In an indication of some rift within the ranks of National Conference, the party’s chief spokesperson Ruhullah Mehdi has shown his resentment over the prolonged silence of the top leaders about the revocation of Article 370. Mehdi didn’t hide his anger over a piece his colleague Tanvir Sadiq wrote in a local daily. The piece has urged New Delhi to let the parties in the Valley resume their political activities. The piece has also given hints of reconciliation should centre review the domicile law and restore the 4G internet. Sadiq didn’t bring up the Article 370 or seek its restoration, an omission that has apparently grated on Mehdi.
It is a fact that the NC has largely maintained silence over post August 5 developments. And this policy didn’t change even after the release from detention of Dr Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah. Both the leaders have, however, said that their silence was in deference to ongoing pandemic. They also want all other leaders to be released before they come out with a future course of action.
However, government has yet to make up its mind about the release of the PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and many other leaders and activists. Similarly, the IAS officer turned politician Shah Faesal also remains in detention. Government had earlier shifted the People’s Conference leader Sajjad Gani Lone to his residence. It would be interesting to see how long more the government waits before it takes a call on their release.
The release of Abdullah and Omar reflected the growing confidence of New Delhi in the improvement of the situation in the erstwhile state. It sees the less likelihood of the situation tipping into turmoil now. More so, in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19 that has plunged the world into a deep crisis. Most of the world has imposed lockdown to fight the spread of the disease. After his release, Omar has promised to play a role in the fight against the disease.
So far the leaders who have been released have maintained silence on Article 370, lending some credence to the reports that they have made good behaviour promises to get their freedom. However, it is only when the senior leaders including Mehbooba are released that we can expect to get some sense of how they will respond to the altered state of affairs. But considering all these leaders have invariably called for peace in the Valley, the government should release them and let them put their point of view before the people. Not doing so, will only prolong the current uncertainty, no matter how normal the Valley might appear on the outside. At the same time, the NC as a party cannot afford to wait endlessly for the release of other leaders before making its position on post August 5 developments clear and taking a stand on it.
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