Srinagar: Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti on Friday described the “struggle for the restoration of Article 370” and “resolution of Kashmir issue” as a long-drawn fight and pledged that she will not raise any flag till the flag of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir is returned.
In her first media interaction in over 14 months after the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year and her subsequent detention, the former Chief Minister lashed out at the BJP for desecrating the Constitution and “looting” the dignity of the people by revoking its special status.
“We had acceded to a liberal, democratic, secular India. Let me tell them we are not comfortable, we are incompatible with today’s India where minorities and Dalits are not safe and where they tried to disrespect us by looting our dignity. They will have to think, if not today, then tomorrow, that this country will run on India’s Constitution and not on the BJP’s manifesto,” she said.
The PDP chief said the BJP-led government had nothing to show and rake up except for Kashmir and Article 370 to seek votes.
“PM Modi had to talk about Article 370 today to seek votes. We should understand that this government has failed to address the issues of the country, be it economy, employment or anything else. When they fail in these issues, they are flogging minorities, they are flogging Kashmir.
“They have demonised Kashmiris, Muslims and even Dalits for that matter in the media and when they fail at anything, they remember Kashmir and Article 370,” she alleged.
Mehbooba rued that the opposition parties in the country, except a few, went silent on the issue thinking this happened in Kashmir and not with them.
She hit out at the BJP, saying the party has “demolished” the country’s Constitution and wants to replace it with its manifesto.
“But then, the BJP demolished the same Constitution, the BJP passed the Citizenship Amendment Act and polarised the people. Then made an anti-farmer law and now, I think they will steal the rights of the downtrodden communities like Dalits,” she said.
“They want to replace the country’s Constitution with the BJP’s manifesto, but this will not work. So many people like Pharaoh and Hitler came, but this dictatorship will not work,” the former chief minister said.
Mufti said the BJP does not want the people of Jammu and Kashmir and is only after its “territory”.
“The people of Jammu and Kashmir are expendable for them, what they want is the territory. They had this territory rightfully till August 5, 2019, but then they broke a relation by virtue of which we had entered into an accession with them,” she said.
When asked whether the PDP was responsible for giving power to the BJP by way of an alliance with them after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, she said Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was not revoked by the assembly or the Jammu and Kashmir government, but Parliament.
“If there has to be a regret, it should be that we kept our faith and trust in a PM of the same party to which (former PM A B) Vajpayee belonged to. We trusted that he would not desecrate the Constitution. Who knew he would do that when he had the brute majority. But unfortunately, he misused the Constitution and looted something over which they had no right,” Mufti alleged.
Mehbooba, who had the erstwhile J&K state’s flag in front of her during her press conference, said she wouldn’t contest polls as long as the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir was not restored.
She said the fight for the restoration of J-K’s special status would continue by using all peaceful means necessary.
“Our people should not get discouraged, nothing is impossible. Not only what was taken away from us will be returned to us, but also God willing, they will come to our feet and ask Kashmiris what else they want. This is a political fight which we will fight in a peaceful manner and I want people’s support,” Mufti said.
She said the government shouldn’t construe that in this fight to restore Article 370, political parties would forget the Kashmir issue. She said Kashmir is an issue and if New Delhi thinks it is not an issue, “the issue will eat you up”.
She said if some people in Delhi think that political parties and Kashmiris would forget Kashmir issue and Article 370 after some time they are living in a dream world. She said thousands of people have given sacrifices for the Kashmir issue and people have given blood for it. “Now it is the turn of the leaders to give blood,” she said. However, she hastily added, “we don’t want any violence.”
Asked whether separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s refusal to meet members of the all-party delegation in 2016 after months of violence in the wake of killing of militant commander Burhan Wani, she said it was a loss of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“It was a huge loss as the delegation was not of the BJP, but an all-party delegation. We should have at least offered them tea even if we did not talk to them. The whole country was watching and it spoiled our image. I think it was our loss that we did not do what we could have done. It was our loss only and not of the BJP or the country,” she said.
Mufti refused to answer who had come to meet her while she was under detention.
“Some things are left unsaid, but need to be understood,” she said.
“There is nothing to guess about it,” Mufti said in her reply to a question whether she was asked to sign a bond to not speak about Article 370 if she was released.
Asked about National Conference president Farooq Abdullah’s remarks on China, she said it was a reality that China was talking about India’s “unilateral decision” of abrogation of Article 370 provisions.
“It is a reality that China has grabbed 1,000 km of Indian territory out of which they have returned only about 40 km after India pleaded with them. It is also a reality that China is talking about Article 370, saying this is disputed and why have you done this unilaterally.
“So, you cannot deny it, it is a fact. The fact is that Jammu and Kashmir had never come into such an international view before abrogation of Article 370. These are all realities and you cannot deny them,” she said.
Mufti also expressed gratitude to the NC chief and other leaders.
“In August last year, when we had apprehensions that something was going to happen, I requested Farooq sahib as he is our tallest leader here to call an all-party meet. We met and came out with the Gupkar declaration,” she said.
Mufti also saluted IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan who quit the elite service last year “over denial of freedom to the people of J-K”.
‘Won’t Raise Tricolor Till J&K’s Flag, Constitution Is Returned’
Mufti pledged on Friday that she will not raise any flag till the flag of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir is returned
Mufti said personally she was not interested in contesting polls till the erstwhile state’s flag and constitution were restored.
“As far as the PDP is concerned, now we are not alone. If you remember, we, along with the NC, had taken a united stand before the commencement of panchayat polls (in 2018) that we will not participate in them. This time also, we will discuss it in the party, with our workers, and then discuss it in the People’s Alliance (for the Gupkar Declaration). Whatever decision we take there, will be bound on everyone,” she said.
However, the former chief minister said on the personal front, she had no interest in contesting any elections till the erstwhile state’s flag and its constitution was restored.
“As far as I am concerned, I have no interest in elections. Till the time the constitution, under which I used to contest elections, was returned to us, Mehbooba Mufti has got nothing to do with elections, let me tell you that,” she said.
Mufti said she was not for power even if the union territory was upgraded to a state.
“I am no more for power be it a union territory or even a state. I was never for power. If I had any greed for power, we would not have left the Congress and created the PDP. We are not only for power. We could have made the government with the Congress (after 2014 polls), but we entered into an alliance with the BJP for a reason,” she said.
“Our relationship with our national flag is not independent of the flag of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. When we get that flag, we will raise the Indian flag as well,” she added.
The PDP President further said that till the time “we get back the flag that was robbed from us, we will not raise any other flag”.
When asked about whether her party and the Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration will contest the District Development Councils (DDCs), she said a meeting of the alliance was being held on Saturday where these issues will also be discussed apart from the general situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
However, when inquired further if not contesting those polls will be like conceding the space to the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mufti said it was a hypothetical question.
“You are discussing everything hypothetically. The alliance will sit and discuss it. It is not about the BJP, it is about the BJP and its cronies. Because, people have to survive and God forbid, it should not happen that they (people) will come into the hands of those where they will be kicked out.
“So, we will take a decision keeping in mind all the pros and cons. Farooq (Abdullah) sahib is our leader, so we will take the right decision after everyone gives their opinion,” she said.
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