Following her meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is likely to order arrests on a mass scale, especially in south Kashmir, to quell the ongoing protests in the valley. Singh is believed to have advised CM Mehbooba against any soft treatment of those whom the security forces and the intelligence agencies have identified for engineering stone pelting incidents and other violence.
Central intelligence agencies and the CID wing of Jammu and Kashmir police have already prepared the lists of persons who are the brains behind the present unrest. They are waiting for a nod from the J&K CM to arrest these few hundred trouble makers to ease the situation on ground.
Reports said that Rajnath Singh has conveyed to Mehbooba Mufti that she should start the process of arrests to at least secure the highway between Jammu and Kashmir, along with other roads.
The development comes at a time when insiders in CM Mehbooba’s People’s Democratic Party are claiming that all is not well with the PDP’s alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party. CM Mehbooba is apparently under pressure from her party colleagues—who fear the party will be eroded in the rural areas due to the current turmoil— to “extract tangible forward movement on the agenda of alliance”.
The party’s south Kashmir wing has apparently threatened to resign en masse if she fails to persuade the Centre to talk to the separatists.
The frustration within the PDP leadership regarding the continuation of the alliance with the BJP was articulated by PDP MP Muzaffar Hussain Beigh when he told a television channel that they would prefer to walk out of the alliance if BJP did not implement the political aspect of the agenda of alliance agreed on by the two parties.
He said that the PDP had got discredited by aligning with BJP and the current unrest was a manifestation of this. Singh, however, played down reports of differences between the two coalition partners and praised Mehbooba Mufti for her handling of the situation.
Meanwhile, a senior PDP leader told this newspaper that “Mehboobaji, during her meeting with Union Home Minister Singh, in Srinagar expressed her reservations about the present policy of the BJP not to engage with the separatists. She conveyed that she is being politically consumed in the Kashmir valley for siding with the BJP.”
Party insiders said that the proposed arrests on a mass scale will further shrink the base of the PDP in entire Kashmir, especially in south Kashmir and might also invite resignation from prominent leaders of the ruling party.
Opposition parties have, on the other hand, accused Mehbooba Mufti of being combative rather than reconciliatory. There are reports that one of the options which the Central government is coining is to withdraw support to the Mehbooba Mufti government in order to bring normalcy back on the streets of Kashmir. But the state BJP leaders told this newspaper that these reports were rumors and the PDP-BJP coalition government would continue to work for the development of J&K despite all odds.