Separatist Stand On Protest Calendar Unnerves Mehbooba

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Srinagar: Much against the hopes of “good news” as expected by the government, the “rigid” stand of separatists to continue with the ongoing agitation in Kashmir has unnerved Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti even as she is scheduled to fly back to the Valley this weekend to chair a “critical” meeting on situation in restive Valley. A “massive crackdown on miscreants” is believed to be on the cards.

Sources said Mehbooba was optimistic that by allowing separatist leaders to hold a meeting with the “stakeholders” on November 8 at the Hyder Pora residence of Hurriyat (M) Chairman, Syed Ali Geelani, the development would bring “good news” and the life would limp back to normal in the coming days.

“But the stand taken by the separatists that people want them to go ahead with the protest program, dashed such hopes of restoration of law and order in near future,” said a source privy to the Chief Minister.

Sources said Mehbooba is being advised to go for a “major crackdown” which apart from arrest of over 2000 wanted youth may include detention of some other faces from within the civil society. The government has already arrested some 10,000 youth in the ongoing unrest.

Sources said some of the “well wishers” including Peoples Democratic Party leaders and government officials had “guaranteed” Mehbooba that situation would improve after the meeting between the separatists and the “stakeholders.”

Earlier this week, Geelani and his counterparts including Hurriyat M Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation  Front, Chairman, Muhammad Yasin Malik had held a meeting with the “stakeholders”, including prominent faces from the business fraternity and the civil society, wherein it was resolved to continue the ongoing agitation.

Two days on, while Malik was rearrested today and Mirwaiz put under house arrest, the police is understood to have told the Chief Minister, who is also the Home Minister, that a “massive crackdown” would be needed to “restore law and order.”

However Mehbooba, as per sources, has asked the administration in Kashmir, to wait till she visits the Valley. Sources Chief Minister is expected to fly to the summer capital on November 12.

As earlier reported by Kashmir Observer, the government was already planning a “major crackdown” including arrest of wanted youth from areas in the civil lines here but the plan was dropped in the wake of “separatist-stakeholder talks”.

“Infact the intelligence inputs were that given the public sentiment for restoration of normalcy, the strike would be softened, paving way for schools and other activities to resume as normal. But the calculations proved wrong,” said an official close to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat.

While the ruling Peoples Democratic Party is tight lipped over the short-lived freedom granted to the separatist leaders, within an hour of the arrest of Malik and Mirwaiz, the coalition partner Bharatiya Janta Party ridiculed at the meeting between separatists and “stakeholders” terming it “eyewash”.

The BJP spokesman Khalid Jahangir said “Kashmiri people don’t recognize the so-called civil society members, who have advised separatists to continue the shutdown in Kashmir.”

In a statement the BJP spokesman said, “The people, who attended the so-called meeting of stakeholders, comprised of businessmen, who are multi-millionaires and have got nothing to do with the common people. Besides these few people, separatists had invited their own activists for the meeting to ensure that no one opposes them so that they can carry on with the protest calendar which has ruined Kashmir.”

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