Turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir

The BJP has always considered direct federal rule in the Jammu and Kashmir region as a viable option

Editorial/Maryam Sarim June 21, 2018

It was a foregone conclusion that the unnatural alliance between the Baharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Peoples Democratic Party would come unstuck sooner than later. From the outset Mehbooba Mufti’s government in the disputed Himalyan territory has looked shaky — hostage as it was to the whims and fancies of an increasingly petulant BJP.

Using Indian national interest as a pretext, the BJP has always considered direct federal rule in the Jammu and Kashmir region as a viable option. In the end, the coalition partners grew apart on a host of issues namely the increased violence and radicalisation in Kashmir, threats to fundamental rights in the Valley, and arrested development in the region. Leaders of the BJP also found Mehbooba Mufti’s style of governance a little perplexing and were unhappy at her penchant for so-called unilateral decisions without taking her coalition members onboard. But what clearly riled the BJP leaders was Mufti’s focus on the Kashmir Valley at the cost of other regions where the party had garnered electoral support. This was only to be expected owing to the more or less fractured mandate secured after the state polls. The BJP wanted to consolidate its position in Jammu and Kashmir by ingratiating itself to voters there and branching out further but Mufti’s policies prevented that from happening since 2015.

Militancy and radicalisation of youth has grown in the Kashmir Valley under Mufti, making the outgoing chief minister a magnet for criticism. To expect another outcome from Mufti or any other political outfit in the Valley would be unwise. To her dredit, the outging chief minister had wanted the centre to extend and not suspend the ceasefire in Kashmir Valley as announced by the BJP at the centre.

It is also hard to ignore the impact of the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua on the fate of the BJP-PDP alliance. Both parties had divergent thoughts about investigating and resolving the case. The Kathua rape served as a reminder to the BJP that it was losing ground in the region. Not the kind of news that a party promising a Kashmir solution would like to hear.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2018.

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