capital in plush localities like Gupkar and Tulsi Bagh.

While the news of attack on PDP lawmaker Muhammad Khalle Badh, who was attacked by mobs in Pulwama on July 18, while trying to leave the district at midnight has already hogged the headlines, several other lawmakers equally left their assigned headquarters in the dead of the dark to reach back “safe heavens in Srinagar.”

Insiders said in one such case, the motorcade of a minister camping in Pulwama was also targeted. “In fact the protesters tried to torch his vehicle but the motorcade managed to flee,” the insiders said.

Insiders said the concerned were asked not to leak the news as it would send a “bad signal.”  Sources, however, said the news leaked from escort of the minister as the security men shared with their families, the news of their close shave during the “escape at midnight.” “Some of his security staff is believed to have leaked the news and this is how it went viral,” the insiders said.

While the news went viral in the corridors of power, the minister has been telling his colleague and friends that no such incident took place, and that he was back to Srinagar when protests erupted in Pulwama.

Lawmakers deputed to north Kashmir areas have also returned to their own homes, said a senior official.

Sources said such lawmakers want to convey to the government that their presence at various constituencies won’t be of any help till the killing spree and other use of excessive force is not stopped by the security forces. The lawmakers are equally annoyed with the communication breakdown due to suspension of phone connectivity.

Despite repeated attempts the lawmakers who fled back to Srinagar could not be contacted for comments.

 

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