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LIEUTENANT Governor Manoj Sinha, in an interview to a national daily, has said that the parties in J&K were free to engage in political activity and there was no proscription. He, however, added that it was up to these parties which direction their politics takes Much of the new politics, according to him, waa “unfortunate” and the government, he said, will see how it can change that. Sinha’s hint was probably about the alliance of the major J&K parties like the PDP and the National Conference along with four others including the national party CPI(M) which seeks the restoration of Article 370 that granted J&K its semi-autonomous status within the Indian Union. However, these parties have said that by seeking return of Article 370 they were not indulging in any anti-national activity but fighting for their constitutional rights.

That said, the LG Sinha’s assurance that his administration will facilitate the political activity in the union territory is welcome. This is important for Kashmir to have a semblance of normalcy. And Sinha being himself a politician would know the importance of a normal political activity to a society. Soon after taking over as the J&K LG three months ago, Sinha called Kashmir “a heaven of India”. He termed the August 5 an important date as “after years of isolation J&K came to mainstream”. More importantly, Sinha affirmed there won’t be any bias against anyone He assured the people that their genuine grievances will be listened to and a way out found. And if the tweets he has issued since his takeover as the LG are anything to go by – one of which was about the Kashmiri pronunciation of the names of the local places – he was already trying to relate to people. .

The past year has sadly been bereft of any political activity not only in the Valley but in Jammu too. The attempts to kickstart it have been frustrated, almost nipped in the bud. An administration headed earlier by a bureaucrat only further deepened this vacuum. This is where the stepping in of a politician LG is expected to make a redeeming difference. And to start with the LG can make the government more responsive to the grievances of the people as he himself has made it clear.

In the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, the Kashmir valley has seen revival of the political activity a year after the politicians across the mainstream-separatist divide were detained following the repeal of the region’s special status. Their activity is needed to fill in the political vacuum that has developed in the region over the last year.

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