Mehbooba wants Jamaat ban lifted, leads protest in Anantnag

Former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday said her party would demonstrate in every Assembly segment of the state if the ban on Jamaat-i-Islami is not revoked and its imprisoned members not released.

She was speaking to media persons after leading a protest demonstration at Khanabal area of the town.

“The ban on Jamat, arresting its aged members even seventy to eighty-year-olds, closing down its offices, intending to even shut their educational institutes, besides detaining some maulvis, imams and religious leaders affiliated to Ahlihadith school of thought is nothing but sheer hooliganism. It is direct interference into our religious affairs. PDP won’t allow that, come what may,” said Mufti.

“My party would first start protests from district headquarters and then take it to every Assembly segment of the state,” she said.

Mufti asked the state government to come up with a chargesheet detailing the charges under which Jamaat members have been detained.

“People have right to know under which charge they have detained these religious leaders. What is their crime? It should come up with evidence rather than creating this atmosphere of fear,” she said.           `

The JeI, a socio-political-religious organisation, was banned last week by the Union home ministry on “opinions” that it is in “close touch with militant outfits and is supporting extremism and militancy”, supporting claims for “secession” and was also involved in “anti-national and subversive activities”.

PDP leaders Khurshid Aalam, Abdur Rehman Veeri, Ajaz Ahmad Mir Wachi, Rafi Ahmad Mir, Sartaj Madni, Waheed Parra and other leaders were accompanying the PDP president during the protest demonstration.

The workers of the party were carrying banners and shouting slogans, ‘stop state terrorism,’ ‘stop harassing Kashmiris’ and ‘stop interference in religious affairs’.

They tried to march towards deputy commissioner’s office at Lal Chowk (Anantnag) but were stopped by the police near district police lines Khanabal only.

Asked by media persons about the arrest of a number of Jamaat activists by her government during the 2016 uprising and afterwards, Mufti said, “No, I did not order any of the detentions though I was pressurised to do so. I resisted the move making it clear that I won’t do it without any concrete evidence against them (Jamaat).”

“In fact, that also became the reason for growing differences between us and our coalition partner BJP, as I was not in favor of any such a crackdown,” she said.

Mufti claimed it was her party that kept BJP “under check” during their stint in the government.

“We had tried our level best to keep BJP under check but after their pull out from the coalition they have gone beyond control. They have turned into that elephant that tramples everything that comes his way,” said Mufti, while citing examples of the harassment of youth, religious leaders, tension at the borders and “fiddling” with Article 35A.

Mufti also said that her party withdrew 14,000 FIRs against youth booked for stone pelting and convinced the Centre to announce one-month ceasefire.

Asked if her party favoured elections on scheduled time, Mufti said, “Election in this atmosphere of uncertainty and fear is a non-issue for us. This time our priority is to bring Jammu Kashmir out of this quagmire.”