Mehbooba Mufti’s condemnation not enough; she must act against stone-pelters

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said she had no words which were enough to condemn the stone-pelting incident that led to the death of a tourist in Jammu & Kashmir. She may have been genuinely distressed, but she also does not have words to condemn the stone-pelters and their patrons. And how can she, when she goes about offering amnesty to stone-pelters in her State; refuses to take a hard stance against instigators of such violence, both within the State and outside; allows insults from her party men to the country’s Armed Forces; initiates cases against brave Army officers who dare to take on rampaging mobs; and fails to dispel the perception that she is soft on pro-Pakistani elements. Stone-pelters are still being considered as ‘misled boys’ who can be corrected through reformative measures.

There has not been one instance to prove this. These stone-pelters are hardened criminals, regardless of their age, and need to be dealt with a strong hand. They are fully in the know of the grave consequences of their actions, and they are enjoying every moment of their violent deeds. The Mehbooba regime ought to at least now wake up and understand the truth behind Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat’s remark that the likes of stone-pelters — who not just target innocent citizens but also the Armed Forces when the latter are on duty, especially while flushing out militants — are overground supporters of terrorism and must be treated accordingly.

Unless the State Government takes the bull by the horns, nothing will change on the ground and all of the Chief Minister’s expressions of grief and anger will be seen as just hollow drama. The summer season has just begun and the administrative capital is back to Srinagar from Jammu. This is the time to hit out strongly against secessionist elements. If prompt and effective action is not taken now, it is possible that the situation will deteriorate in the coming months. The sad part is that the Bharatiya Janata party, from whom much was expected in restoring normalcy in the State through a mix of soft and strong measures, has become captive to Mehbooba Mufti’s politics because it is in alliance with her party. Day after day, BJP’s representatives have to field uncomfortable questions by the media, and their helplessness shows. The party is losing the trust of the people that voted for it in the last Assembly election — especially from the Jammu region. Some sort of recalibration is urgently needed.