SRINAGAR: National Conference working president Omar Abdullah today accused Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti of supervising a "selective crackdown" on separatist leaders based on their level of public opposition to her party's recurring U-turns ahead of the by-poll to Anantnag constituency.
"The same Mehbooba, who advocated political engagement and dialogue with Hurriyat leaders, is now supervising a selective crackdown on those separatist leaders who are more open and stinging in their criticism of her policies and U-turns. It was PDP that assured the separatists a battle of ideas where they would be free to advocate their views in a free and democratic manner. Today she has gone from that self-righteous moral pedestal to the role of personally directing arrests and using almost three-decade-old cases to send separatist leaders to jail," he said.
The former Chief Minister was addressing party workers at his Beerwah assembly constituency. Omar claimed it was clear that Mehbooba was spooked by her growing unpopularity ahead of the Anantnag by-poll and intended to re-arrest all Hurriyat leaders as soon as the election concluded.
"When we asked Mehbooba in the Legislative Assembly why separatist leaders were being arrested rather than being invited for talks as she and her party had promised, she responded by saying that these arrests were being carried out to prevent Hurriyat leaders from disrupting the tourist season. "It took her one trip to Anantnag to see how exceedingly unpopular she had become and how there was a growing wave of resentment against her and PDP at the grassroots level," he said.
The NC working president said the adverse reports from Anantnag have frightened Mehbooba into believing that releasing selected separatist leaders for a week only to be re-arrested later will somehow help her in salvaging her precipitously deteriorating position . He said Mehbooba's glaring ideological contradictions and changing stances on sensitive issues had created an unprecedented and dangerous atmosphere of anxiety in the state.
"The Chief Minister has chosen to vacillate on highly sensitive issues like rehabilitation of Kashmir Pandits in townships and the issue of Sainik Colonies. "As the principal opposition party, we have sought clarity from her government on these issues time and again but her response has been thta of hostility and petulance - which is unbecoming of a Chief Minister," he said.
"She contradicts what her spokespersons and cabinet ministers say about these issues and in turn they contradict her assurances made on the floor of the assembly. "This inherent confusion and chaos within the PDP-BJP government has resulted in a situation where the dividends of hard-earned relative peace ensured during the tenure of the previous Government are not being consolidated upon," he said.
Omar said there is a drastic increase in violence and a decrease in basic governance. Development in the state has come to a standstill and our policemen are being targeted in broad daylight. "When the Chief Minister is asked to respond to genuine apprehensions in a responsible manner, she, sadly, loses her temper and resorts to diversions and distractions to escape accountability," he said.
The byelection to the Anantnag Assembly seat, from where Mehbooba is seeking election will be held on June 22.