Srinagar: On Sunday, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah said that youth in the region are ready to pick up arms due to alienation owing to the misrule by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government.
The National Conference (NC) leader lashed out at the government, stating that the areas which had become militancy free in the past years are witnessing a spike in militancy despite promises made by the government to end it.
“These are not militants infiltrating from outside but local youth of Kashmir who are picking up the arms and are ready to join militant ranks due to different reasons including the anger and other reasons,” Abdullah said.
Abdullah was addressing a public gathering in the Doda area of Chenab valley where he is on an eight-day tour along with his other senior colleagues from the party, including party general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar, Sajjad Kitchloo and Tanvir Sadiq. This is his first such outreach to the people of Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar districts of the Jammu province since the abrogation of Article 370 was carried out on August 5, 2019.
Earlier, during his visit, the NC vice-president also visited the home of Amir Magrey, one of three victims of the Hyderpora operation in which three civilians were killed. Amir was termed a militant by the Jammu and Kashmir police, a claim that his family contested.
During his address, Abdullah stated that when he was the chief minister of the erstwhile state of J&K, his government had removed most military bunkers from the Srinagar city, but these bunkers are back now.
“We were so confident about the situation that we were discussing the removal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from these areas because, in these areas, there was no sign of militancy. Today there is no corner in Srinagar where people feel secure. The situation in the rest of the valley is even worse,” he said.
Abdullah’s visit to Chenab valley is seen by many as a part of the revival of mainstream politics ahead of the Assembly elections that many believe are likely to happen in 2022. His remarks about the militancy come at the time of a spike of militancy-related incidents in Kashmir, which witnessed over 50 killings since October, including 15 civilians. The situation in Jammu and Kashmir continues to remain tense, with the authorities increasing measures to curb the escalation of violence.
However, the heightened security measures have also increased fear and uncertainty amongst the locals, who believe that the authorities use excessive force and carry out arbitrary detentions to curb genuine dissent.
Abdullah also pointed out that from Kupwara in North Kashmir to the Jawahar tunnel in the South, all the areas are witnessing a rise in militancy. “One of the militants killed recently in Srinagar had joined it after 2019, and we were told that after the August 5 decision, there would be a decrease in such cases, but it turned out to be a lie,” he said while lashing out at the BJP-led government.
Questioning the government’s decisions, Abdullah also claimed that there are no employment opportunities for people in the region. “After the repeal of Article 370, it was said that Ambani, Tata & Birla would bring investment in J&K & that a lot of employment opportunities will be created. Nothing happened. Locals are not getting employment in even ongoing projects,” he added.