Flashback 2016: A year of turmoil and decision in Jammu and Kashmir
Srinagar, Dec 26: 2016 saw Mehbooba Mufti taking over as the first woman chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Army for the first time carrying out surgical strikes on militant camps in PoK while violent protests for months hit hard normal life and resulted in shutdown of schools and death of 86 people.
The government had also to grapple with the NIT unrest, mysterious school burning incidents and blinding due to pellet gun firing issues. The only silver lining during all this mayhem was that the annual Amarnath yatra to south Kashmir Himalayas went on, though with some interruptions due to authorities' stopping the pilgrims from travelling during day to avoid any casualties.
In fact, local residents of Bijbehara town defied curfew to help a group of Amarnath pilgrims to hospital after their vehicle met with an accident. The year, however, started with Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who had cobbled up an unimaginable coalition government between his PDP and the BJP a year earlier, losing his battle against illness at AIIMS in Delhi on January 7.
Following Saeed's death, a smooth transition of power was expected to his daughter and political heir Mehbooba Mufti but the PDP president refused to take charge for over two and half months.
As the days passed, it seemed increasingly difficult for the two parties to come together again with the PDP setting some conditions like initiation of the confidence building measures by the Centre.
Finally, Mehbooba was sworn in as the first woman chief minister of the state on April 4. No sooner had she assumed office, Mehbooba faced her first real test.
An unrest began at NIT Srinagar where students from outside the Valley were accused of beating local students following a tiff over an India-Pakistan cricket match. However, the outside students alleged they were tortured by police inside the campus, sparking off a massive crisis that hogged national headlines for several days.
The authorities had to shut down the institute for some time to allow the frayed tempers to cool down. The NIT dust was yet to settle down when Mehbooba's government faced with two more controversies.
The reported plans to set up Sainik colonies and exclusive colonies for migrant Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley drew severe criticism from mainstream Opposition parties as well as separatist groups, which threatened to launch an agitation over these issues.