Mixed reaction to move to declare J&K areas disturbed
9 August 2001
SRINAGAR: In already-disturbed Kashmir, the Government''s decision to declare several other areas in the State ''disturbed'' is seen as an attempt to cover up to its failure in tackling militancy, but in Jammu the move has been welcomed by political parties and prominent citizens . Common refrain in the Valley is that there was hardly any need to announce that Doda or parts of Udhampur are disturbed, with security forces enjoying unlimited powers to crush the militancy. Jammu and Kathua would hardly make any difference as far as militancy is concerned but it certainly speaks volumes of the deteriorating situation in the State. The President of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and MLA from Doda district, Sheikh Abdur Rehman, opposed the move and said ''it is the surrender of the Government before militants''. How can a Government claim that normality has been restored when some areas are declared disturbed, he asked. Mr. Rehman said sufferings of innocent people would increase under the garb of these powers. Senior Supreme Court lawyer and leader of the People''s Democratic Party, Mr. Muzaffar Hussain Beig, described the Government''s move as ''martial law''. It is their (Government''s) admission that law and order had collapsed, he said adding ''it is just a psychological weapon in the hands of security forces and cannot yield any result but will enhance their power without accountability''. Taking strong exception to extend the ''disturbed'' areas Act to Jammu region, the All-Party Hurriyat Conference spokesman said by taking such decisions, the Government could in no way change the ground situation. ''It is to tell the world that in violation of all international laws, India is bent upon genocide of people in Kashmir'', he said. Terming the situation as alarming, the Hurriyat has called upon people to be ready to face the challenge thrown up by the Government. In a guarded reaction, the ruling National Conference said the Government''s decision was ''unfortunate''. The party''s provincial president, Mr. G.N. Shaheen, said that if on this day (August 9, 1953) the powers in Delhi would not have dethroned Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah ''illegally'', there could not have been such a situation. Mr. Shaheen, who presided over a meeting to denounce the Centre''s action of 1953 today, said ''we condemn every kind of killing be it custodial or otherwise''. The PDP vice president, Ms. Mehbooba Mufti, alleged the move was to befool people as there were already limitless powers to forces.