JEHANGIR ALI | 8 NOVEMBER, 2015
Youth Killed, Shut Down IN JK: Is This the Political Package, Ask Kashmiris
PM Modi announces a Rs 80,000 crore economic package for JK
SRINAGAR: The killing of a demonstrator in Jsmmu and Kashmir capital Srinagar by government forces has shadowed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement of financial package for the state with authorities imposing curfew-like restrictions in parts of Kashmir Valley Sunday to prevent protests.
The Hurriyat has called for a shutdown today against the killing of Gowhar Nazir Dar in retaliatory action against protesters by government forces on Saturday evening, hours after Modi announced eighty thousand crore rupees financial package for J&K.
The shutdown call has been supported by the Bar Association in Kashmir, KCSDS, the largest civil society gathering in J&K and other civil society groups. With tension rising in the Valley, the state government also cancelled the SSB recruitment exams which were scheduled on Sunday.
Gowhar, a second semester engineering student, was hit by a teargas shell in the head and he succumbed at SKIMS hospital within minutes after he was brought in a critical state, sparking protests in many parts of the capital city, including the University of Kashmir, following which the authorities imposed restrictions to prevent a flare-up.
Amid high hopes, the much-anticipated financial package from the Centre didn't go down well with the Opposition, National Conference and Congress, Kashmir Inc, civil society, flood-hit people and even the BJP's coalition partner, PDP, in J&K.
While a large chunk of the package has been set aside for road projects and augmenting power infrastructure, only Rs 7894 crores will be utilised for rehabilitation of over four million people who were affected in last year's devastating flood.
Also, there is a reference to setting up of the IIT and IIM in Jammu alone, a controversial announcement which may become an eyesore for the PDP leadership in Kashmir Valley.
A senior PDP leader and a cabinet minister in J&K told The Citizen that more than the financial package, the party had expected the Prime Minister to announce a "political package" for the conflicted state.
"The people of J&K had high hopes that the PM will give a new impetus to the legacy of (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee. Kashmir needs a political package. If financial packages could change the political narratives, New Delhi would have won the 'heart and minds' of people here a long time back," the minister said.
Former chief minister and NC's working president, Omar Abdullah, said Kashmir problem can't be solved with economic packages, "Kashmir is not a Naxalite problem. People here are not fighting for poverty. Every chief minister has got a financial package for the state from New Delhi," he said.
Addressing a press conference in Srinagar, Omar said Modi has "buried the legacy" of his predecessor, Vajpayee, by not reaching out to Islamabad and separatists. "In 2003, Vajpayee used the slogan of Jamhooriyat (Democracy), Insaniyat (Humanity) and Kashmiriyat to address political issue of Kashmir and create an atmosphere for dialogue. Modi ended up burying that legacy," he said.
Although the speculations were rife within the PDP circles, Modi didn't refer to either Pakistan or separatist leadership in his Saturday rally. Speaking ahead of Modi, the J&K Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had stressed that India has to maintain good relations with Pakistan to become the Asian superpower.
However, when Modi addressed the rally, in a subtle snub to Mufti, he said he doesn't need anyone's advice on Kashmir. "He ignored the advice of his own Chief Minister who spoke about friendship, dialogue with Pakistan, before the Prime Minister today. But then Modi said he doesn’t need any advice. Then what is Mufti doing. If whatever he says doesn’t hold even for five minutes, then what must have happened to agenda of alliance” Omar asked.
Ahead of Modi’s rally, authorities had detained hundreds of Kashmiri separatist leaders and activists who had planned a parallel event near the venue. Syed Ali Geelani, who wants India to hold a referendum in Kashmir, had announced to lead the "Million March" as a counter to Modi’s rally.