The recent spate of encounters of militant commanders and the crackdown on the separatists in Kashmir are nothing but the Central agencies’ way of manifesting their strong disapproval of the Jammu & Kashmir government’s “secret peace deal”, under which some PDP lawmakers were allegedly opening channels of communication with the separatists and the militants, top sources in the People’s Democratic Party told The Sunday Guardian.
Some ministers allegedly opened “secret channels” with both Hurriyat leaders and militant commanders when the government “durbar” moved from Jammu to summer capital Srinagar in May. Determined to broker peace, a senior minister went to Pulwama to explore the possibility of establishing contact with militant commanders active in South Kashmir. Reports said that the minister, along with a ruling party MLA from the valley, were able to establish lines of communication with South Kashmir’s militant commanders, but before a deal could fructify, the Central agencies got an inkling of it and decided to go for an “all out” operation to nip the CM’s plan in the bud.
The Army moved more reinforcements to Shopian, Kulgam and Pulwama in order to conduct anti-militancy operations, leading to the killing of those who were allegedly roped in by the PDP for brokering the “deal”.
The first one to get killed was Bashir Ahmad. Ahmad was a resident of Kasabayar Rajpora, and it was at his residence a series of meetings were held, outlining the “deal”.
The security grid, which had received inputs from the Central intelligence agencies, had decided to arrest the PDP MLA, but stopped short of that, arresting his driver instead. The driver is being interrogated to ascertain how deep are the PDP leaders’ connections with the militants.
CM Mehbooba felt dejected by the attitude of the Central agencies. According to PDP insiders, J&K’s DGP S.P. Vaid had even announced the broader contours of the deal when he said that the police would go for the counselling of youths who had joined militancy. Mehbooba Mufti had plans to reach out to the Hurriyat leaders, promising them that the Centre would soon open a dialogue with them. But it fell apart as the Centre made announcements to the contrary, while deciding to book the separatist leaders in different cases and probe all the money channels surrounding them.
CM Mehbooba was further snubbed when the NIA arrested seven separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Funtosh.
According to senior police officers, they were told by CM Mehbooba not to allow the NIA to take the separatist leaders out of J&K. But at the Srinagar airport, the police officers, who were pleading with the NIA to complete the formalities before they flew out with the separatists, were told that they had instructions to arrest them if they obstructed the NIA.
The differences between the PDP and the BJP exhibited itself again when Mehbooba’s request for opening more trade routes with the other side of Kashmir across the LoC drew a curt response from the Centre, which said it was seriously mulling to close the existing Uri-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalkote trade routes on the recommendations of the NIA. Sources said that deep down the PDP is feeling that its public base in South Kashmir has been eroded by the hard policy of the Centre.