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  • Political leaders on run in South Kashmir

SRINAGAR: It has been over two years, Anantnag Parliament seat is still lying vacant. Not a single political party or any leader is willing to approach people or organize any rally in any part of South Kashmir’s four districts-Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag. Once a bastion of ruling People’s Democratic Party, South Kashmir is now hub of militancy where people mostly youth are showing greater inclination towards militancy. The gunfights, killings, stone-pleting, clashes and protests have almost blocked the entry of politician who fears to tread into Southern parts of Kashmir.

 

Anantnag Assembly seat had fallen vacant with the death of Mufti Muhammad Sayeed in January 2016. His daughter Mehbooba Mufti, who had succeeded him as chief minister, won that election in June. And as mandated by law, she quit her Anantnag Lok Sabha seat. Which meant another bye-election was due. The polling was scheduled on April 12, 2017, three days after the bye-election to the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat. But due to protests, killings and lower turn out in Srinagar, the Election Commission cancelled the bye-poll and till date the Commission as well as regional political parties are silent over the issue.

 

Big political stalwarts from South Kashmir including Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami, Haseeb Drabu, Farooq Andrabi, Abdul Rahim Rather, Abdul Rehman Veeri, Zahoor Mir, Ajaz Mir, Mushtaq Shah, Muhammad Yousuf Bhat, Muhammad Khalil Bandh, Abdul Majeed Paddar, and Abdul Majid Larmi are allegedly all in hibernation waiting for situation to change.  “How situation will change when government is not addressing the unrest politically,” questions senior legislator from Kulgam Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami. He adds: “There is no response from the current government to the demands of people. The unrest is stopping political parties and leaders to approach people and organize rallies. This government has been doing nothing on political front,” Tarigami asserts.

 

Barring a few political meetings inside fortified rooms, no political leader in South Kashmir has organized any rally or road show since July 8, 2016-the day when charismatic Hizb Commander Burhan Wani was killed in Bimbdora village of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district. Post Burhan episode, there were incidents when the houses of some political leaders were attacked. Recently, a petrol bomb was hurled on the house of PDP legislator from Shopian, Advocate Muhammad Yousuf Bhat. Bhat refused to comment when asked why he is unable to hold political rallies in his home constituency.   

 

National Conference legislator from Home Shalibugh assembly segment, Abdul Majid Larmi says that everywhere, mainstream political leaders are on the run. Larmi blames Government of India directly for fiasco. “Since 1953, Government of India has been cheating and deceiving people of Kashmir. History is testimony to this fact that Government of India arrested Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in 1953 and gradually eroded our autonomy. There will no peace till India resolves the Kashmir issue as per the aspirations of people of Valley,” Larmi said adding that no political leader has the guts now to face people.

Ruling PDP legislator from Tral blames both GoI and regional parties for the present Kashmir imbroglio. “Leave aside organizing political rallies, we are not even able to contact people. There is so much hatred and anger against mainstream politicians. Killings have become a norm. Damaging houses and vehicles, thrashing people and arresting youth are the order of day,” Shah said.

He suggested that the heads of political parties including PDP, National Conference and Congress should join hands and meet Prime Minister and policy makers of India. “Development and jobs are not going to change the ground reality,” he added. Abdul Majeed Paddar, another PDP legislator from Noorabad constituency however, claimed that he addresses political rallies on daily basis. “Today I organized a medical camp at DK Marg. Yesterday; I inaugurated a workshop at Sarmarg. I don’t know about other legislators but I am in touch with people,” Paddar said.