DISAPPEARING FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The seditious allies of UPA


Ms. Mehbooba Mufti, President, Peoples’ Democratic Party of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), recently led in Srinagar a violent crowd of traders and others in a bid to breach the Line Of Control, the de facto international frontier, for crossing over to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-held Kashmir. Kashmir has been engulfed in agitations over an alleged economic blockade of the Valley by Jammu’s Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti. The Samiti is agitating against the reversal of order of allotment of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board in Baltal in Kashmir Valley. The violent demonstrations in the Valley resulted in police firing that claimed two innocent lives.

What is noteworthy in this regard is that there has been no economic blockade of Kashmir. This was proved by the aerial video footage of vehicular movements on Jammu-Srinagar highway telecast by an English language news channel. Even the Home Minister of the Government of India, who is generally considered more sympathetic to the Muslim minority, informed the Prime Minister after his return from the all-parties meet in the state that there was no economic blockade whatsoever.


Ms. Mehbooba is the daughter of a former Central home minister. She also heads a party that until recently jointly ran the government of Jammu and Kashmir and continues to be an ally of the government at the Centre. She, therefore, should have known that, whatever might be the provocation, the state could not have directly carried out trade and commerce with Pakistan without the approval of the national government. By her act, indiscreet as it was, she not only played into the hands of the Pakistani Intelligence-backed separatists, she also needlessly instigated the people of the Valley against their own country spreading calumny and disinformation.


That the father-daughter duo running the PDP is separatist at heart has been suspected for a long time. They have been making weird statements which, inter alia, included the one relating to making Pakistani currency legal tender in the Valley. They did so even when their political outfit was running the J&K government jointly with the Congress. The ongoing agitation fuelled by them about the alleged non-existent economic blockade fully exposes where their sympathies lie.


Strangely, however, PDP continues to be a constituent of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) that runs the Central government. One recalls how before the confidence vote in the Parliament on 22nd July 2008, the UPA government had Ms. Mehbooba flown over to Delhi in a special Indian Air Force aircraft in the effort to muster every single vote in its favour. That the UPA has in its fold the corrupt and the criminal is well known. In its bid to be more inclusive, it seems, it now also includes the seditious and the secessionist.

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