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Posted on Nov 15, 06:28PM | IBNS
Senior People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig on Thursday said the present coalition government has converted Jammu and Kashmir into an open prison where there is no right to dissent.
Addressing a massive public meeting at North Kashmir's Naidkhah in Sonawari, Baig said dissension is a fundamental right of everybody living in a democratic set up.
"In a modern democratic society, the right to dissent is one of the most fundamental rights. Right to debate or freedom of speech and the right to express dissent are the basic principals of a democracy," Baig said.
"But unfortunately the present state government believes in muzzling dissent by frequent detentions of youth and continuous house arrest of Hurriyat leaders."
He said resolution of Kashmir issue is essential because there is 'a problem about Jammu and Kashmir'.
The former deputy chief minister observed that the Hurriyat also says that there is a problem and while there can be a difference of opinion on the mode of resolution, nobody can deny the existence of the problem.
"Many quarters have been in a denial mode for long but that has only added to the complexity of the problem," he remarked.
He said the present coalition government is responsible for maligning the name of Indian democracy and constitutional system by depriving peaceful and respectable citizens, their liberty and fundamental rights.
"This government has lowered the prestige of country's judicial system and constitutional scheme by muzzling the voice of dissent and putting in jail elderly people and teenagers who should have been in schools and colleges," Baig told a well-attended public meeting.
He said denial of rights is not new to the state.
"It has experienced turbulent and dark times in the past, but the elections in 2002 had changed the fundamentals of our politics and course of struggle for rights," he said.
He said the forces of peace and reconciliation encouraged after 2002 had helped in starting a peace process that could have led to its logical conclusion; the peaceful resolution of Kashmir problem.
Baig said the PDP had forged an alliance with Congress after more than a month deliberations that took place only on framing Common Minimum Programme (CMP) which besides other major reforms included the resolution of Kashmir issue and scrapping of draconian laws.
"The Congress had also accepted the Kashmir resolution as a part of our CMP and that had to a large extent restored credibility of Congress in the state as well.
"Had the PDP-Congress coalition continued the history of the state would have been different; even though I believe that the destiny of Jammu and Kashmir is bound to change anyways for better," he said.
Baig said it was a blot on the country's name that hundreds of people continue to be behind bars for the mere use of their right to express a dissenting view.
"Many ideas about the state, its problems and resolution have been articulated from time to time which has resulted in uncertainty and miseries for people. But democracy is all about meeting an idea with a more creative idea which is in tune with the spirit and reality of present times," Baig said.
He reiterated PDP's belief that the institutions like the state Assembly and the Panchayats have an important role in articulating and channelising the aspirations of the people.
"They are not anybody's proxies or rubberstamps," he said and referred to the autonomy resolution passed by the state Assembly many years back.
He said it was a different case that National Conference (NC) had bartered away even this resolution for a share in power but the fact remains that state Assembly has the authority and credibility to contribute to ultimate resolution.
The former Deputy Chief Minister said the Omar Abdullah government has failed on all fronts primarily because it had neither an agenda nor a direction, while the PDP in 2002 ensured that the resolution of Kashmir problem and dismantling of state repression were included in the CMP with the Congress.
"NC in its hurry to grab power forgot even about its own manifesto. Its alliance with Congress is gross political opportunism and a state has reached in this coalition where corruption seems the basic CMP among the two parties," he said.
Referring to various cases of corruption including the mysterious death of senior NC worker Haji Yousf and the Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Scam, Baig said the NC had already gained notoriety in corruption cases but it is now pulling down its coalition partner Congress as well.
"There could be no best examples of worst state of affairs that the office of chief minister has been questioned in corruption cases which has not only lowered down the prestige of CM's office," he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Molvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, PDP senior vice president, expressed concern over governance deficit in Jammu and Kashmir.
Ansari said the present dispensation has failed to address even problems of basic amenities on ground.
He further observed that the only agreed programme in present dispensation is to fill up their coffers. A
nsari said the corrupt practices at the top have resulted in the collapse of administration on the ground and the people have been left to bear miseries for want of their rights.
Yasir Reshi, party district president, also addressed the gathering.