In a series of meetings held recently on internal security chaired by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, everyone seemed to agree that the situation in Kashmir is deteriorating by the day. Just two days earlier, Rajnath Singh had expressed his frustration when he demanded to know what was so difficult about identifying and arresting stone-pelters in order to avoid the continuing unrest on Srinagar’s streets.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in New Delhi. Image courtesy PIBJammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in New Delhi. Image courtesy PIB
The protests have been leading to clashes between citizens and security forces leading death and blinding of dozens of youth, in turn stoking more anger, more clashes and more casualties. The unrest has now continued unabated for more than 40 days and the state government has been felt more by its silence and absence.
Those attended the meeting nodded in agreement but did not have an answer to the rhetorical question asked by Singh. It was an extraordinary meeting attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, home secretary, secretary Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Director Intelligence Bureau (DIB) and officials responsible for coordinating and collating the data. But there seemed a grudging recognition of the fact that Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is too mild-mannered to cope with the “muscular approach” of the the Central government.
Does it mean that the Jammu and Kashmir is heading towards another stint of President’s Rule? If the straws in the winds are any indication, the Union government is in the mood for taking a direct control of the situation in the valley in consonance with its rather “audacious” (in the words of a top official) shift in its Pakistan policy. If one looks at the manner in which the situation has been unfolding in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reference to Balochistan, Gligit and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) did indicate a method in “perceived madness”.
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The Union government is acutely aware of the fact that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is critical in determining the contours of India’s relations with Pakistan. It is in this context that Mehbooba Mufti’s soft pedaling on stone-pelting is frowned upon by mandarins of North Block (office of the home ministry). Sources in the government say that a heavy deployment of army and Central paramilitary forces is on the cards in the valley to bring the situation under control.