National Conference not to attend Kashmir all-party meet

Srinagar: Opposition National Conference on Wednesday said there was “no effective leadership” in the Jammu and Kashmir government and refused to participate in an all-party meeting called by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to discuss the current turmoil in the Valley.

National Conference leader Ali Mohammed Sagar in a statement said it was “extremely unfortunate” that the Chief Minister was calling a meeting of all political parties “almost two weeks” after unrest hit the valley following the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. “In the meantime, the number of dead and injured has continued to rise.

It would have been better if the Chief Minister had responded to our party’s offer of support earlier instead of waiting for the suffering and misery of the people to reach this level,” Sagar said.

He said the National Conference was boycotting the all-party meet on Thursday also because “there is no effective leadership in the state government at present”. It cited statements from some PDP leaders, including that of lawmaker Muzaffar Hussain Beigh, that “have not only added to the confusion but have significantly weakened the institution and office of the Chief Minister”.

Beigh had expressed doubts over the operation that killed Wani and alleged that the security agencies had kept Mehbooba Mufti in the dark over it. “This leads one to conclude that (Mehbooba) Mufti does not even command the loyalty of her police force, much less the loyalty of the people,” Sagar said.

“Similarly the assertion by (Beigh) crediting Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) with reducing excessive use of force further weakened the image of the Chief Minister who is seen as a mute spectator, immune to the bloodshed and suffering.”

The National Conference also castigated the Chief Minister over “mishandling” the media by first enforcing a ban on newspapers, which was later contradicted by her advisor Amitabh Mattoo. “Until such time a credible, effective and humane leadership is re-established in the state this all-party meeting will prove to be a meaningless exercise.”