Jammu and Kashmir police’s top brass has cautioned the Centre that raking up thorny issues in the political arena of the sensitive border State may pose a serious threat to peace and could push it into a 2008 Amarnath land row like situation.
Reliable sources said that senior police officers from the State recently briefed the Union Home Ministry officials that tensions are brewing up in the State particularly the Valley over planned separate residential colonies for Kashmiri Pandits and former Army personnel and their families. They have also cautioned that if contentious and sensitive issues are not tackled with utmost competence and care, a serious law and order situation may occur in the State.
“They have been urged to ensure wisdom and restraint are exercised by all those who matter and no such step is taken directly or through the State administration that may provide a basis for separatists and other vested interests’ to incite people to come out on the streets and seek to settle the issues through agitation and violence,” said a senior police officer who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity.
The sources said that apart from J&K’s police’s top brass, officers of some of the State and Central intelligence agencies too have in their dossiers appraised the Centre of the ‘worrying ground situation’ and ‘potential threat to peace’. Various separatist leaders and parties including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Muhammad Yasin Malik have publicly threatened that a mass agitation will be launched if the PDP-BJP government in the state goes ahead with the plan to set up separate clusters for displaced Kashmiri Pandits at various locations in the Valley and a Sainik colony on outskirts of summer capital Srinagar.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti told the State Assembly in its budget session last week that the transit accommodations that her government had planned to set up in the Valley would not be exclusively meant for Kashmiri Pandits and that fifty percent of it would be reserved for people of other faiths.
She also said that although the Sainik Colony was proposed to be established only for the state subject ex-servicemen, because of the non-availability of land there has been no movement forward on the issue. “But we have categorically told them that there is no land available at present,” she said. Her assertions failed to impress separatists. Also, the BJP quickly contradicted the Chief Minister saying her coalition partner is committed to setting up a Sainik colony in Srinagar.
While both mainstream opposition parties including National Conference (NC) and separatists accused the Chief Minister of trying to mislead the people on the issue, the latter warned that a state-wide agitation will be launched if the government goes ahead with either proposition.
Sources said that the issues and brewing tensions over these came up for discussion between Mufti and BJP national general secretary, Ram Madhav, here last week. Sources in the PDP had said that following their one-on-one meeting, the BJP acknowledged her concerns and agreed to stick to ‘coalition dharma’. The PDP leadership, sources has conveyed to its coalition partner that any attempt to rake up contentious and sensitive issues in public domain particularly those which have the potential of disturbing the political psyche of the State’s majority community at this stage would only make the Chief Minister’s task more difficult. The J&K police higher-ups and those at various intelligence agencies have only endorsed the view.