Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is caught in an extremely difficult situation as barely two weeks have passed since she took oath and now she is in deep waters of trouble from NIT to Handwara. Mehbooba Mufti has professed that she will try to implement the vision of her late father for which he entered into unpopular alliance with BJP for the people of Kashmir. She said that she may be consumed while trying to fulfill the wishes of her late father and only in few days after assuming power, she is really facing lot of heat while being in chair.
Mehbooba was in Delhi when troopers and police killed three persons including an aged woman at Handwara. The second day of protests was no different as another youth was killed at Dragmulla Kupwara making the situation really tense and explosive. She met all ministers including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, showing the haste she is facing from within to do something as she is feeling that she may not get more time to implement the agenda of alliance as the situation is showing only the drift. Army and J&K Police on the very second day of her instructions as the Home Minister of the State that SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) should be followed and maximum restraint should be exercised while dealing with law and order problems in J&K state showed how much they obey her instructions on the ground. Although desperate Mehbooba telephoned everyone from her DGP to Core Commander to Union Defence Minister, all these phone calls conclude at one point that an elected Chief Minister of J&K State who has promised to bring back the respect of the chair, dwindled by former chief minister, that she too has to knock the doors of New Delhi for getting justice to these killings. Can she get anything beyond promises from New Delhi, as the previous killings in Kashmir are testimony to the fact that they have only promised and have never delivered?
These killings have brought back the debate of AFSPA; is it really a cover provided by New Delhi for armed forces to kill Kashmiri youth like sitting ducks. An important point can be raised that J&K Police has the provision of law to arrest any army or paramilitary person for the charges of murder and they have not to wait for any permission for the same from Union Defence Ministry. Has the Chief Ministers of J&K State abdicated their responsibility only for power? Are they really serious to bring back the powers of this chair and its prestige from New Delhi? It is important to ask if really they need permission to assert as Chief Minister or Home Minister of the State or they are using it as ruse to keep New Delhi happy and show them by their silence that they only want to enjoy power and have left such matters in the hands of New Delhi.
Mehbooba Mufti has more problems than faced by her opposition leader Omar Abdullah as Chief Minister of J&K State. She has been very vocal against human rights violations and has made her party PDP purely by shedding tears in the homes of those who lost their dear ones in the ongoing conflict when she was in the opposition. She used to ridicule Omar Abdullah for leaving law and order of J&K State in the hands of New Delhi. Omar Abdullah during 2010 unrest could not even announce the imposition and lifting of curfew as it was being done by Union Home Secretary himself. Omar was really rattled by those killings and he could do little to save the young from being killed by police and CRPF and finally decided to carry on as chief minister for the sake of power without doing anything to stop such killings. He also tried his best to get APSFA revoked, but the stiff resistance by army, he could not do it. Similarly his dream of peace and reconciliation commission was dashed by Union Government as he was told not to utter such unreasonable demands in public.
Mehbooba Mufti is now Chief Minister and Home Minister of J&K State. She cannot rush to Handwara and join the protesters and accuse the government of inaction. She is responsible to stop such killings and she has to answer and she cannot raise the questions. Uneasy is always the head which wears the crown, but Mehbooba would be feeling giddy because there is lot of pressure on her as she is feeling that with each passing day she is becoming more visible agent of New Delhi out to implement the agenda of RSS in Kashmir Valley. This perception is only growing among the people of Valley as the NIT Srinagar crisis and Handwara killings have made this perception in public stronger.
Author teaches at Media Education Research Centre, Kashmir University. She can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org