Updated: December 13, 2021 5:47:46 am
The J&K administration on Sunday denied permission to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to hold a youth convention in Srinagar citing Covid-19 restrictions, prompting a sharp reaction from party chief Mehbooba Mufti who said new ways were being devised to “deprive people of their rights”. Party workers held protests at several locations in the city over the administration’s denial.
The event was scheduled to begin at 11 am at Mufti’s Gupkar Road residence. However, in an order, the executive magistrate, South Srinagar, stated that in view of a report received from the Senior Superintendent of Police and in view of Covid-19 restrictions, “it is hereby ordered that the scheduled youth convention by the PDP is not allowed.”
J&K Police also cited security concerns over holding the meeting at Gupkar Road – which houses high-security buildings of various organisations.
The incident comes a week after the National Conference (NC) held its youth convention in Srinagar, on the birth anniversary of former chief minister Sheikh Abdullah. party vice-president Omar Abdullah is also touring districts to hold workers’ meets.
They reason they have turned you away from my door is because they are petrified of your voice and what it can achieve. You were prevented from reaching me today but this makes us more determined to remain steadfast on our mission of peace with dignity.
— J&K PDP (@jkpdp) December 12, 2021
Speaking in a video message from the Gupkar Road meeting venue, Mufti said the convention was a means for her to speak to youngsters associated with the PDP and those efforts were “sabotaged” by the administration. “New ways are being sought to deprive young people of their rights. To keep them from democratic means and push them on a path of violence, so that it is easier for them (government) to manhandle youth and incarcerate them,” she added.
Police said in a statement that a gathering of at least 1,000 people was expected at the venue and it was not advisable to permit the event in view of Covid-19 restrictions. Citing intelligence inputs on the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), police said given the “larger security implications resulting from allowing such a large number of people and accompanying cars and vehicles into a high security zone, it was not advisable to allow…”
“Moreover, no official residence has been known to have hosted large political rallies on Gupkar Road in the recent past… The local administration had also advised PDP to apply for holding this convention in a more open area in view of Covid-19 and security reasons,” the police statement said.
In a press conference later at her residence, Mufti said, the party had made several attempts to seek permission for other venues from the district administration but “they never responded to us. Then we decided to hold it here.” She also denied police claims that conventions had not been held on Gupkar Road before. “… We have held several conventions here and with much larger attendance. A PAGD convention was also held at Farooq (Abdullah) sahab’s earlier. It is incorrect,” she said.
Meanwhile, the J&K People’s Conference has also raised objections over being denied permission to hold a meet in Kupwara. The party leadership stated that over the last ten days, PC had sought permission three times from the district administration, which was denied.
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