Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti Sunday said that elections were not the solution to the “Kashmir problem” and the Indian government needs to hold a dialogue with the people of the region and Pakistan.
Speaking at a press conference in Srinagar, Mufti added that the problem in Kashmir will persist as long as there are nine lakh soldiers posted in the union territory.
Mufti’s comments came a day after the first phase of the maiden District Development Council (DDC) polls were concluded Saturday, which recorded a voter turnout of nearly 52 per cent.
“In the past, the polling percentage has been higher than this (DDC polls) but it is no solution to the Kashmir problem. Kashmir problem is still there as long as there are nine lakh soldiers in our state. Which state of India has so many soldiers that too in civilian areas. Which state of India has so many check points?” she asked.
She added: “In an election, how many people participate and how many don’t has nothing to do with the Kashmir issue. Kashmir issue is going to be there as long as there is no resolution through a dialogue with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and with Pakistan.”
Mufti also spoke about PDP leader Waheed Para who was arrested by the National Investigation Agency on 25 November in a case related to suspended Jammu and Kashmir police officer Davinder Singh, who is under the lens for alleged links to militants.
She noted that Para was arrested just after filing his nomination for the DDC polls.
“Waheed Para is an ardent advocate of dialogue, reconciliation and democracy. He decided to file his nomination for the DDC polls despite being detained for 14 months because of democracy and the next day he got a call from NIA. So election is no solution to any problem. But I am happy that people are expressing that they are voting so that India and Pakistan can talk,” she said.
BJP govt muzzling democracy
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief also launched a scathing attack on the Narendra Modi government for muzzling democracy in the county, stating that they had “made a mockery of democracy”.
“Black laws prevail in the country and the weapon which they use is UAPA. Muslims are being called Pakistani. Sardars are called Khalistani. Activists are called Urban Naxals. Kashmiris are called terrorists. The students are called tukde-tukde gang. Women who protest are called anti-national. If everyone is a Khalistani, Pakistani and anti-national, who is India? Only BJP?”
She also talked about detained activist Stan Swamy, 83, who was not allowed to use a sipper and straw, despite suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.
“They are arresting people under UAPA despite having no evidence. There is no bail, only jail,” said Mufti.
In the press conference, Mufti talked about J&K’s Roshni Act as well.
The Jammu and Kashmir government had cancelled all land transfers that took place under the Roshni Act, under which 20 lakh kanals or 2.5 lakh acres of land was to be transferred to the existing occupants on 1 November.
“The Roshni scheme was a law passed during the time of the National Conference and implemented during the time of (Ghulam Nabi) Azad sahab. It was a law, it was made by our assembly If anyone legalised their land in that law, how is it a scam? If they think rich people have taken a lot of land, go after that. Why are they going after poor people who have 2 marla, 5 marla land?,” she noted.
Mufti also talked about how she had been told “directly and indirectly” not to talk about Article 370.
“Why do they get rattled by what I say when their own leaders talk about Article 370. They want to go after me because I raise my voice. They want to get to me. They want to ban my party,” she said.