Cover Story Jammu & Kashmir The Lead

Our demand not statehood, but restoration of Art 370: Mehbooba Mufti

Kupwara, Feb 16: Former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti Tuesday said that their demand is not the restoration of statehood rather the position enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir before August 5, 2019.

Addressing the party workers, Mufti as per news agency said that the central government has barred them from reaching out to people.

She said that there is complete uncertainty among the people of J&K.

“Despite being a Muslim-dominated state, we didn’t go with Pakistan rather decided to remain with secular India. However, today people in Kashmir valley are very uncertain and fear they may lose their land to outsiders,” she said.

“When J&K joined hands with India there were some provisions of protection for this erstwhile state under the set provisions of Maharaja that include- no outsider can buy land here. A separate constitution (along with Indian),” she said. “We don’t have employment opportunities here other than government jobs and all the jobs  will be given to the youth of Jammu and Kashmir only.”

Mehbooba said that Kashmiris have always lived under the fear of bullets, be it from  Army, or from militants.

“It was only PDP that got a commoner out of the difficulties and not only this we managed to invite BJP’s senior-most leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee to J&K for the solution of Kashmir problem,” she said.

Referring to late Mufti Mohammad Syed, she said, that he initiated concrete steps for normalcy in J&K and batted for the resumption of trade links with Pakistan. 

“During Vajpayee’s visit to Kashmir Mufti Syed motivated him to bring back the forces deployed at the line of control (LoC) since people never enjoyed the luxury of marriage ceremonies within their homes fearing exchange of gunfire but it was ensured there is a ceasefire,” she said.

“We managed to hold talks with separatists and Pakistan but soon after Mufti Syed stepped down as chief minister, Congress party ruined the entire process that blemished the efforts put in by PDP,” Mehbooba said.

Mehbooba said that Mufti Syed was of the view to persuade Prime Minister Narendra Modi to work on the same roadmap prioritizing separate constitution, flag, and assembly on terms of discussion with Vajpayee. 

She said that her father even during his treatment thought that there is no alternative other than talks with Pakistan.

She maintained that in her two years term as a chief minister she quashed FIR against 12,000 youth.

“I brought the entire Indian leadership to hold talks with Hurriyat/ separatists, but they didn’t open their doors to them,” she said. 

Referring to the August 5, 2019 decision of the central government, she said, that all that happened in 2019 is unforgettable, “but we don’t have to pick a gun or stone.” 

“We have to raise our voice against everything but not to pick arms or stones since the farmers protest evoked international support without getting violent. People must not be worried much as the situation will change,” Mehbooba said.

The former CM said that thousands of youth have given their blood for this land and that won’t go in vain and hopelessness is a sin.

While praising the party workers, she said that the central government is hellbent to break PDP but she is enough strong and knows that J&K has done accession to India on some terms only, and all that snatched unconstitutionally has to be returned with interest.

“Whatever happened in Kashmir for the last two years is happening in India now and no one talked over the detention of political leaders in Kashmir in 2019,” she said.

“After the abrogation of article 370 domicile was implemented and a new retirement policy has been introduced. Outsiders engaged in mining while the people living in the forest are made to vacate,” Mehbooba added.

In a brief address to reporters as per KNO, Mehbooba Mufti said that “We don’t demand the restoration of statehood rather the position before August 5, 2019, and India must initiate talks with Pakistan along with the people of Kashmir  for the solution of Kashmir issue, that has left thousands dead and damage to the property with crores.”

To a question, she said that the Gupkar Alliance is the representation of people’s aspirations and it will continue until they want it to.  Mehbooba demanded an early release of all the detainees lodged across India and J&K including Er Rashid

 

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