Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik has ruled out any “underhand” deal at government formation, and said fresh elections will be held “as soon as possible”.

In an interview to The Print, Malik also said Friday’s killing of three special police officers (SPOs) in Kashmir was a sign of the militants’ desperation.

Responding to a question on whether New Delhi has any plan to restore an elected government in J&K, which has been under Governor’s Rule since June, Malik said: “Not right now. Our focus is the ensuing panchayat elections. Once these are done peacefully, we will look at fresh elections as soon as possible.

“But we don’t want to cobble together a government through any underhand means. After the ongoing elections, we will start looking at holding fresh elections for the J&K assembly. There is no plan to form a government by engineering defections.”

On panchayat elections and whether, in light of the increasing incidents of violence, the state would continue the process, Malik said: “There is no way elections will be postponed. The process will be carried through. The home ministry is sending extra forces to provide security to candidates.”

Asked about the killing of three police personnel by militants in Kashmir Friday, Malik said the security situation in J&K was “improving”.

He said the killings were just a reaction to the successes that the forces had registered in anti-militancy operations.

He also played down the resignation by seven SPOs Friday, which the home ministry has called “false propaganda”.

Malik said the government was of the firm view that “terrorism is not in the gun — it survives in the minds of the people. That is what needs to be addressed”.

“The alienation of the youth has to be addressed. That is our focus now. But, it can’t be controlled if we fight with them. We have to see how to address the issues pertaining to the youth,” he said.

The governor said Kashmir will host two Indian Premier League matches in the next season.

“Kashmiris also like listening to FM channels, and we have decided to take all FM channels to all disturbed districts of Kashmir,” he said.

Malik, the first politician to be appointed governor of the state, also said the only way to end J&K’s alienation was through development and talks.

On the unceremonious ouster of state DGP SP Vaid last month, Malik said: “The decision to bring in a new face was taken before I came in.

“I was very comfortable with him (Vaid). He was doing a good job, a very good officer. He has also accepted it very gracefully. The process to appoint the new (full-time) DGP is already on and the UPSC is looking at it.”

This post was published on September 22, 2018