Altaf Bukhari surfaces in Amira Kadal constituency, ‘counsels’ youth

Srinagar: Even as for the past over a month, the lawmakers from the ruling coalition have been staying away from people in restive Kashmir, senior Peoples Democratic Party leader and MLA, Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari has taken a lead by surfacing in his Amira Kadal constituency here.

Exactly after of 40 days after his disappearance from public circles, Bukhari resurfaced in Maharaja Bazar locality in the City center. The other day, at around 11:30 AM, the businessman-turned-politician Bukhari riding his black sedan reached besieged Maharaja Bazar area.

At a time when the mainstream leaders are “scared” of unrest on Kashmir streets and many faced public fury, he visited the congested locality with mere two vehicles of escort, mainly comprising of paramilitary CRPF personnel. SHO Shergarhi, however, was already present in the locality, along with four odd cops.

Donning a Pakistani style Shalwar-Kameez and Nehru-jacket, Bukhari alighted out of his bulletproof vehicle at Hazuri Bagh side of the deserted marketplace.

His close aides insisted that the MLA visited the area to take stock of damage caused by a recent fire when a few municipal shops were gutted there. For Bukhari, however, it proved a golden opportunity to reach out to the protesting youth of locality, from where armed insurgency erupted in Kashmir in 1990s.

After interacting with some of fire affected, Bukhari spend some good 15 -20 minutes with the youth. “See if you don’t mend your ways, you will get booked by police and I won’t be able to help you then. So it’s my brotherly advise that you mend all your ways and ask others as well to go ahead with peace,” witnesses quoted Bukhari as having said.

Insiders said some PDP workers from the locality facilitated Bukhari’s roadside meeting the “angry youth”.

It’s for the first time in the past 44 days that a lawmaker from the ruling PDP has visited his constituency in the summer capital, and equally held a roadside interaction with the people.

Earlier last month Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti asked the lawmakers from the ruling PDP to be stationed in their respective constituencies. Though most of them managed reaching the constituencies, stay didn’t last for more than a few hours. “It was more of a photo session with some locals at the government offices in the district headquarters to issue government handout,” said an official posted in Pulwama.

Subsequently, during night hours, the lawmakers rushed back to Srinagar to be confined to their fortified government villas in secured zones like Gupkar and Tulsi Bagh. Since then they have been mostly indoors,

While none of the lawmakers have ever visited SHMS Hospital which is bearing the brunt of the crises, some of the ministers didn’t even hoist tricolor at district headquarters on August 15 when they were “duty bound to do so.”

Officials confirmed that those who avoided to take guard of honor on the Independence Day allegedly citing “security reasons” include Naeem Akhter, Molvi Imran Raza Ansari and Sajad Gani Lone, the trio who happen to senior ministers in the government.

They preferred to sit back as audience at the main function held at Bakshi Stadium than take guard of honor elsewhere.

But Bukhari has made a “breakthrough.” Sources said the PDP leadership is delighted over Bukhari’s “feat of reaching out to the people.” “This is a big development for our party. This is a sign of silver lining in the dark clouds,” said a PDP leader, asking not to be identified.

Though Bukhari had emerged as one of the most influential faces during the first innings of the PDP-BJP alliance led by late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, his name was mysteriously dropped from the new council of ministers led by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.

Despite repeated attempts Bukhari could not be contacted for comments.

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