Sunday, November 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Mufti’s image worries pro-Pak forces
M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service

Jammu, November 16
When a police officer, in civil dress, visited a shopping complex in Srinagar recently for purchasing items for domestic use, he was accompanied by his gunmen in a police vehicle. As he came out of a shop a couple of businessmen shouted at him “Khoja (Khwaja Sahib) keep the National Conference vehicle somewhere else.”

Those who watched the scene were not surprised over the way people have become emboldened to take liberties with a police officer. It is so because the dread of the SOG seems to be over for the time being and people believe that in case of any excesses the oppressor would be punished.

This is the impression that has been created by the liberal policies being pursued by the PDP-Congress coalition government.

PDP circles are peeved over the way the BJP leadership in Delhi and in Jammu has expressed fears over the release of some separatists and militants in recent days. Official sources said the government revoked detention in eight cases only and the remaining five or six detained persons were released on bail.

The sources confirmed that a list of 26 detainees had been cleared for release. It is in this connection that the PDP circles do not find any justification in the fears expressed by the BJP leadership over the release of separatists and militants. They said the decision to release the detainees had the written approval of the Intelligence Bureau. The IB is under the direct control of the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, in the capacity of being the Home Minister also. According to the PDP circles, the approval of the IB in the release of separatists means the approval of the Centre.

The Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, has tactfully conveyed to the Centre that he had not taken any unprecedented step because separatist leaders had been detained and released on many occasions in the past. In this connection he has cited the example of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and the late Abdul Gani Lone.

The Mufti is keen to conduct a novel experiment and make a new beginning on wooing the separatists to the mainstream. He may not succeed immediately as is indicated by the belligerent postures adopted by the JKLF chief, Mr Yasin Malik, who has launched, what he calls, a mass contact programme in order to revive the pro-azadi sentiments. His first mass contact programme at Bandipore evoked a good response from the people who attended the rally organised by the JKLF yesterday.

Field reports indicate that Mr Malik and those of his stature may not pose serious problems for the Mufti unless the agencies across the border step up subversive violence in the state. Official reports based on field sources have revealed that the Pak agencies have already directed the rebel groups to strengthen the cadre of their activists for carrying out major armed strikes against the security forces and the civilians.

The pro-Pak and pro-azadi forces, according to official reports, are worried over the rise in the Mufti’s image graph within 15 days of his takeover as the Chief Minister. Indications are that these forces may not allow the Mufti and his team to settle down because the growing support of the people for the new government would mean loss of bases in the state for the separatists.

During the past 15 days, the Mufti has taken in hand several people-friendly measures which include non-implementation of POTA in the state, release of political detainees in phases, reduction of power shedding by four hours, issuance of appointment letters in government departments to 234 victims of militancy on the spot in Baramula district, weeding out 165 non-existent SPOs, sending the SOG back to the barracks and increase in the plan allocations for each district. These measures have started establishing his credibility.

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