As the state of Jammu and Kashmir struggles to come to terms with strife and turmoil, much of the recent violence has been attributed to the mismanagement of young Omar Abdullah. His administration has been criticized by the PDP, the separatists, and the people alike and he has failed to inspire the respect that he was expected to command the moment he took over as the youngest chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
I, in my limited capacity as a dilettante observer of politics, do not believe that it was the negligence of the Abdullah government that has led to the recent violence and a spike in the anti-India sentiment that is echoing throughout the valley. As an article in the Times rightly pointed out, the issues facing the state of Jammu and Kashmir are complex and multi-layered. Already reeling under the effects of a sluggish economy heavily dependent on tourism, Jammu and Kashmir also finds alienation from the rest of nation in the form of Article 370 of the Indian constitution which assigns a special set of laws for governance of the state, and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act which allots exceptional authority to the services occupying Kashmir. With the label of a ‘disturbed area’ as defined by the AFSPA slapped on the state, human rights violations by the army in the name of curbing terror are a commonplace occurrence. And responses to these violations are met with more violence. And since it is the bone of contention between India and Pakistan, the state also witnesses constant prodding from the other side of the border.
Of course, the recent violence can be traced back to the accidental killings of two young boys by the army a few months ago but the root problem is hostility and neglect. And it has nothing to do with Omar Abdullah, who I believe, is an excellent statesman and a brilliant politician. After all, who can forget his impassionate speech on the floor of the parliament during the no-confidence motion fiasco that plagued the government a year ago?
An indication of his integrity or probably his political acumen would be his decision to resign after allegations of involvement in a 2006 sex scandal were leveled against him and the ensuing chaos on the floor of the Kashmir assembly in 2009.
And it helps that he is one of the most well dressed politicians in the country!