Prof Javed Mughal sums up the sweet and sour memories of the Year 2015 in the words of Haruki Murakami, “Unfortunately, the clock is ticking; the hours are going by, the past increases; the future recedes; possibilities decreasing and regrets mounting.”
It proved to be a landmark year for politics of Jammu and Kashmir as BJP strode to power in the state for the first time stitching a coalition with PDP after assembly elections last year threw up a hung house.
PDP founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was sworn in as the chief minister of the state for the second time on March 1. He became only the third person to be sworn in for a second time after Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq and Farooq Abdullah — the latter having had three terms.
However, there was plenty of drama before PDP and BJP — described by Sayeed as coming together of North and South Poles — finalised the alliance in March.
On war path : AIIMS Coordination Committee seeking AIIMS in Jammu.
It took more than two months of hectic negotiations, from December last year to end of February, between the two parties to come to a common minimum programme, officially christened ‘Agenda of Alliance’.
Besides its usual planks of self rule, revocation of the AFSPA and return of power projects to the state, the PDP leadership in its election campaign had focused on stopping BJP from coming to power in the only Muslim-majority state of the country.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the BJP charge, the party, instead of focusing on Congress, chose to hit out at the ‘dynastic politics’ in PDP and National Conference. The alliance has not gone down well in the Kashmir Valley, the predominant support base of the PDP, with some of its senior leaders calling it a blunder to ally with BJP.
In the post-alliance scenario, Sayeed used every opportunity throughout the year to defend his joining hands with BJP on the grounds that it was a “historic opportunity” to end the regional discord in the state. Of-course, it sent across a ray of hope to the Jammuites and above all it dismantled a long standing notion of the people that the BJP can never come to power in Jammu and Kashmir.
Although former militants have been elected as MLAs and one of them went on to become a minister in the past, the year also saw former separatist leader Sajjad Gani Lone taking oath as a minister in the state government. This was a first in the 25 years of turmoil in the state.
The Jammu Division arrested the total attention media and the Govt for a quite some on account of setting in motion a strong agitation for the establishment of AIIMS in Jammu at par with the one in Kashmir.
The agitation dominated the political scene of Jammu and Kashmir and posed a temporal threat to fabric of the Govt. as well but the things were taken into control by assuring the Jammuites that their interests will be taken care of. The coordination committee, comprising political, social, religious and trade organizations, organized two complete shutdowns against the shifting of AIIMS to Valley and succeeded atleast in inviting the favorable statements of Rajnath Singh, Sushma Suwraj and a bunch of other leaders of Mufti-BJP government.
Another issue which dominated the political landscape was related to beef ban following a direction to police by the high court in Jammu to strictly implement a pre-Independence law on cow slaughter. The issue resonated in the Legislative Assembly for most of the autumn session. The issue turned ugly when at least three BJP MLAs pounced on an Independent MLA from Kashmir for allegedly hosting a beef party inside MLA hostel at the peak of tensions.
The state chose to approach the Supreme Court on the issue but the apex court directed the high court to deal with it. A full bench of the high court, while setting aside the conflicting orders of its two benches, put the ball into government’s court asking it to address the issue. Even as the issue was being dealt in the court, three Kashmiris travelling in a truck were attacked by a mob with a petrol bomb at Udhampur in Jammu region on October 9. One of the three persons died due to burn injuries 10 days later.
The death of the youth led to protests in the Valley, forcing the authorities to impose curfew-like restrictions for few days to maintain law and order.
Border Blues : Border people bearing the brunt of cross boder firing.
As usual the question of resettlement of KPs was again raised this year may be as an eye wash but this step of the Govt was not appreciated by almost all political and separtist parties.
Modi addressed the public rally and announced a mega reconstruction package of Rs 80,000 crore for Jammu and Kashmir but ally PDP was left red-faced as he did not touch on much-anticipated dialogue process either with Pakistan or the separatists in the state.
The issues and problems of the flood victims of Kashmiris and the Jammuites are still pending but the announcement and release of an epoch-making financial package to the tune of 8000 crores for the redressal of the grievances of the flood victims in the Valley. Although it sent across a sigh of relief to the victims but it has yet to be implemented on the ground. The political critics take this package as another political gimmick to remain in power in Jammu and Kashmir while blunting the edge of PDP for the next elections.
The Government announced relief package for 1947 PoK and 1971 refugees, but it had nothing for West Pakistan refugees who have been left fretting and fuming.
On the separatist front, secessionist groups got a new lease of life as they occupied the centre-stage of the India-Pakistan relations in the month of August.
The Pakistani establishment continued to send militant in this part of the state. The militants carried a deadly attack on a BSF convoy, during which one militant was caught alive. It proved to be a big catch for security forces and indicated the involvementof Pakistan Government in it.
Big Catch : A millitant captured by police personnel.
The security forces had many successes against the militants in the Valley, killing 64 of them including some top commanders during the year.
However, the security forces also suffered some major losses including an officer of elite commando force Colonel Santosh Mahadik.
In the meantime, the Mobile Companies were threatened by the terrorists not to install any militancy sensitive device or technology in the valley and the one such device commissioned by the Airtel India was pinched away by the terrorists. It shows that the militancy once again is gaining its ground in the valley with the latest and revised techniques and strategies.
Technological Marval : Basholi bridge which is expected to accelerate developmental process in the region. Excelsior/Rakesh Bakshi
All efforts were carried out all along the year to keep the people in good humour. Somewhere in the month of February an event Jammu Walkathon on Beti Bachao Beti Padhao was conducted in Jammu wherein a big number of people participated and through this Walkathon a general and significant message of deep concern for the daughter was got across to the people. But at the same time a similar Marathon was held in Srinagar which turned out into a highly shameful incident where some women participants were molested during the race. The marathon could not be completed and instead many people were arrested and the message which was to be conveyed proved a baseless exercise.
Strengthening bonds : Prime Minister Narendra Modi shaking hands with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Muhammmad Sayeed during a mammoth public rally in Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium in Srinagar.
In Ladakh division, the LAHDC, Leh led by Congress party was replaced by BJP-PDP led coalition. The BJP party for the first time assumed power in this part of the region.
On developmental front, Jammu Division, got a new bridge, when North India’s first Cable bridge was inaugurated by the Defence Minister of India, Manohar Parrikar at Basholi.
After long wait, Jammu finally got a separate Railway Division in Jammu. This is surely going to change development scenario in the State.
Public Appearance : Jammu and Kashmir National Conference party President and former Union Minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah visit Lal Chowk interacts with kashmiri kashmiri people at Residency Road after the returned from London.
It was a proud moment for Jammu and Kashmir when son-of-the soil T S Thakur was sworn in as the Chief Justice of India.
TS Thakur sworn-in as the Chief Justice of India.
The former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah who had gone to London for treatment remaind out of political business for a pretty longtime. He made a comeback on political stage by visiting flood hits areas in Srinagar and making some controversial statements.
Tribute : Soliders paying tributes to martyr Col Santosh Mahadik.
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah said that a porous border between the Kashmir and PoK is the only lasting solution for the Kashmir problem. Abdullah said this way the footprint of troops across the border will be reduced. This however will not go down well with people whose livelihood (dukan) depends on keeping the trouble brewing in Kashmir.
Assembly disorder: Principal opposition party National Conference leader and legislator Omar Abdullah speaking in Lower House of Assembly after assault on Independent Lawmaker Engineer Abdul Rashid by BJP legislators inside the House.
As usual the preceding year again stands dotted with the heart-rending firing incidents, terrorist attack and many other uneven incidents resulting into the massive scale displacement of the masses along border lines, deaths of innocents and so on. This has become a stereo-typed spectacle now where almost every month of every year, rather every day of every month during the last over two decades and half is smeared with the innocent blood, cries and sighs of the helpless people across the state. Terrorist attacks, seizures of ammunition, killings of innocents and the security personnel, shutter-downs in Kashmir, defence meetings and discussion without any fruitful results.
Militant Mayhem: A vehicle was damaged after militants fired a rifle grenade towards an Airtel tower at Habba Kadal in old Srinagar city.
Excelsior/Mohd Amin War