A day after Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti sacked him as finance minister over a speech he had made, Haseeb Drabu said the speech was not against his party’s “stated political position of Kashmir”. He said he was not given a hearing and being informed through the media was “painful”.
Speaking at an event in New Delhi on March 9, Drabu had said, “Don’t see J&K as a conflict state and a political issue. It is a society which has social issues right now.”
On Tuesday, he said, “I tried to make the point that Kashmir was not only a political issue to be resolved by the nation state of India and successive governments at the Centre and state, but that there is a social issue that needs to be resolved at the level of the civil society. Those who heard my speech or care to read it dispassionately will know that when I was talking about our aspirations and the efforts at self-discovery, I was in fact nuancing the very stand of the PDP before a very select audience.”
Read | Who is Haseeb Drabu?
He said he was part of the group that formulated the PDP’s self-rule document, and added, “To the best of my understanding and knowledge, this in no way goes against the articulated and stated political position of PDP. Nor does it dent its image. It is, in fact, very much a part of the PDP’s political philosophy and agenda of reconciliation,” he said.
“Even as I issue this statement, I have no formal or even personal communication either from the government or from the party about my being dropped from the cabinet,” he said. “I stand informed by the media first as a speculation then as a fact… While I understand and accept the decision of the party, to take to media before talking to me, was painful.”
He described the events leading to his sacking. “On my return from Delhi [March 11], I saw a press statement of [PDP vice president] Sartaj Madni… asking me to retract the statement,” he said. “By evening a letter from A R Veeri, chairman of the disciplinary committee, was delivered at my residence. It asked me to explain my statement which ‘has caused a serious dent to the image of the party’.”
He said he got an appointment with Mehbooba only after he was sacked. “[On Monday morning], I spoke to Veeri Sahib and he suggested that I should talk to the party president and the chief minister. I called the CM residence in New Delhi and was told that CM was busy and would call me back in 10 minutes. That call never came,” Drabu said. “By early afternoon I called up the CM residence and sought an appointment. Even as I was waiting for it, it was reported on the website of the Daily Greater Kashmir that the CM had decided to drop me from the council of ministers and had written to the Governor… I finally got a call to meet the CM at 7.15 pm.”
He recalled his association with PDP founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, and said the relationship they shared is “my source of strength to endure this situation”.