There were two major developments in Kashmir valley on Thursday. Fifteen foreign envoys, including US ambassador to India Kenneth Juster, visited Srinagar and met with politicians, army officers and members of civil society to discuss the present situation in the Valley, and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti expelled eight party leaders for 'engaging with the government.
It was the first official trip by diplomats to Kashmir after the historic August 5 repeal of Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcation of the state into two union territories. Politicians in the Valley who met the diplomats included former minister Syed Altaf Bukhari and Majid Padder (both PDP), and Shoaib Lone and Hilal Shah (both Congress).
In the evening, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, though under house arrest, announced through her Twitter handle that she has expelled eight party leaders for what she called 'engaging with the government'.
The eight leaders are Dilawar Mir, Rafi Ahmed Mir, Zaffar Iqbal, Abdul Majeed Padrroo, Raja Manzoor Khan, Javaid Hussain Baig, Qamar Hussain and Abdul Rahim Rather. These were the leaders who had met the Lt. Governor G. C. Murmu on Tuesday.
However, a senior PDP leader former deputy chief minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig hit out at Mehbooba saying it was her 'provocative' remark that 'no one would be left to hold the tricolour in the Valley if Article 370 was removed' that led to the bifurcation of Jammu & Kashmir. Baig said, 'the statement should not have been made. If J&K has to live together and if we have to bat for our rights, we have to talk with decency and humility'.
Baig also said, ''we cannot get anything by browbeating and threatening Modiji, Home Minister or NSA. As citizens of India, we should put before them our grievances and our problems with humility'.
It is a fact that there has been no bloodshed in the Valley after Article 370 was revoked and not a single citizen died at the hands of security forces. I would rather say the citizens in the Valley played a greater role than the security forces in maintaining peace. Nothing of the sort like 'rivers of blood will flow' happened after the revocation of Article 370 as leaders like Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti had warned ominously.
The people of the valley have given their reply to Mehbooba Mufti. Five months have elapsed since the revocation of Article 370, cellphone and SMS services have been resumed, leaders are being released from detention in phases.
It would be better if the Centre decides to resume internet services in the Valley. Internet services are an essential part of daily life. Students need the internet to study, traders need the internet for trade, and tourists find it difficult to book hotel rooms in the absence of the internet. The government has to bear the burden of a fall in revenue because of the loss of trade. Resumption of internet services in the Valley is the need of the hour.
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