New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir saw the lowest voter turnout in Srinagar's repeat by-poll in the history of the state with only two per cent showing up at polling stations. The unprecedented violence during the first by-poll on last Sunday, which also saw only seven per cent voters, resulted in eight deaths and injuries to more than 100 security personnel. But former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference leader Dr Farooq Abdullah, who won the Srinagar parliamentary seat, said on The NDTV Dialogues that not all stone throwers can be blamed for the bloodshed in the Valley and that "some of them are funded by the state government".
"In 2010, BJP senior leader LK Advani had said the stone throwers were former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's creation. So I am not the only one saying this. Not all stone throwers are government people, they have grievances. But some of them have been funded by the government," Dr Abdullah said.
Syed Ata Hasnain, former corps commander, Srinagar-based 15 Corps, doubted the timing of Mr Abdullah's stone throwers' comment and said, "I know why Dr Abdullah has made this statement at this juncture (election season). He may change his mind later. Street protests in Kashmir have reached a level of professional management. Separatists' reach, organisation and infrastructure are till the tehsil level. This arrangement is at some level even better than that of the security forces."
Calling stone throwers "misguided elements", Hardeep Puri, former Indian Permanent Representative to UN and BJP member, said, "The government needs to reach out to these people to save them from falling into the hands of neighbouring country which foments this kind of discontent in order to keep you on the edge all the time."
Accusing the PDP of letting down the people of Kashmir, Dr Abdullah said, "People of the valley are terribly hurt. The PDP campaigned to keep BJP out. People now say they have been betrayed."
Criticising the BJP-PDP coalition for the lack of engagement with people of Kashmir, Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor, said, "The BJP-PDP government has missed the opportunity. They have no credibility left for talks to take place. There is now complete disillusionment with the BJP-PDP government inJammu and Kashmir."
Responding to these comments, PDP Leader Vikramaditya Singh said, "I agree what Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had said the PDP-BJP coalition was impossible. But to form the government at that time, when Jammu had voted for the BJP, Kashmir chose PDP, we had to take this step. How could we have excluded either one of them?"
Attacking the centre for its lack of involvement in the affairs of the state, Mr Singh said, "The current situation in Kashmir is the result of centre's failure to hold effective dialogue with all stakeholders in Kashmir. Starting from the Gajendragadkar Committee in 1967 to reports of all party delegation, none of this has been tabled in the parliament."
He added, "We still have four years to go. We have always believed that talks must go on with all stakeholders at all times. Sometimes it appears difficult. You can also have back channel talks and not everything has to be in the public domain."