Be it the death of Haji Yousuf, sacking of Mustafa Kamal or partial removal of AFSPA, the ruling National Conference managed to stay in the eye of the storm for all the wrong reasons.
2011 was apparently peaceful. This peace of the street couldn’t get its way into the house of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. He had to face embarrassment to the extent that he was asked to resign by the principal opposition party, the PDP.
This political storm was triggered by a death of Syed Yousuf Shah- NC man who never held any party post but was believed to be the kingmaker. From a teacher in adult education department to a political dealmaker of immense access and power in the National Conference, Yousuf lived many lives simultaneously.
A trusted confidante of Abdullah family, Yousuf was allegedly killed by torture in the residence of Chief Minister. “He (Haji Yousuf) had been called by the Minister of State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani to his place, and I blame him (Wani) for this murder,” said Hussain, brother of Yousuf.
The chief minister vehemently denied the allegations. He said he summoned Haji Yousuf to his residence after he received a complaint that Haji had taken more than a crore of rupees from two party workers (Abdul Salam Reshi and Mohmmad Yousuf Bhat) after promising them high posts. He said Haji had “admitted everything”, following which he (Omar) had asked MoS Wani to call in the police.
Seen in a chopper with the chief minister and at places where only VIPs have access, Yousuf after death was termed a ‘crook’ by Omar Abdullah.
The party was shaken from the ground. Desperate to have someone to face the volley of allegations and accusation, NC in a hurriedly meeting designated Dr Mustafa Kamal as spokesman and additional general secretary. Kamal for the first time had the party on his side, but he couldn’t keep it for long.
His spell as spokesperson of NC which his father founded was brief but eventful. After being in the chair for just five weeks he was shown the door by his elder brother and party President Dr Farooq Abdullah, who had once described him ‘his father’s mistake.’
Appointed at the crucial juncture Kamal did damage control exercise for the party and somehow managed to divert attention of the change of guard after three years to a large extent. From grenade attacks on the eve of Diwali to assassination bid on Ali Muhammad Sagar, Kamal did not rule out involvement of the Army. Kamal possibly was most vocal and firebrand leader of pro-India camp this year.
Not sparing New Delhi he carried out scathing attacks on which his nephew and chief minister Omar Abdullah said, “He happens to be my father’s brother and puts me in very odd situation.” Even after being repeatedly told to exercise restrain, Kamal but continued.
Not only did he call the congress leaders of state as gutter worms Kamal reacted sharply to the statement of Soz in which he stated that even Rahul Gandhi was not happy with the governance that Omar is providing to J&K.
Rahulji’s role is to run congress party and not the state government. What has Rahul’s happiness or unhappiness to do with the functioning of the state government,” Kamal said.
Many in political circles feel that statement against baba of congress sealed fate of Kamal as the spokesman.
As the internal matters were settling down, seniour leader of National Conference Ali Muhammad Sagar had a narrow escape on December 11. He was attacked in an old city area of Nawabazar- a part of constituency he represents in the legislative assembly. One of his police guards was killed besides injuries to three others, one of them a civilian.
The attackers reportedly came in a vehicle and fired upon the policemen guarding the house Sagar was in. Jamiat Ul Mujahideen claimed the responsibility for attack though police found it hard to believe and see little merit in the claim.
Why were police not informed about the visit of a senior minister and why the area was not secured properly? Why the area was reeling under darkness when a secured person was present.