Rise in youth picking gun post-2014, once PDP bartered mandate for power: Omar Abdullah

National Conference Vice President Omar Abdullah on Thursday said the current grave situation of alienation and hopelessness was a gift of the failed PDP-BJP Government in the State and PDP’s rank opportunism that had pushed the State into the throes of instability, misery and turmoil. Addressing a party workers’ convention at Baramulla on Thursday, Omar Abdullah said the prolonged delay by the Central and the State Government in taking a political initiative despite repeated red flags and deterioration of the situation in Kashmir was unfortunate and had eroded the dividends of a hard-earned peace and stability that had been achieved in the State.

“Why are educated young men choosing the gun over their dreams of employment and a successful, bright future? Doctoral scholars and professors are picking up the gun while the rhetoric of the incumbent Government defies ground reality. This is a trend that started after 2014 once PDP bartered its mandate to come to power. The consequences of PDP’s U-turn and betrayal are being borne by the youth of this State who have been left disillusioned and isolated from the system. We worked very hard during our tenure in power to wean away the youth from alienation and militancy and channelize their talent towards entrepreneurship, industry and employment generation. Unfortunately the current ruling dispensation has left no stone unturned to waste those dividends of peace and stability and has pushed the youth of the State into a corner”, the NC Vice President said while addressing the convention.

“There are people who ask us why a ceasefire wasn’t announced during our previous Government that preceded the present PDP-BJP Government. The fact of the matter is that there was almost no militancy in the State at that time – local boys were not picking up the gun and joining militant ranks. Today you have dozens of innocent civilians who have been killed around encounter sites, grenade attacks have become a norm and the people are reeling under a sense of anxiety that is both palpable and unprecedented. The ceasefire initiative which we demanded and supported should have come much earlier and we have been demanding a political initiative since 2016. In 2016, I led a delegation of opposition leaders from across the board to Delhi where we knocked at the doors of the President, the Prime Minister and Senior Opposition leaders. We didn’t seek the dismissal of this government but relief for the people of the State so that the bloodshed could stop and we wouldn’t have to lose more precious lives. Sadly both the Central Government and the State Government didn’t act in 2016 and 2017 and the repercussions of that inaction are here for all of us to see”, Omar Abdullah said.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a strong mandate in the Parliament to act. He had the power and the leverage to take a bold initiative on Kashmir as unlike past Prime Ministers, he wasn’t as constrained by compulsions. Unfortunately four years have been wasted and no breakthrough has been achieved. While the Ramzan ceasefire was a welcome move, one needs to wonder what happens after Ramzan ends? In the absence of a follow-up initiative that take the ground realities into account – we will yet again fail to rise to the occasion in acknowledging the slide in Kashmir and our responsibility to stem it”, the National Conference Vice President added.

“One of the starkest indictments of the present dispensation is the failure to conduct the Anantnag Lok Sabha election. Since 1996, this is the longest delay in conducting an election to a vacant seat in the State. And this was seat vacated by the Chief Minister herself. If the Chief Minister cant ensure the conduct of a by-election to a seat she herself held, one can only express alarm and shock at the state of affairs”, the NC Vice President further said.

The National Conference Vice President said that realising the gravity of the situation Natioanl Conference participated in the all party meeting and expressed unconditional support to all such political initiatives that would bring a relief to the people. “PDP wants us to come to Delhi with them although had I been the Chief Minister and had National Conference been in power – PDP would have invested all its efforts in stoking the fire and seeking power. But we aren’t PDP, we are ready to support all such initiatives as for us the grave situation in Kashmir is beyond power and elections. National Conference realises how the people stand crushed and disempowered and we will do everything possible to save the State and work towards ushering it into an era of sustainable peace but the Government has to show sincerity of purpose. We are waiting for this initiative where we could ask the Prime Minsiter – what after the Ramzan ceasefire? What happened to the promises of talks with stakeholders and externally with Pakistan made in the now abandoned ‘Agenda of the Alliance’?”, Omar Abdullah stated.

“There is ambiguity and confusion over the apparent offer of talks with the Hurriyat Conference. Various Central Ministers have portrayed the offer in various different ways. The MoS PMO has said militancy is in its last stages in Kashmir despite the insurmountable evidence to indicate that we are in an alarming state of renewed militancy. How can the Central Government expect the Hurriyat to come forward and talk when the Central Government itself can’t speak in one voice on such a crucial issue? There should be clarity so that some forward movement can be achieved”, Omar Abdullah said.

“The situation in Jammu is equally worrisome. We are losing precious lives in cross LoS and cross border shelling. When we advocate talks with Pakistan we are labelled as ‘anti-national’ by those people whose lives aren’t affected by hostility along our borders. If seeking peace and relief for border dwellers is ‘anti-national’, then I am an ‘anti-national’. Jammu and Kashmir is the worst victim of hostilities between India and Pakistan we are the ones who bear the consequences of animosity. We will continue to advocate for talks with Pakistan for the interests of our State and its people”, the NC Vice President added.

The Workers’ Convention was also addressed by Senior Party Leaders including NC Provincial President Nasir Aslam Wani, Zonal President North Advocate Muhammad Akbar Lone, District President Baramulla Javed Ahmed Dar and those in attendance also included Political Secretary to Vice President, Tanvir Sadiq, Party Leader Ghulam Hassan Rahi and various members of the party’s parent and youth wing. (KNS)

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