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Centre & Srinagar kiss and make up

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SEEMA GUHA   |   Delhi   |   Published 29.11.02, 12:00 AM

New Delhi, Nov. 29: The Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government have decided to stop the slanging match over the release of political prisoners.

“The blame game is over. There will be no more levelling of charges by either side,” a senior official said. “We have to join forces in the fight against terrorism, especially in a sensitive state like Kashmir,” he added.

Chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was the first to call a truce. He is reported to have ordered the re-arrest of some of the prisoners released by his government. The exact numbers are not known, with figures varying from four or five to around 16.

North Block is not bothered about numbers. It is happy with the gesture, interpreting it as a sign that Mufti is as keen as the Centre to kiss and make up.

Delhi has been unhappy that the chief minister has not come for consultations with Central leaders since taking office. Mufti has now decided to come over either on Sunday or Monday. He is expected to call on Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and his deputy, L.K.Advani.

Mufti’s aides say he has not met government leaders because he has been busy and the new Assembly has had its first meeting. Now that the House has been constituted, it is the right time to come calling.

His predecessor, Farooq Abdullah, had kept in regular touch with Advani and the PMO and was seen in Srinagar as Delhi’s stooge.

Conscious of this, Mufti made it a point not to rush to the Centre immediately after taking office and has let reasonable time lapse before his visit.

Mufti, who shares cordial relations with Advani, realises that he cannot function without the goodwill of the Centre because he is heavily dependent on it for funds.

“But if Mufti needs the Centre, the Centre is equally dependent on the chief minister,” a senior bureaucrat dealing with Kashmir explained.

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