Editorial: From the Srinagar durbar
The durbar move offices are reopening in Srinagar at a time when the state especially the Valley of Kashmir is oscillating between hope and despair with unpredictability becoming a norm.
This is the third time when the present coalition is shifting back to Srinagar and each time the biennial shifting has been a tougher challenger. In May 2015 when Mufti Muhammad Sayeed was spearheading the toughest coalition in the state, he returned to Srinagar with a baggage of controversies including a staged encounter, release and re-arrest of Masarat Alam, curbs on separatists and brazen vigilantism of Hindu activists, some of the contentious issues he had to deadly with during his first two months in power.
Last year, Mehbooba Mufti had returned to Srinagar with a hope that she would give the ‘developmental agenda’ of her government a firm push during the summer months but the succeeding period proved to be one of the most disastrous time spans Kashmir has ever witnessed.
Following the killing of Burhan Wani, not only did the developmental activities come to a grinding halt, the actual writ and existence of the government reduced to the level of being bubbles on a water surface.
This year around, the situation is not altogether different. Mehbooba Mufti, her council of ministers and bureaucrats with entire official wherewithal is arriving at a time when the Valley is reeling under a perpetual sense of unrest, insecurity and resentment. The student protests triggered by the avoidable ingress of the government forces into the premises of Pulwama Degree College on April 15 are not showing let up.
The militants are striking at will and targeting police and other government forces, pro-India political workers and banks. The south Kashmir region, once the most bankable regions of the ruling party, is topping the list of dangerous zones.
This does not offer a pleasant backdrop for Mehbooba Mufti to begin yet another half- year spell from Srinagar. Last year, after her father’s demise, Mehbooba retrained herself from stepping into his shoes for a period of three months. Her contention was that her father was not treated well by the government in Delhi led by her party’s coalition partner.
She cried hoarse on the sluggish pace of development and almost no progress on addressing the political issues, which were purported to be the hallmark of the alliance. How she later agreed to form the government without any pre-conditions is still a mystery but it can be said without the any of contradiction that the issues she had highlighted before throwing her hat into the ring, remain as unaddressed as they were.
It is a difficult scenario. The Chief Minister seems to be grappling with the situation without anything getting into her favour except the stability of her chair. This may be one of the positives she has in her kitty. In the forthcoming months, if she is able to ensure a modicum of security to the people and a little push to visible development like blacktopping of roads, to say the least, it would be counted as her achievement. She must work on these primary objectives rather than harping on major political developments.