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Top Indian agency absolves Pakistan of fomenting unrest in Kashmir

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Blames Omar Abdullah for creating the mess; Indian police on verge of revolt; Pakistani spokesman says Kashmiri struggle is indigenous(Special to The News)

By Arun Rajnath

NEW DELHI: A leading Indian intelligence agency has absolved Pakistan of any involvement and fomenting unrest in the Kashmir Valley but has blamed chief minister of Indian-held J&K Omar Abdullah for messing up the situation.

A report on the Kashmir situation handed over by the Intelligence Bureau to the Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi also blames some second wrung separatist leaders of trying to cash in on the situation, officials who have seen the report say.

A recent visit to Srinagar by this correspondent revealed that the crisis has deepened so much that the local police force in the Valley is on the brink of revolt.

Some quarters contend that Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has lost control over the administration and infighting within the ruling National Conference has intensified.

According to the IB report, all frontline separatist leadership is either in jail or under house arrest or under strict monitoring, hence, it is not possible for them to directly instigate protestors to adopt extreme steps. There has been no terrorist activity in the Valley during protests, or no attempt of infiltration during these anarchic days. That shows that Pakistan cannot be blamed for the situation in the Valley.

When contacted Additional Director General (Media and Communication) for Ministry of Home Affairs Onkar Kedia was out of station on leave but his deputy, Director (Media and Communication) for Ministry of Home Affairs Ravinder Singh simply said: “I have no knowledge of any such report.”

Spokesman of the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi Press Minister Shah Zaman when asked to comment on the report told this correspondent: “Pakistan has never interfered in Kashmir. We give diplomatic and moral support to the people of Kashmir. There is no interference from Pakistan’s side. Kashmir is a disputed area and Pakistan and India should resolve it according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people.”

The Pakistani official said as far as the present uprising in Kashmir is concerned, it is entirely indigenous. “If human rights violations continue and army and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) would continue their operations, Kashmiri people would also continue to protest.”

When this correspondent recently visited Srinagar, it was clear that prior to the deployment of the Indian army, only CRPF was entrusted with the job of maintaining law and order in towns but the local police force remained complacent or silent spectators.

In the first of the two major instances, in Maisuma when locals assembled before the police station and raised slogans against the government and shouted pro Azadi slogans, police kept silent and took no action. In Batmalu where some agitated local youth gathered outside the police station, the police refused to act. The administration had to send in CRPF to disperse the mob.

A veteran Indian police officer on request of anonymity said: “I would say that local policemen are fed up with the government because we have to face the ire of people. Police easily becomes the target for no fault of theirs. Government and top administration are chiefly responsible for the situation.”

When asked if the provincial police force was close to a revolt, he said: “You have freedom of speech, so you can use any word. But I feel ‘revolt’ is a strong word. You can say the provincial police force is dissatisfied and to some extent it has become disenchanted with the Omar administration. This could prove dangerous in the long run.”

On the other hand infighting within the ruling coalition has erupted. Central minister for health and family welfare and former chief minister of the state Ghulam Nabi Azad and former water resources minister Prof. Saifuddin Soz (both Congress) do not even talk to each other. Minister for New and Renewable Energy Dr. Farooq Abdullah is their common political foe. Both of them are allegedly trying to unseat Farooq’s son Omar Abdullah.

Congress party sources say since Prof. Soz has been deprived of the Cabinet berth in the Centre, he wishes to be adjusted in the politics of the Valley.

As far as National Conference is concerned, two leaders have silently emerged as contenders for Omar Abdullah’s position. They are J&K law and parliamentary affairs minister Ali Mohammad Sagar and finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather.

A confidant of Abdul Rahim Rather said: “Omar Abdullah does not even take calls from Mr. Rather, and he superciliously ignores many senior leaders of the party.”

When asked about alleged infighting within the National Conference, Rather’s confidant said: “In fact infighting is not new to the party. As a matter of fact it has surfaced during the present Kashmir crisis. National Conference has become Jebi Party (pocket party) of the Shaikh family.”

The confidant sarcastically added: “Omar Abdullah is surrounded by some young ministers and his business partners. In fact, the state administration is being run on the lines of a business house. The Omar administration directly deals with the CRPF ignoring ground realities and local police administration. You should know that local police administration does have influence over local population because they interact directly with one another, but since ‘businessmen’ rely more on CRPF, the situation is getting out of control.”

He said: “On the one hand Mr. Rather openly criticises the CRPF for its extreme actions, and on the other, chief minister praises the role of the CRPF and claims everything is under control. Anybody can smell discontent within the party.”

Maruti-Suzuki car dealer and Omar Abdullah’s advisor and spokesperson Devender Rana is a big car dealer and owns showrooms in Srinagar, Jammu and New Delhi. He belongs to Jammu and he is said to be a business partner of Omar Adbullah. He was, however, not available for comments despite repeated attempts to get Omar Abdullah’s point of view.

Meanwhile, Farooq Abdullah urged Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram on July 10, 2010 to pre-empt any move of Ghulam Nabi Azad and Prof. Saifuddin Soz that could prove dangerous for his son.

Congress sources say both the leaders have categorically told him that to maintain law and order is a state matter, and Omar Abdullah has to stop the situation from worsening.