Over the past 47 days, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has made a series of statements that have been polar opposites to what she had been saying as an opposition leader. That is why her utterances have grated on the people. Some of these like stating that only 5 percent of the people in Kashmir were a part of the ongoing uprising has generated a great deal of public resentment and elicited strong reactions from the separatist and civil society groups. If anything, Mehbooba’s statements have only aggravated the situation and stoked further anger against the mainstream politicians. In recent weeks, there have been several attacks on the houses of the PDP politicians and those of the others across the state, including in its political strongholds in South Kashmir.
Last week, an irate mob attacked the house of the ruling PDP legislator Muhammad Yusuf Bhat at South Kashmir’s Shopian, considered to be the party’s pocket borough. Though Bhat’s house was saved by the security forces who soon reached the spot, the crowd had already torched the guard room.
Earlier, the protesters attacked Muhammad Khalil Bandh, a PDP legislator from the neighbouring constituency of Pulwama, while he was on his way to Srinagar. So ferocious was the attack that Bandh’s vehicle overturned as crowd chased him but before the protesters could get to him, he was rescued by his security guards. What is more, he was taken to Army Base Hospital in Badami Bagh cantonment for treatment and not to a civilian healthcare facility where the authorities feared he could be again assaulted. A petrol bomb was hurled at the house of the senior PDP leader and the state government spokesman Naeem Akhtar at Parraypora in Srinagar. However, he and his family were not there at the time of the attack. Akhtar shifted to the high security Gupkar area following his appointment as the J&K Education Minister. Earlier Akhar’s cavalcade had been attacked with stones while he was returning from his hometown in North Kashmir’s Bandipora town
The runaway public rage has forced some leaders to change the loyalty and join protesters. One such leader is Iftikhar Hussain Misgar from the opposition National Conference. On August 1, Misgar who unsuccessfully contested 2014 Assembly polls and the recent by-election from Anantnag, sought public apology for being a part of the mainstream political camp and announced his resignation from his party before a crowd of people outside his house. He also chanted anti-India and pro-Azadi slogans, the video of which was circulated on social media.
Though indiscriminate killings and the blindings have fuelled fury against the mainstream politicians, their ill-advised and provocative statements have made it worse. Senior PDP leader Muzaffar Beigh recently told centre that the ongoing turmoil in Kashmir is Islamist in nature and its goal was the establishment of Nizam-e-Mustafa. There has so far not been a shred of remorse for the virtual slaughter that this government has perpetrated. And CM who is expected to behave more responsibly and be responsive to the state of affairs has spoken in the most insensitive manner possible. One can’t but wonder what on earth did happen to a leader who until her assumption of office in April seemed to make all the right noises in Kashmir. Under the circumstances, the least that we could expect from CM and her government is to get its communication right. By the way the sate government is communicating with people, it may be only fuelling the conflict in Kashmir.
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