J&K special status revocation only complicated issue, dialogue with Pak necessary: Mehbooba Mufti

BJP was using delimitation exercise to turn Jammu and Kashmir issue into a religious one, alleged PDP chief.
PDP President Mehbooba Mufti (C) along with party leaders during a press conference at party headquarters in Srinagar on Sunday February 13, 2022.
PDP President Mehbooba Mufti (C) along with party leaders during a press conference at party headquarters in Srinagar on Sunday February 13, 2022.Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Srinagar Feb 13: Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday said Jammu and Kashmir was a political issue and the revocation of the erstwhile state’s special status only “complicated it further”.

Mehbooba also alleged that the BJP was using the delimitation exercise to turn the Jammu and Kashmir issue into a religious one.

Addressing a press conference after the party’s political affairs committee meeting, Mehbooba said the situation in the union territory was “getting worse or was made worse” day-by-day and people were facing several difficulties since August 5, 2019, the day the Centre revoked Article 370.

“Attempts are being made to trample the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the guarantee provided by the Constitution of India. The Delimitation Commission’s report is part of that and nothing new. It is also an attempt to weaken the people,” she said.

Seeking a dialogue with Pakistan to “resolve the issue”, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said she would be labelled an anti-national, “Because whoever speaks against the BJP or its agenda or even (Nathuram) Godse, will be labelled anti-India.”

“But I will still say the Jammu and Kashmir issue is a political one and it has not gone away by revoking (Article) 370, but has been complicated further. The Government of India will have to talk to its neighbour Pakistan today or tomorrow or some other day to resolve the issue of and to stop the bloodshed,” she said.

However, she said, “The more violence or bloodshed in Jammu and Kashmir, the more it benefits the BJP.”

To a question that the Centre has categorically denied talking to Pakistan about Jammu and Kashmir and instead wants to talk about Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Mehbooba said, “First, they should talk about China making inroads to Ladakh day-by-day.”

“That is also a part of this Jammu and Kashmir and not of Pakistan. The ceasefire worked after India and Pakistan talked to each other. They are shying from accepting that they are talking to Pakistan…After all, their biggest leader (former prime minister) (A B) Vajpayee went to Pakistan, (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi went to Pakistan, so they will have to talk to them and there is no other alternative,” she said.

Speaking about the delimitation exercise, Mehbooba said, “They have tried to make the people of Jammu and Kashmir fight each other at the sectarian level, social level. Our struggle will be against this. Our political agenda is that Jammu and Kashmir is a political issue, but they want to make it a religious one. We have said it continuously that Jammu and Kashmir has been made a laboratory,” she said.

Lashing out at the Delimitation Commission, the PDP president said it did not follow a method in carving out new constituencies.

“They have done delimitation here, some area joined with the other, without any numbers. Somewhere, there is a constituency where there are one lakh votes, while in others, there are 1.75 lakh voters. There is no method. Now, they will repeat it across the country.

“Our country is not being run according to the Constitution, but according to the BJP’s agenda. But we are going to fight it tooth and nail. We will resist the cycle of destruction that they have started in Jammu and Kashmir. We are not going to give them an easy way to move forward,” she said.

Referring to the controversy surrounding Hijab, Mehbooba said it has been made a national issue because it is a symbol and an identity of a particular community.

“The issue (Hijab) is being used for Uttar Pradesh elections, but my apprehensions are that it is not going to stop at Hijab. They will attack our other symbols. They do not want that the Muslims in the country live as Indian Muslims…It is not enough for them if we remain as Indians, but they want us to be BJP wale,” she said.

Mehbooba said the country is being criticized internationally over the issue.

“But this will not continue forever. I think the people of the country are getting united and are understanding that our country used to hold its head high because of secularism and democracy. But now, in the name of Hijab, the whole country has been put in the dock…” she added.

Mehbooba said attempts were being made to destroy the Gupkar Alliance, the coming together of several mainstream political parties seeking the restoration of the erstwhile state’s special status, but said the fight will continue.

“We have created the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) and we will fight tooth and nail. We will struggle together. Attempts are being made to break the PAGD, by blackmailing or enticing some, but the alliance is the peoples’ last hope and we will keep it united and continue our struggle,” she said.

Asked if the alliance was still serving its purpose, she said had it not been the case, the BJP would not have put in its might “to break it”.

Asked about the resignation of PDP’s general secretary Ghulam Nabi Hanjura, the party president said such issues happen in “families” and that he has not left the party.

“He has been a great colleague – one who has stood with us in difficult circumstances. He has some problem which will be resolved and will be back with us soon,” Mehbooba said.

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