What’s Amit Shah up to in Kashmir?

Whatever it is, no good is going to come of it, feel leaders in Kashmir amidst intense speculation that the state is inexorably heading towards Governor’s Rule

Photo by Nitin Kanotra/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Nitin Kanotra/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Bhasha Singh

Amidst speculation that Bharatiya Janata Party is preparing to pull out of the PDP-BJP coalition Government in Jammu & Kashmir, the Union Home ministry informed the Rajya Sabha that 117 Kashmiri militants have been killed by security forces this year till August 2. Security forces had claimed to have killed 150 militants last year.

This, however, does not appear to have had any impact on attacks by terrorists in the state. Indeed, official statistics put the number of attacks by militants at 184 this year till July as compared to 322 such cases recorded in 2016.

Voicing concern at the worsening situation, editor of Kashmir Times, Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, says that by shutting the doors on dialogue, placing leaders under detention and killing militants and civilians alike have given rise to a dangerous drift. The growing frustration among teenagers and youth, she believes, is prompting them to take up arms.

The signal from New Delhi is clear, she says. The Centre is not interested in any dialogue or talk. The state Government’s credibility is at rock bottom. The hardline stand of security agencies is also provoking militancy and it suits the BJP’s plans, she adds.

Kashmir, however, is not Bihar, warns senior PDP leader Nizamuddin Bhat. Amit Shah, he goes on to add, should not dream of staging an overnight coup as in Bihar. BJP, he felt, had no option but to continue with the alliance. Asked if PDP is aware of the view within the BJP that Ladakh and Jammu should be separated from the Valley, Bhat says it would not be a wise step because then India would have to deal with a ‘mini Pakistan’ within the country.

Kashmir, he held, has always had harmonious relations between Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. The agenda to drive a wedge between the different communities, he felt, would not be able to sustain peace.

Observers, however, concede that Amit Shah, Ram Madhav and the National security Advisor Ajit Kumar Doval are on the same page as the Prime Minister on Kashmir. They are clearly trying to expand the footprints of the BJP in the Valley, change the demographic of the Valley to the extent possible while dealing ruthlessly with dissent. It is as part of this strategy that the RSS held a meeting in Jammu and Amit Shah announced a plan to extend BJP’s outreach to Muslims and select 30 young and educated Muslims to help expand BJP’s footprints.

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