This Article is From Aug 15, 2010

Shoe thrown at Omar Abdullah: Breach or spontaneous protest?

Srinagar: It was meant to be an occasion for J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to reach out to people. Instead, the focus of Independence Day celebrations in Srinagar on Sunday turned out to be a major security breach. (See Pics: Other shoe hurling incidents)

A shoe was hurled at him from the third row of the VIP enclosure, not by an angry youth, but a policeman.

It was an unexpected attack soon after Omar unfurled the national flag.

But the Chief Minister tried to take it in his stride, "I have no regrets that today as soon as I came a person shouted slogans. But if it's a shoe today, and not a stone in our hands, it couldn't be better." (Video Special: Shoe attacks - hits and misses)

Security for the function was so high that no civilians - not even schoolchildren - were allowed at the venue, forget the VIP enclosure. Police say it was a suspended head constable, who is mentally unsound with a case of extortion against him.

But who is the man who threw shoe at Omar Abdullah? He is a suspended Head Constable named Abdulla Ahad Jaan and a criminal case was registered against him in May.

The police claim that he was approached by a politician and that he used the entry pass of a leader to gain entry into the venue.

An embarrassed security apparatus says the constable had been suspended, but can't seem to explain how he managed to get into the high security VIP corner and target the chief minister. And were there others involved?

Fifteen policemen, including four officers, have now been suspended for a security breach.

Omar tried to connect to people by addressing the cynicism. An economic package wasn't enough, he said, adding that Kashmir needs autonomy.

"The crisis in J&K is because of political reasons and the solution also must be political in nature," Omar said.

Overall, it was an appeal for peace to everyone - protesters and security forces alike.

"At least to honour this holy month of Ramzan, why don't we decide today to stop violence and the show of strength on both sides? Why don't we decide that there should be no stone throwing, no firing, no bullets and no lathicharge?" Omar said.

There was something for the youth too who are believed to be disgruntled. The Chief Minister promised 50,000 government jobs in the next few months.

But whether these appeals and promises will pacify the protesters and help Omar connect with people is another matter. The shoe throwing was not a good sign.