Didn't allow BJP to ban JeI, crack down on Hurriyat: Mehbooba

Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti Wednesday claimed that she didn’t allow the Bharatiya Janata Party to ban Jamaat-e-Islami or crack down on the Hurriyat leaders during the PDP-BJP government in Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing a gathering of PDP workers here to kick-start her party’s campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Mehbooba said the BJP wanted to crack down on Jamaat-e-Islami and “suppress the separatist leadership through NIA raids”.

“However, our government did not allow the right-wing party to crack down on separatists,” she said.

Mehbooba, the president of the Peoples Democratic Party, claimed that the BJP wanted to carry out NIA raids on Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Geelani, and other separatists “but my party was against any such move”.

She said that it was during the government of National Conference-Congress in 2019 when the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was implemented and the NIA “spread its web” in Kashmir.

Mehbooba said she forced the BJP to have a ceasefire in Kashmir for at least a month “but militants didn’t respond to the ceasefire”.

“Militants were not supportive when I forced the BJP to have a ceasefire for a month. I wanted to have a dialogue with separatist leaders and even a parliamentary committee visited Kashmir in 2016 but they (separatists) shut their doors. Dineshwar Sharma was appointed as an interlocutor to have dialogue with the separatist leadership but they didn’t support it,” she said.

Mehbooba said that whenever the Lok Sabha elections are round the corner, Kashmiris “are made scapegoats”.

“In 2014, when the Congress party was in power at the Centre, they executed Afzal Guru to gain the sympathy of the people of India. Similarly, the BJP has launched a crackdown against the Hurriyat leaders and banned Jamaat-e-Islami, while the NIA has summoned Mirwaiz Umar Farooq”.

She said that PDP has always “stood for the honour and rights” of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“To bring the people out of this morass, (late) Mufti Muhammad Sayeed joined hands with the BJP in 2014,” the PDP president said.

“In the past, people gave a full mandate to regional parties, but in 2014 the PDP got 25 seats in Kashmir and the BJP got 25 in Jammu. The PDP had no other option but to join hands with the BJP. We thought the BJP would pick up the threads of peace talks from where the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had left. Mufti Sayeed burnt his hands by entering into an alliance with the BJP only to provide relief to the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Mehbooba said.

She said her father launched the PDP to “make Kashmir a bridge between India and Pakistan”.

She also said she would not have joined hands with the BJP after the demise of Sayeed but “was compelled to do so”.

“I was betrayed by my own people as some members of my party went to Nagpur to overthrow me and told the people there (in Nagpur) that they are ready to form the government with 18 legislative members in Jammu and Kashmir. These members asked the people in Nagpur to keep me aside and form the government,” she said.

Mehbooba said she joined hands with the BJP “only to stop these people, otherwise I had no intention to form the government”.

“Had these people formed the government, neither there would have been any agenda of alliance nor Article 35-A.”

Senior PDP leader and former MLA Bandipora Nizamuddin Bhat, Abdul Qayoom Wani, who is the PDP’s candidate for Baramulla Lok Sabha seat, and former cabinet minister Abdul Haq Khan, also spoke on the occasion and urged the workers to strengthen the party at grassroots and help it win the parliament elections.