‘Numerous factors led to our debacle; Have learnt a lesson’ Excerpts from CM’s first newspaper interview after poll debacle
J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Thursday said he is “actively considering” to widen the scope of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) ordered into killing of 17 youth during the 2010 mass uprising in Kashmir to include with its ambit all such killings that year.
Omar’s statement comes days after his party, the National Conference, was routed in parliament polls in Kashmir. The party has admitted that the 2010 killings, apart from host of other issues, were the reasons for its debacle in the elections.
“I understand there is a concern that the judicial inquiry ordered into the 2010 killings was limited to initial deaths only and not the entire summer,” said Omar in an exclusive interview with Greater Kashmir—his first to a newspaper after the poll debacle.
“It is now under my active consideration to widen the scope of the inquiry to include the entire summer that we had,” he said.
Kashmir witnessed mass uprising in 2010 after the killing of three persons from north Kashmir’s Baramulla district by army in a fake encounter at Machil near the Line of Control. At least 125 civilians were killed in police and CRPF action that summer.
Omar said his Government would implement the findings of the CoI, assuring there would be no cover up for misuse of force.
J&K Government had ordered the CoI into the killing of only 17 youth in 2010. But the Commission did not make any progress.
Omar said in every single death in 2010 police has produced the challan before the Court and it was now for the judiciary to take the matter forward.
After his National Conference lost all the three Lok Sabah seats to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Omar sought feedback from people for the debacle.
Today, Omar candidly admitted that summer of 2010, execution of Muhammad Afzal Guru “in some minds” and numerous other factors were responsible for his party’s defeat.
“By executing him (Afzal) they did not benefit but it cost us politically. I categorically told the Centre this should not happen…I was called the night before by the Union Home Secretary saying tomorrow morning it is happening,” Omar said.
He also attributed the steep hike in power tariffs during the National Conference-Congress Government and difficulties faced by people in getting ration as reasons for his party’s loss. J&K has seen the Government hiking the tariffs at least five times during Omar’s tenure even as National Conference had in its 2008 election assembly promised to remove the electricity meters and have minimal tariffs.
“Disconnect between the rank and file of the National Conference and large chunk of youth also attributed to the loss,” said Omar, who is also the working President of National Conference.
In reference to his statement that he would introspect, Omar said: “The idea was to learn the lesson which we have learnt and to gradually put corrections into place which we are doing.”
Omar has already ensured scrapping of the new recruitment policy under which new appointees were being paid stipends instead of regular salaries. Besides, his Government has lifted the four-year SMS ban on prepaid mobiles.
“We are on way to take several initiatives, most of them pro-youth and pro-employees,” Omar said. Reportedly the Government is considering enhancing the retirement age from the present 58 to 60 years, a long-pending demand of the state employees.