PDP divided over student protests in Kashmir, now says "agitation natural"

Breaking its silence, PDP leaders have condemned the police action on students and intrusion of forces into academic institutions in Kashmir

Prompted by widespread student protests in Kashmir and closure of education of educational institutions, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has issued some self-contradictory statements.

Breaking its silence over the student protests against the assault on their colleagues at Government Degree College Pulwama on April 15, the ruling PDP has condemned the police action on students and intrusion of forces into academic institutions.

Terming the outrage of students as “natural”, Nizam Ud Din Bhat, the General Secretary of the PDP suggested that the government should shut educational institutions till “appropriate action is not taken against the culprits.”

In a statement issued on April 17, the PDP also demanded “immediate probe and stern action against the personnel involved in disturbing the peace of the college and use of any force against students and the staff.”

But then by condemning the action of government forces on students, isn’t PDP condemning its own government? Well, the argument doesn’t end there.

While the ruling party finds “student outrage as natural”, the ministers from the same PDP think otherwise. On April 18, the state Cabinet which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is also the PDP President, “urged the civil society and parents to counsel the youth to stay away from violent protests which, in spite of maximum restraint, can at times lead to fatal consequences.”

The same afternoon, in an interesting development, the state government attacked Prof Abdul Hamid Sheikh, the principal of the ill-fated Pulwama college where police and other forces had allegedly bullied the students, leaving over 60 of them wounded.

Ironically, Instead of initiating action against the civil and police administration for failing to maintain law and order, something that resulted in widespread protests across Kashmir, the principal of an academic institution that was at the receiving end has been made a scapegoat.

On the fateful day when the students were thrashed, Prof. Sheikh had told media persons that “forces created complete chaos and violent situation” in the educational institution by forcing their entry despite his hand-folded requests.

In the past days of student protests over 100 of them have been wounded while two received serious head injuries during alleged use of excessive force by government forces.

In a civilized society, student protests are never a trivial issue and need to be handled with utmost caution. This ambiguity in the words and deeds of the ruling PDP is only fostering the crises.

Hope the ruling PDP clears the air because as of now its self- contradictory stands are as confusing as the unsolved riddle given to Alice: Why is a raven like a writing desk?