The BJP in Jammu and Kashmir, and in Delhi must understand the game plan of coalition partner PDP led by Mufti which has been consistently ceding space to the separatists, insurgents, and hard liners in Kashmir much to the chagrin of it’s partner. As soon as Mufti won the election, he started giving credit to all those who had done little in making the elections a great success. In fact the new CM preferred to give credit to the fringe elements in Kashmir rather than to the people who voted for change, and in large numbers.
However, giving credit is one thing but the major problem for the BJP now is that this discredited fringe is now being allowed to set the agenda of the government. This has become possible because the CM is clearly very soft to the hardliners, and one must recall that he was the chief architect of the healing touch policy for the militants. Those who have watched the politics in Kashmir Valley tell that Mufti is clearly pandering to his vote bank by being soft to separatists as it ensured that party is able to win elections in south Kashmir where Jamaat e Islami has a very stronghold over the population. During this election also PDP has done well in Pulwama and Shopian, and interestingly the tactic has been learnt from the National Conference which also pandered to the separatist agenda to win votes.
It is a fact that it was under Mufti as Home minister of India that security forces had launched massive crackdowns in Kashmir but surprisingly the PDP leader has evaded the consequences. Mufti has been so smart in evading scrutiny on that count that he has been portrayed as someone who identifies with the woes of the separatist constituency of the state. The winding up of SOG, and healing touch policy were few decisions which helped him win the separatist camp. It is a fact that Jamaat has come around this time, and lent support to the PDP in South Kashmir which ensured the defeat of the NC. Earlier the separatists have boycotted polls, and this has helped the NC.
Critics argue that this time Mufti plans to reach out to the separatists in other parts of the Valley, and that includes the Srinagar city, and some other towns where leaders like Masarat Alam, Yaseen Malik, and Geelani rule the roost. The release of Alam was part of this plan only but the strong show put up by Alam, and Geelani which amounted to sedition has not gone down well for the PDP, and other stakeholders in the state. The raising of the pro-Pakistan flag, and anti-India slogan shocked the BJP and the government had to order the arrest of Alam. The arrest of Alam led to protests, and also the first killing during a protest in the last four years. The consternation in BJP, and in government in Delhi is that Mufti as the home minister had infused the much needed blood needed to boost a fledgling militancy when he released five hard core terrorists in lieu of his daughter in nineties. Thereafter PDP was responsible for the fall of the Azad government over Amarnath shrine land issue which led to one of the worst communal and regional strife in the state. The separatists who were no longer relevant got a fresh lease of life.
The politics of PDP seems to have come a full circle with the release of Masarat as it came at a time when democracy had thumped the separatist boycotts, and given J&K a really elected government. The people in the state had voted for change, and wanted relief from the government but the sudden decision to release Alam has once again changed the political discourse. People in Kashmir are surprised by the moves to give more space to separatists who have no obligation to reciprocate the gesture. The government in J&K, and PDP in particular should try to work with separatists but not with a political agenda but to defuse the Kashmir crisis once for all. If this is not done, then Kashmir could be heading back to the nineties when insurgency flourished and people died in scores for nothing tangible.