Experts on Kashmir argue that the 2016 summer uprising in Kashmir against India-rule has its genesis since 1947 when India sub continent was divided into India and Pakistan. But Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee president, G A Mir, tells Mir Farhat in this interview that the uprising is a people’s reaction against PDP’s alliance with BJP.
How does Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee see the uprising that erupted after July 8?
It is unfortunate that innocent civilians have been murdered in the last nearly three months. It should not have happened. But the Congress thinks that the unrest which erupted after July 8 (when Hibz commander Burhan Wani was killed) has its background in the in recent past. PDP and BJP fought 2014 assembly elections against each other. PDP did not talk about Self Rule and development in its poll campaigns, but sought votes on stopping RSS from entering Kashmir. And BJP sought votes against family politics, which meant vote against Kashmir. Both these parties polarized voters in Kashmir and Jammu regions and won the elections. But after winning elections, both the parties betrayed their voters by forming an alliance. PDP instead of choosing other options or asking for re-elections did otherwise. And so did the BJP. The parties declared in their agenda of alliance to resolve Kashmir issue politically by holding dialogue with all stakeholders, including Hurriyat Conference. Even Mehbooba Mufti appealed people to give her a chance for resolution of Kashmir issue once and for all. But once they formed the government, they did not implement their agenda. Instead, controversial issues like Sainik colonies, migrant colonies and industrial policy came up. Added to that national atmosphere also got heated up by issues like beef ban, burning to death alive of a Kashmir youth in Udhampur, JNU students’ arrest, harassment of Kashmir students in other states. Since, JK is a Muslim-majority state, people here felt endangered and alienated. These issues created uncertainty among youth here that the PDP-led alliance is not going to address their issues but making their future vulnerable. So all these issue created an impact here and came out in the form of an outburst due to July 8 incident.
Congress is blaming PDP-BJP alliance for the current uprising. People are on roads demanding “Azadi” from India, not change of government. Many say the uprising is fallout of betrayal of promises made by India with people of JK?
Anger has different reasons. There are different opinions about it. Some say it is erosion of 1953 position of State, some 1975 accord (Sheikh Abdullah-Indira Gandhi), some 1987 (rigging of Assembly elections). But the present situation has emerged because of the politics that has prevailed in the last two years. The alliance [between PDP-BJP] is the main reason for the unrest.
Are you saying PDP is responsible for these protests and the present situation in Kashmir?
I have mentioned it in the recent all parties meeting that we had in Kashmir that the seeds of the present situation were sown by PDP when it was in opposition and during 2014 Assembly elections. PDP promised one thing to people in opposition but did other things when in government. PDP raised aspirations of people so high by saying that they entered into alliance with BJP which has a full majority and a strong Prime Minister in Narendra Modi. When they were so confident why didn’t the government deliver? It even did not take a single positive step in the last two years.
In the all party meeting, Mehbooba Mufti asked me that Congress should support us in taking positive steps. I assured him of my support but first told her that to show us the roadmap that she had discussed with Modi. But neither the Prime Minister nor the chief minister have spoken about the roadmap. Our initiatives and roadmaps are in public. Such as Working Groups. We are telling the government to start from the reports of working groups.
You are talking about working groups. But Congress was in power from 2002 to 2012, so why didn’t it work on such reports. Even interlocutors report was not implemented?
Then BJP was in opposition and did not come on board on these reports and groups. They would spit venom in public about these reports and our roadmaps. BJP would say Congress is appeasing Muslims, Kashmiris and Pakistan. But at present, Congress is playing a constructive role for resolution of the issue. We are not a hindrance before PDP or Modi for taking positive steps on Kashmir about its resolution.
People in Kashmir say that New Delhi, be it Congress or BJP in power there, is not serious about political resolution of Kashmir issue?
No. New Delhi is always serious about Kashmir. Be it Congress, BJP or other shot term governments. But I think state-based political parties have failed to evolve a consensus here for resolution of the issue. All the political parties in the state must sit together to present their views about resolving the issue and consolidate them consensually and then present a roadmap before New Delhi. We as leaders of different parties can convince people with our common roadmap that we will come up with.
But do you think the political parties here can demand resolution of Kashmir outside the constitutional framework of India?
All former prime minister like Rajiv Gandhi, P. V. Narasimha Rao (sky is the limit statement), Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Jamhooriyat, Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat phrase have talked about Kashmir. You see prime ministers opening up to you. Even the present home minister, though he of a different political party, recently came here and said that he will talk under Jamhooriyat, Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat. But the other section of politicians here don’t move from their stated positions. As a politician, one has to move away from his stated position for resolution of issues. The other section should be ready to soften their stand to resolve the political issues. Let’s us move ahead.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh arrived here twice, but no political process happened?
Home Minister should decode the list of stake holders. The ambiguity around ‘all stakeholders’ should be cleared. Who are the people which the government of India considers stakeholders. If the list of stakeholders is not decoded, if people do not know who are the stakeholders, then the appeals for dialogue are not genuine. We also demanded that the home minister should decode the word stakeholders. The list of names who will be stakeholders should be gazetted officially. It will make clear which people GoI is willing to talk to.
How do you think the state as well as the centre dealt with the two-month long uprising?
Both the governments purely mishandled the situation. From day first, their approach was to crush the protesters. They should have appealed to the people for peace rather than crushing them by force. Why is not Mehbooba Mufti, who claimed herself to be the sole representative of people, reaching out to people, especially in south Kashmir which she said was the inheritance of her father. Why are the people who voted for her in elections on roads against her? The government lost the control on the people. Police, paramilitary forces, BSF, and the last option army, was used to control the situation. Even now if they are not able to control the situation, then PDP has to take a decision about their role.
How is Congress seeing the resignation of one of the founders of PDP, Tariq Hameed Karra?
It was visible from the past more than a year. Not only Karra Sahab but there were other different voices and crises in the PDP after the formation of alliance with BJP. May be he was waiting for the leadership to take a step to restore the confidence of the people. But since no such step was taken, he decided to call it a day with PDP.
Both state and the centre governments deny the protests were spontaneous but are accusing Pakistan for instigating people?
I don’t know what intelligence and inputs they have got because I am not in the government. Mehbooba Mufti must have all the inputs. She can explain it. But we can say that the protests are an outburst against the PDP and BJP alliance.
Have pro-Indian parties lost their credibility among people here due to these protests?
We cannot say anything about it now which party has lost and which has gained. Until the representatives reach out to their constituencies, nobody can assess his position among the people. Since communication was blocked, we could not even talk to our voters and workers. We don’t have any communication with our workers. Only ruling parties have the means to communicate with their workers. The government has framed and booked people who are with opposition parties. In some case, those persons have been booked who were working or studying outside the state during this period. In such grave situation, when government should restore peace it is playing politics.
Many exams and post were advertised during the uprising. Was it right when the situation was not favourable for it?
It is strange and tragic that government advertised many posts and held exams during this turmoil. In a situation, when there is no communication, no internet, no transport, how can the process be transparent. How can aspirants get the applications, fill them and reach the respective offices to submit them. Appointing anyone at his point of time is the process of backdoor and purely illegal.
SPOs posts in police department were advertised during this period. How did the aspirants got application forms from police offices? There are reports that ruling party MLAs managed the forms for their workers, filled them in their homes and sent them to respective SP offices.
Do you have any evidence to substantiate your allegations that ruling party MLAs filled forms of SPOs for their workers?
When people say it, you don’t need evidence. It is clear that no internet, no phones, no transport is available since July 8. Curfew was imposed for two months. How could an aspirant from Keran, far flung areas of Budgam, Ganderbal, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and other districts in the Valley reach the district headquarters to get the form? How is the government claiming that 5000 aspirants have applied for SPOs? Which SHO office they went to apply before? Only those people are going to SHO’s whose relatives have been detained. So, Congress believes that this whole process is not transparent. All such appointments are backdoor and illegal.
(This interview is reproduced from Archive)