Srinagar: Former chief minister and National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah on Friday said that increase in flight operations and a good tourist season do not indicate 'normalcy' in the Jammu and Kashmir. The government's claim of a peaceful situation, Omar said, is misleading.
Omar refuted government claims that there are no stone-pelting incidents happening in the valley, indicating the return of normalcy. Omar lashed out at the BJP led government that the NC government had also thwarted stone-pelting at times during their rule. “But if they see normalcy in the situation where government officials are falling to bullets behind their work desk and policemen are being targeted at their homes then I rest my case,” he said.
Omar shared his concerns amidst heightened tension in the Kashmir valley, where suspected militants have targeted many civilians. There have been several attacks, including a recent one on a wine shop in North Kashmir in which one employee was killed and three others sustained injuries. The Kashmiri Hindu minority is reeling under fear after one of the members, the government employee Omar was referring to, was killed in office in central Kashmir's Budgam district, triggering panic in the community.
Omar added that flights and tourism are not normal when people feel safe and there is no fear as Kashmiri Pandits are leaving Kashmir in fear. He said that the Kashmiri Pandits were ready to leave their jobs behind and met with the People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) for help.
“The PAGD leaders had to seek a meeting with the Lt Governor to ensure they do not leave the valley. How can we call it normalcy,” he said.
The National Conference leader said that, in reality, the situation in Kashmir is not conducive and is, in fact, "worsening.”
The NC vice-president, who arrived in Jammu today after his visit to areas of Pir Panjal valley, argued that if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government believes that the situation is peaceful, they should hold elections in the UT.
“They should admit that the situation is worse than in 1996 and not hold the elections then as there were times between 1990 and 1996 when we had no elections, both assembly and parliamentary elections. If they admit the situation is worse than that, then I will have no objections,” Omar said.
Omar also pointed out the killing of innocent people in "crossfire". We were told Article 370 was the reason for the separatist mentality. Over two and a half years have passed, and the situation is yet to improve. Militancy has revived in areas like Srinagar and parts of north Kashmir, where we eradicated it," Abdullah said in Jammu.
The senior politician, who was spoking on the sidelines of a party function, also called for respecting the sentiments of the people in view of a resolution passed by Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) to ban the use of loudspeakers at religious places. Omar said there is a need to find a middle ground to resolve the issue of “noise” from the loudspeakers used at religious places.