Srinagar: As authorities on Sunday disallowed the Youth Convention of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), citing COVID and security reasons, party president and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti reiterated that contesting elections was not her personal interest at the moment but she was in favor of holding youth-centric programmes to help them “come out of the problems”.
“Our workers were barred from entering Srinagar city on atleast 15 entry points. These are efforts to frustrate the youth and drag them into drugs and pick up stones and guns so that one becomes a soft target. My priority is not election. It is to help the people of Jammu and Kashmir especially youth come out of the problems they are surrounded by” said Mehbooba in a press conference at her residence.
Mufti said her party was “fighting a larger battle” and not bothered about the remarks made by some leaders of other political parties regarding PDP.
While explaining the sequence of events, that led to cancellation of the scheduled youth Convention on Sunday, Mufti said the authorities had sent across a letter, which the party could access only on Sunday morning. Mehbooba said citing of security reasons to not allow the Youth Convention was an “unacceptable excuse” adding “if a place like Gupkar Road was not safe which other place was safe then.”
“It was only after we saw on news channels that our event was not allowed that we noticed the letter in the received letters from authorities in the morning. Why is COVID only for PDP. BJP has a narrative of all is well in J&K and we feel anyone who challenges this narrative like us by telling people across the world that not everything is hunky dory in Jammu and Kashmir, we are targetted” said Mehbooba.
“We want to convey a message to those in Delhi and their representatives here that we want to get rights and identity of people of J&K back. We will keep continue our struggle without any compromise. How can the administration be so brazen. You make excuses of COVID and disallow us to hold an event while allowing other party programmes” said Mufti.
Mufti said PDP wanted to hold a gathering of its youth works, similar to rest of the political parties like National Conference, Apni Party etc who are holding campaigning but were stopped to do so.
“Some time back when COVID cases had witnessed a decrease, we had written to the authorities to let us hold a convention. The way NC, Apni Party has been holding party events, even we wanted a similar event. Mehbooba alleged that PDP’s youth workers who were trying to reach the venue of the convention at her residence “roughed up and even their clothes were torn”.
Mufti said the objective behind staging a peaceful protest in New Delhi recently was to send across a message to the entire country that “all was not well in Jammu and Kashmir”.
“ BJP and their cronies feel that they can hide the truth by presenting a different picture, not allow me travel to parts of south Kashmir etc. I wanted to visit the families of civilians killed but my space has been choked” said Mehbooba.
It may be mentioned that authorities on Sunday barred the PDP from holding a youth convention here citing COVID-19 restrictions. The convention of the youth wing of the party was scheduled to take place at the PDP president's 'Fairview' residence on Gupkar Road here.
However, all roads leading to the venue were sealed by the police and no movement was allowed on the road. Journalists were also barred from moving towards the venue.
A PDP spokesperson claimed that Mufti was placed under house arrest.
However, there was no official confirmation.
In an order, the Executive Magistrate, First Class, South Srinagar said in view of the report received from the Senior Superintendent of Police and in view of COVID-19 restrictions in place, it is hereby ordered that the scheduled youth conference that is to be held by PDP at Gupkar is hereby not allowed."
The magistrate directed the station house officer concerned to "ensure" that no such event takes place "without the permission of the competent authority."