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Four years of Central rule in J&K, what next is  not clear as yet

20/06/2022 at 5:55 PM

Arun  Joshi

Jammu and Kashmir scaled a  grim milestone on Monday when it completed four years of the central rule imposed since June 20, 2018 . In real time basis , it means that the erstwhile state and now the UT, is without an elected government for the past four years and the things are uncertain as  no election schedule has been announced till date.  This runs against the spirit of democratizing J&K , where the people  are desperately yearning for an elected government.

From June 20, 2018, a  day after the Mehbooba Mufti government resigned following  BJP’s withdrawal of the support to the coalition government, till this day, it is the second-longest spell of the Central rule in Jammu and Kashmir . Earlier one was for six years and nine months from  January 1990 to  October 1996. These two spells, as of today, account for nearly 11 years of the federal rule in this Himalayan territory , which  by  its geo-strategic location and the violent conflict it has been witnessing now for the past over 32 years , grabs international eyeballs .

In the first case , the federal rule was imposed following flurry of events which only highlighted the crumbling administration and simultaneous rise in anti-India activities and violence. Those were unmistakable signals of the dark times ahead . Then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah who headed National Conference- Congress government  obliged  former Prime Minister Rajiv  Gandhi and agreed to quit the government. The  excuse was   reappointment of Jagmohan as Governor , who had served his first term as head of the  state in J&K from 1984 to 1989 . The idea was to embarrass the VP  Singh government  for it was becoming clearer by the day that things were spinning out of control in Kashmir; full throated “ azadi” slogans  had become anthem  for the change that  Pakistan -inspired militancy wanted.

This political game proved very costly for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Jagmohan  who on his  arrival  on January 19, 1990 ,  after taking the oath as Governor, pronounced himself as “ nursing orderly” who can come to heal the wounds , had to be recalled barely after five months in office . The  CRPF firing on the mourners carrying the body of Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq  had left more than 50 people dead . Rest is history.

In June 2018 , the withdrawal of support by the BJP  had not come as a surprise . There were multiple reasons- . A lot of bad blood characterized the relationship between the two coalition partners PDP of Muftis and BJP ; PDP, particularly then Chief Minister had raised a pitch against the  Centre for what she perceived its moves to tamper with the special status  Mehboob being Mehbooba had used the  podium  on August 15, 2017 , to warn the  Centre against moves to do away with Article 35 A or  Article 370, she had also called for the unity among all the Kashmir-centric parties to resist this plot.  BJP was getting uncomfortable  with this thesis , but more than that it found itself on margins as Mehbooba Mufti did not  entertain the party beyond a point .  The  Agenda of Alliance of the  two parties promising good governance had all but collapsed .  PDP was suffering from internal turmoil , as some of the  ambitious souls in the government were  looking for enhanced role . They were encouraged by  BJP’s leaders , and what helped them the most were adverse reports about the Mehbooba  Mufti  to the Centre .There were elements who were desperate to rule . All these factors  resulted in withdrawal of support to the  Mehbooba Mufti government.

Mehbooba Mufti  committed a cardinal mistake; she did not recommend dissolution  of the legislative Assembly  at the time of sending her resignation to the Raj Bhavan . Other political parties were equally guilty , for they did not feel like going into the elections at that time.  National Conference, the premier political party of Kashmir , and  Congress  as also the PDP declared  their intent to wait for the elections . The suspended animation status of the  Assembly stoked ambitions of the individuals and groups. People’s Conference  chief Sajad  Gani Lone , considered close to BJP’s  point man on Kashmir Ram Madhav , wanted to have a shot as Chief Minister. As the days and weeks passed , PDP, NC and Congress realised that they too had a chance to form the government . They agreed on the name of Altaf Bukhari, who is now APNI Party chief, to be their chief ministerial candidate.  But  “ non-functional “ fax machine at Raj Bhawan in Jammu put paid to their plans. On November 21, the then Governor Satya Pal Malik  dissolved the Assembly. That was end of it.

Now when the delimitation commission has submitted its report , allocating 43 seats to Jammu region , 47 to the  Valley , it was expected that things will move rapidly toward Assembly polls , but it appears that there is more of speculation. The elections by the  year-end  is  proclaimed only as  a  strong possibility. That’s what Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hinted at , during the course of his speech  on the occasion  commemorating  200th year of the coronation of founder of the majestic state of Jammu and Kashmir , on June 17.  Nothing more, nothing less.

About the Author:

Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.


This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with those of prameyanews.com.

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