Union home minister Rajnath Singh has been asked to read the riot act to Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti during his two-day Srinagar visit that began today, said a source.
Rajnath is expected to tell Mehbooba on behalf of the Centre that she will have to round up within a fortnight “80” listed over ground workers operating in the Valley for militant outfits.
The source said the Centre was concerned about the prospects of the cycle of violence completing 50 days by end-August and was keen to break it “sooner than later”.
If Mehbooba failed to deliver, the Centre might consider asking the BJP to pull out of the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir and bringing the state under the Raj Bhavan’s rule with a new governor.
“Sending Rajnath Singh was the Centre’s last attempt to try and salvage the situation. If this fails, the government has to look at tougher options,” a government source said.
The Centre is apparently peeved with Mehbooba for “allowing political expediency” to get the better of governance and the restoration of law and order.
“South Kashmir is the hub of the on-going violence where Mehbooba’s People’s Democratic Party has vast pockets of influence. But she is not visiting the region despite winning her election recently from there. She’s scared stiff, she does not want to antagonise her vote banks,” said a BJP source.
The Centre’s information is that 80 identified over-ground workers were “inciting, organising and supporting” the stone-throwers.
The perceived role of the Jama’at-e-Islami Kashmir that had earlier proclaimed that the Hizbul Mujahideen was its “sword arm” is also under the scanner.
Mehbooba is being pressured to crack down on the Jama’at, too.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his security advisers are expected to firm up the next course of action on Kashmir once Rajnath shares his assessment.
“Tougher action is a double-edged sword because if it spirals out of control, there will be more trouble. Obviously, the government has given the chief minister a long rope,” said the government source.
Asked if the separatists were being reached out to, a source in Delhi said: “No, there is no talk with the separatists. But the home minister is meeting representatives of every political party. Many of them are in touch with the separatist leaders, so he will get a sense of what that side is thinking about.”
(This news item first appeared in The Telegraph Calcutta, India.)