Speaking at the Patrika Keynote Conclave 2016 at Lucknow organized by the Rajasthan Patrika Group on Monday, National Conference leader and Spokesperson Junaid Mattu told the gathering of Indian leaders, veteran journalists and film stars that “New Delhi was reinforcing a pre-existing sense of alienation among the disenchanted and wronged youth of Kashmir” who he said have been “sandwiched between Delhi’s arrogance and repression on one hand and the unimaginative, regressive and self-flagellating tactics of the clueless separatist leadership in the Valley on the other hand”. The conclave hosted national leaders, parliamentarians and public figures from around the country including UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, High Commissioner of Pakistan Abdul Basit, BJP leader Varun Gandhi, Congress leader Raj Babbar, INC Spokesperson Abhiskeh Manu Singhvi, SP Leader Shivpal Yadav, Congress leader Meenakshi Natarajan and Bollywood star Vidya Balan and included a special session on Kashmir. The Patrika Conclave was inaugurated by UP Chief Miniser Akhilesh Yadav.
“While it is great that we are here discussing the constructs and ideals of equality and unity and that of the country’s integrity, it is equally tragic and ironic that New Delhi has decided to turn a blind eye towards the anger being expressed by the youth of Kashmir since that past four months. Kashmir has been shut down for more than four months now and to attribute this anger solely to Pakistan or the separatists would be a grave mistake. The youth of Kashmir are not alienated from the Union because of lack of development or poor governance nor because of Hurriyat or Pakistan but inherently due to a political disempowerment of the State that started in 1953 when the State’s autonomy came under an extra-constitutional and illegitimate assault to pander to a hyper nationalistic, majoritarian narrative that goes against the idea of India that J&K acceded to”, Mattu said while speaking in Lucknow. Mattu also spoke about “the chaos and contradictions that have marred the PDP-BJP Government in the State” and while terming the alliance as an “opportunistic marriage of convenience at the cost of ideological stands of both parties” said there was enormous resentment against the Government as well as Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in the Valley.
“With almost a hundred young boys and girls killed in police and security forces action on protesters, we have thousands more who have lost complete or partial eyesight and are staring at a dark, abysmal future. Despite this heart wrenching situation and the clear indications of excessive and disproportionate use of force, the Central Government has chosen to ignore what’s happening in Kashmir. Their policy seems to be aimed at tiring the people into submission without realizing fatigue doesn’t mean a resolution of the political issue and won’t give them a sense of political gratification. All agitations have a limited endurance and as and when this agitation ends – it is only a matter of time till the next provocation sets of another agitation in Kashmir”, he was quoted as saying. The National Conference Spokesperson said the political sentiment in Kashmir is neither an invention of Pakistan nor of the Separatist Leaders. “Kashmiris would have espoused this political sentiment with or without Pakistan, with or without the Separatist Leaders. While Pakistan will obviously try to exact its own agenda out of such situations, Hurriyat leaders are today following the agitation rather than leading or orchestrating it. They are as clueless about this agitation as anyone else. Their only role remains issuing self-flagellating protest calendars which have become a source of misery and repression in itself. That the State Government appeals to Hurriyat and looks at Hurriyat for ‘good news’ is a verdict on its helplessness and incompetence”, Mattu said in his speech.
Responding to a question about the role of the opposition in the current situation in the Valley, Mattu said his party had gone above and beyond the call of duty to evolve a political consensus to deal with the grave situation in Kashmir. “Omar Abdullah led an all-party delegation to New Delhi and met the President, the Prime Minister and leaders of national parties. We have undertaken similar initiatives in Kashmir and presented a document to the visiting delegation of parliamentarians as well. We haven’t exploited this situation politically and unlike Mehbooba Mufti, we haven’t sought the dismissal of the State Government as a measure to deal with what seems to be happening. However, there is a palpable sense of arrogance and lack of seriousness in Delhi and they want to treat this as a law and order situation – which is extremely tragic and alarming. We will continue playing our part with the hope that the Central and the State Governments also start playing their parts”. (KNS)