Updated: September 2, 2021 4:38:41 am
FORMER JAMMU AND Kashmir Chief Minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti said there was been “no movement forward” since the all-party meet with the Prime Minister in New Delhi on June 24, and the exercise served no greater purpose than to “showcase this photo where everybody was in the same frame”.
In an interview to The Indian Express, Mufti said nothing has changed on the ground despite specific confidence building measures discussed at the meeting. “I had said… at least if you are able to release some people/ prisoners, that would help,” she said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, she claimed, had said a review committee under the Lieutenant Governor of J&K would be constituted. “Nothing really happened to our knowledge,” she said, noting there was no communication from the Raj Bhawan on any matter since then.
Pointing out that the possibility of any future meetings was not discussed in Delhi, Mufti said, “I think, both at the national and the international level, they wanted to show that they are trying to reach out, and showcase this photo where everybody was in the same frame — especially those two parties whom they have been calling all kinds of names,” she said.
Mufti said she did not not see the possibility of an Assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir soon. The Centre “would not want to loosen its grip on the decision making powers” it holds in the Union Territory currently. Without giving a time frame, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had two days ago said elections would be held as soon as the delimitation exercise was over.
Mufti also said the Chairpersons of the District Development Councils, set up in January this year “are being held in different places under the garb of security” and not allowed to move out in their areas.
When asked about criticism against People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) leaders they did not raise the issue of revocation of J&K’s special status in the meeting of Opposition parties on August 20, Mufti said, “Of course, I took it up… I told them this is Congress’s responsibility because they brought J&K into the fold of the Union of India.” There was not too much discussion on it since the meeting was focussed on statehood and release of prisoners and issues of the rest of the country, she said.
According to Mufti, concessions like Article 371, would perhaps not be “acceptable” to the people of J&K. “It is not just about jobs and land, it is about identity. It is also about the commitment of the whole country to the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.
Questioning the possibility of a ban on the different factions of Hurriyat Conference, Mufti underscored that nothing will change on the ground by banning things. “If the Hurriyat does not hold capital, why ban them? If you’re nobody, why jail them? Living in a democracy, how long can you suppress people, you can’t do that. You have to resort to reconciliation, dialogue, deliberation.”
With regard to her party’s decision not to attend consultations with the Delimitation Commission in July, Mufti said she had reservations since the commission was set up in a rush, and that “it seems that they already have a plan in their mind.”
The PAGD recently held its first convention of workers from the constituent parties last week. Mufti, who is the vice-president of the alliance, said these would be held in different districts to bring everyone on board. “The idea was that we are all together at the top but the same message needs to percolate to the workers at the grassroots,” she said.
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