'Collective Punishment of Kashmiris Endless'

Mehbooba: Kashmiri Youth Have Become Fodder for Congress-BJP Electoral Politics
SRINAGAR:  While expressing serious concern over prevailing situation in the state, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti today said that though the ‘collective conscience of the country was satisfied in a matter of seconds, the collective punishment in Kashmir is continuing unabated’.

Accusing the government of having ceased to function within the constitutional framework, she said such a situation could push yet another generation out of the democratic system in the state. “People's faith in the government has eroded completely and alienation has touched a new level”, she told a news conference at her Gupkar residence.

She said the government was increasingly becoming dependent on security forces and police for its survival. “Freedom of expression has been trampled and we do not seem to be like a part of a vibrant democracy”.

“Jails have been filled again. Opposition leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Mohammad Yaseen Malik, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Nayeem Ahmed Khan and scores of others are arrested or put under house arrest.  Many detenues have complained of failing health in jails. Nimaz is disallowed as a routine on Fridays”, she added.

She lambasted the state government for imposing inhuman curbs on people. “Social networking sites are under a constant scanner. The chief minister's latest remarks on the issue are a cause of alarm. Press is always tried to be gagged. Local TV channels continue to be prevented from airing news and current affairs programs. There are two sets of rules in the state’, she said.

She claimed that more than one thousand boys were picked up by police after the Afzal Guru hanging. “NC agents are acting as informers and many are arrested only to make money. New cases have been filed against hundreds of youth while the chief minister's earlier announcements of withdrawal of cases have turned out to be false. Youth generally framed in multiple cases so that they are arrested in another case if bailed out in one”, she alleged adding “This syndrome is now even taken note of by the SC in Masarat Alam case. But nothing has changed on ground for Kashmiri youth who continue to be targeted at home and outside the state. This repression has already pushed young boys like Atir Ahmed Dar of Sopore and reportedly many others to pick up arms again. Even the latest arrest of Liyaqat Shah in Delhi indicates that the industry to involve Kashmiri youth for rewards and medals is thriving. The Kashmiri youth have become a fodder for Congress BJP electoral politics”.

Mehbooba demanded that a white paper should be issued with regard to Kashmiri detainees incarcerated in various jails across the country.

“There is a large number of youth lodged in various jails of the country including the Tihar jail. Many of them are languishing for years. Government must come out with a white paper on them and their status of their cases. Legal aid should be provided to them by the state”.

She expressed concern over the failure of the rehabilitation policy for militants who had gone across the LoC. “The failure of the rehabilitation policy for militants who wanted to live a normal life has made it into another slogan. Government must come out with details of the youth who have applied for permission to return. Why are they forced to take the Nepal route if it is legal to cross over from designated points of entry?”, she asked. “There are instances in which parents have been kept hostage for their sons”, she added.

She said curfew had become a norm for the present government. “In its four years of disastrous government there is not a single year when peoples movement was not restricted enmass. Worst mass atrocities are being perpetrated through the so called non lethal crowd control methods. Pellet guns have permanently damaged at least 50 youth since they were introduced in 2010. Some have lost eyesight completely. Latest victims include Sajid r/o Sheeri Baramullah, Rafiqa Bano from Homshalibugh in Kulgam, Tahir Ahmed Gojri, Bramulla. ghulam Nabi Bhat, Lalpora Lolab”, she added..

She lashed out at the government for using ‘non lethal weapons’, which according to reports have inflicted deaths and serious injuries on people.

“Pepper gas is banned even in war. Though our country is a signatory to UN convention on the subject, Kashmir has been singled out for this barbaric treatment. At least 3 persons have been documented by human rights organisations to have died of pepper gas. They are Abdul Rashid Sheikh, 60, R/o Aali Kadal, Srinagar, Mohammad Yousuf Sofi, 45, R/o Batmaloo, Srinagar, Feb 20,  Hajra, 65 r/o Peer Haji Mohammad, Sarafkadal, Srinagar. The surviving victims are not able to even seek proper medical assistance because they are then booked by police as suspects”, she added.

“A sense of helplessness and disempowerment has seized the people which is a dangerous development. The state government is involved in its survival battle and it is significant that people no more expect anything from it. NC has a record of massive let downs. Between 1996 and 2002 it had an overwhelming majority in Assembly. Still it went into the lap of the NDA, extended AFSPA to Jammu and brought in POTA, gave away the most feasible hydel projects to NHPC. Now it is a drastically reduced political entity and entirely dependent on crutches and has become a perpetrator of worst crimes against people. The frustration among the people is understandable and it would only grow under this government that is interested only in personal fortunes of its leaders while the state suffers”, she alleged.

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