Jammu: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti Monday invoked the former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to defend her stand on the resolution of Kashmir issue and slammed the government’s decision of sacking Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin’s son from government service.
“I have said this again and again, you can capture a man but not an idea. You've to address the idea, as Vajpayee ji did. Witch-hunting, criminalisation of dissent is taking our nation back,” she said on the issue of sacking of Salahudin’s sons. Responding to media queries here at the party office, the PDP president also reiterated her stand to not contest elections until the restoration of Articles 370 and 35-A.
“Personally, the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A is a very emotional issue for me. I contested the first election taking oath under the constitutions of India and that of J&K state. I took both flags in my hands. Until both constitutions will not be there together, I will not personally contest elections,” she said.
The PDP president said that Article 370, 35 (A) and domicile laws were not given by a foreign country. “Even before the nation gave us these, the Maharaja had brought it to protect the identity of the people of J&K. When people decided to be part of India, he said that we have these laws that have to be upheld,” she said.
“Vajpayee used to say that we can change friends but not neighbours. If I say that then what crime have I committed?” she asked while replying to a query about her stand on talks with Pakistan on Kashmir. On why she was raking up the sub-judice issue of Article 370 and Article 35-A, her reply was, “When Ram temple issue was sub judice, didn't people still fight for it? Why am I being bashed for talking about restoration of Article 370?”
Mehbooba criticised the Jammu and Kashmir administration over its decision to sack sons of Syed Salahuddin from the government services saying, “You can't hold children responsible for the actions of their father until and unless you have proof against them. Not just them, 20-25 people have been sacked and that too without conducting an inquiry.” The Jammu and Kashmir administration had sacked 11 of its employees, including sons of the Hizbul Mujahideen chief and two from the Police department for allegedly working as overground workers for militant organisations on Saturday.
Replying to a question on becoming a chief minister in the event of its party coming to power following elections, she said, “PDP has several capable people and not just Mehbooba Mufti alone.”
She said that the Centre was disempowering people of J&K in the garb of pseudo nationalism by trampling the constitution that ought to be upheld. On the issue of PAGD, Mehbooba said, “The National Conference, the PDP and other parties have joined hands in the form of Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) for the restoration of Article 370 and 35-A.”
“The Gupkar alliance, which was formed on two main issues of abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A, has remained strong and united as aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir are attached to it,” she said.