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Mehbooba govt in Kashmir falls as BJP says alliance has become ‘untenable’ and pulls out

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav and Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta addressing a press conference in New Delhi to withdraw the alliance with PDP in Jammu & Kashmir. Picture by Prem Singh

New Delhi, Jun 19 (Agencies): Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has decided to resign, a party leader said, shortly after the Bharatiya Janata Party quit the alliance with her Peoples’ Democratic Party that has ruled the state since 2014.

The BJP had entered into an unlikely alliance with Mehbooba’s regional party after state elections in 2014 produced a hung assembly. The PDP holds 28 seats and the BJP 25 of the 87 seats in the Assembly.

“It has become untenable for the BJP to continue in the alliance government in Jammu & Kashmir,” Ram Madhav, the party’s general secretary, told reporters in Delhi after a meeting of top BJP leaders and its ministers in Mehbooba’s government.

Shortly afterwards, PDP minister Naeem Akhtar announced that Mehbooba would submit her resignation to the governor.

Madhav said the Union government’s decision to suspend anti-militancy operations during the holy month of Ramazan as part of a ceasefire was a major factor that alienated the BJP.

“We had formed an alliance for peace and development, but on the contrary terrorism has escalated in the Valley. Journalist like Shujaat Bukhari was killed openly,” Madhav said.

BJP president Amit Shah had called for an urgent meeting of BJP ministers in the Kashmir government, in Delhi on Tuesday, ostensibly to discuss the party's strategy ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and also take stock of the political situation in the state.

Meanwhile, separatist leaders have called for a complete shutdown in Kashmir on Wednesday against the killings of editor Shujaat Bukhari, and civilians shot by security forces in the past few days.

The Joint Resistance Leadership, an amalgamation of separatist groups, said in a statement on Tuesday in Srinagar that there had been a sudden spike in civilian killings since the end of the daylight-fasting month of Ramazan last weekend. It also demanded an international probe into Bukhari's killing.

“Joint Resistance Leadership has called for a complete strike tomorrow against the continued civilian killings in the valley, which has witnessed a sudden spike since the eve of Eid... three young boys have been brutally gunned down by the Indian forces while the fourth is struggling for life at SKIMS,” the statement said.

He said the strike would also be observed against the brutal killing of Bukhari, who was shot dead along with his two personal guards outside his office on June 14 by unknown gunmen.

He said cordon-and-search operations had returned with a vengeance to the villages and people were being severely beaten and harassed and used as human shields.

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