Carrot-n-stick policy in place for Panchayat polls
Govt To Showcase Its Grip On Situation; Opposition Not Impressed
Srinagar, Mar 18: The state government is pursuing the policy of iron-fist velvet-glove in Kashmir to tide over the separatist sentiment and pave way for the peaceful conduct of the coming panchayat elections in the state.
Informed sources in the government said that the Omar Abdullah dispensation was keen on ensuring peaceful polls to send a strong message both to the separatists as well as New Delhi. They said there were enough detractors of the government at the Center who were suspicious of Omar Abdullah’s ability to handle Kashmir. To prove them wrong, the government is taking the panchayat polls as an opportunity to showcase its grip on the situation.
“To the separatists, this government wants to tell that it has managed to gain the lost ground after the ragda of 2010,” the sources said. The renewed interest of the police stations across Kashmir in the cases of 2010 disturbance and the arrest and booking of youth must be seen in this light, analysts say.
Sources say that the top most priority of the government at present is the conduct of panchayat elections in a peaceful manner. The removal of bunkers from Srinagar and the sweet talk of the interlocutors on the opening of traditional Kashmir routes is seen part of this strategy. But the Leader of Opposition Mehbooba Mufti is not impressed.
“It is an enigma what they are doing. You can’t enforce peace through the barrel of gun as is happening in Kashmir. Here a Director General of Police makes a statement that he will ensure peace. Peace has to be maintained, not enforced. It has been the mindset of National Conference to approach issues by unleashing terror. One really fails to understand what the state government is up to, they don’t believe in what they say and they don’t say what they believe in,” she told Greater Kashmir.
On the removal of bunkers, she said, “It’s not a new thing, it was started long back and the process in continuing.
The massive arrests of youth, lower rung activists of Hurriyat Conference (G) and even of relatively passive leaders like Mushtaq-ul-Islam and Shakeel Bakshi, analysts say, is aimed at sending a signal to all that the government won’t tolerate even an iota of anti-establishment voice. The removal of bunkers, rhetoric on controversial laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Disturbed Area Act is seen as a balancing act and to keep the public at large in ‘good humour’ in a bid to encourage them to the polling stations.
Though the elections to the Panchayats would be largely fought on local issues like bijli, sadak and paani, the political rhetoric would play its part given the sensitive nature of the situation and the keen interest aam aadmi shows in Kashmir politics.
Analysts feel that the carrot and stick policy of the government had something to do with the last summer’s happenings and the recent developments in the Middle East.
“By measures like removal of bunkers, the government wants to convey to the people that it was taking some steps in reaction to the movement of 2010. And by the arrests, it wants to pre-empt the recurrence of the agitation particularly in the light of popular agitations in the Arab world,” says Dr. Sheikh Showkat Hussain, who teaches Law at the University of Kashmir.
But, analysts say, the path the state government is treading may be case of sailing in two boats. The dichotomy of the state government’s policy on, for example, questionable laws is a case in point, observed an analyst. “On one hand, the state government is continuing its people-friendly noises on central laws like AFSPA and DAA, sometimes even to the extent of taking on the Defence Ministry, but on the other it is continuing the unbridled use of equally controversial state law like Public Safety Act against dissidents,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 18 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 19 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
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