Contesting DDC polls only way to stand up to BJP, its proxies: Mehbooba Mufti

PDP chief accuses Centre of harassing and intimidating Kashmiris, says Gupkar alliance is just the beginning of a campaign to restore the special status of Valley

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti was released in October after being detained for 14 months. File photo. PTI

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba, has said that boycotting the District Development Council (DDC) polls would have left the “field open for BJP and its proxies”.

Mufti’s party is a part of the People’s Alliance of Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a collective of regional parties which has demanded a repeal of the abrogation of Article 370.

In an interview to Indian Express, Mufti said the formation of PAGD is just the beginning of a campaign to restore the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

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Defending the collective’s decision to contest the DDC polls, the first elections since the abrogation of Article 370 last year, Mufti said, “What was the other option? To leave the field open for the BJP and its proxies and be labelled as Pakistani agents. A boycott would have only helped them spread their tentacles deeper into the system here, already controlled by an administration subservient to Delhi’s whims and fancies.”

Related news: Detained again, alleges Mehbooba Mufti; says daughter under house arrest

The former chief minister recently accused the Centre of curbing her movement when she tried to meet the family of arrested PDP youth leader Waheed ur Rehman Para, who had filed nomination for the DDC polls.

She said it was important that the PAGD fights for its rights to campaign for the DDC polls.

“The only way to deal with bullies is by standing up to them…Every excuse under the sun is used to curb my movements. Tonight, I received a letter from J&K Police citing security issues once again to defer my trip to Budgam until elections are over. If security is such a hassle, how are the top tier of BJP leaders and their proxies allowed to move around freely within Kashmir?” she said.

She also accused the Centre of using the NIA and Enforcement Directorate to “intimidate” Kashmiris and stifling dissent.

“Initially the Government of India’s diabolical narrative was confined to pinning the blame on mainstream parties for every problem that ails Jammu and Kashmir…But now they are harassing and intimidating every section of the society, be it businessmen, journalists or social activists. The idea is to stifle and choke all outlets of dissent and render people economically and emotionally vulnerable,” she told IE.

Mufti had levelled a similar accusation when Waheed was arrested by NIA on terror charges last month, just days ahead of the DDC polls. The PDP chief told IE that the youth wing president was arrested as he had turned down the BJP’s offer to join the party or its proxies.

“Despite being detained illegally for more than a year, he still placed his faith in democracy and decided to fight the DDC elections. His subsequent arrest reeks of political vendetta and is being used to strike fear in youth in the valley,” she said.

Speaking about the changes in the domicile law and eviction of Gujjars, Mufti said all the Centre is interested in to change the religious composition of the valley and make Muslims a minority in a “Muslim-majority state”.

“Our fears of demographic changes have never been exaggerated or misplaced. All the disruptive policies and actions are in full swing — be it domicile law, eviction of Gujjars, cancellation of lease of local hoteliers or outsourcing of natural resources like sand and stone. All these substantiate their motives to disempower locals and gradually ensure that outsiders outnumber the locals.”

Related news: Will raise India flag only with ‘flag of Kashmir’: Mehbooba Mufti

Mufti who was released in October this year after spending 14 months in detention said the one lesson she learnt in the past two years was that “one must not take their rights and personal liberties for granted,” adding that India, the world’s largest democracy may be heading towards a dictatorial regime.

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