The PDP and National Conference on Friday criticised the Centre’s decision to ban Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir, saying it is against the essence of democracy which allows space to opposing political thoughts.
Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti termed the decision as another example of “muscular approach” of the Centre to deal with the political issue and wondered if “being anti-BJP” is “anti national now”.
“Democracy is a battle of ideas. Crackdown followed by banning of Jammat Islami (JK) is condemnable, another example of high handedness and muscular approach of GOI to deal with political issue of J&k,” the former chief minister said in a tweet.
The Centre on Thursday banned the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir for five years under anti-terror law on grounds that it was “in close touch” with militant outfits and is expected to “escalate secessionist movement” in the state.
A notification, banning the group under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs after a high-level meeting on security, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mehbooba, who led a coalition government with the BJP from April 2016 to June 2018, tweeted, “Why is GoI so uncomfortable with Jamaat e Islami? Radicalised Hindu groups representing fringe elements are given carte blanche to spread misinformation & vitiate the atmosphere.
“But an org that has worked tirelessly for Kashmiris is banned. Is being anti BJP anti national now (sic)?”
National Conference general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar expressed dismay over the Centre’s decision, saying it will impede the process of reconciliation in the state, and demanded that the ban be rescinded.
“By ideologies, we mean a specific mind set. It has be tackled by arguments. By banning JeI, the government will achieve nothing but give it a dissident glamour. The move will not help; it will rather impede the process of reconciliation and rapprochement in our state,” he said.
Sagar said it does not augur well for a democracy like India to ban socio-political outfits.
“The government could have used a platform of arguments in dealing with the dissent. Suppression will inevitably breed radicalization,” he said and asked the Centre to roll back the decision in the greater good of the country.
Peoples Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone, a former ally of the BJP, also opposed the ban, terming it against ethos, ideals and essence of a vibrant democracy.
Lone advocated an early revocation of this “unfair ban”.
“True test of democracy lies in allowing space to opposing political thoughts and ideologies rather than putting a cage around people with a certain political orientation,” he said.
The former minister appreciated Jamaat’s contribution in social and political spheres.
“In a vibrant democracy ideas have to be fought not banned. This organisation has given us illustrious leaders and legislators,” he said.
The group has been banned for five years. It has to be ratified by a tribunal constituted by the Home Ministry.
The outfit, which was formed in 1945 as a chapter of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and separated in 1953 due to differences over political ideology with the parent body, was banned in 1990.
The previous ban lapsed in 1995 and since then it has never been invoked again.
The Jamaat, with pro-Pakistan leaning during the Plebiscite Front days and also during the eruption of militancy, pitches itself as socio-religious organisation working mainly in the field of education and awareness about Islam.
According to officials, the Jamaat-e-lslami was responsible for the creation of the state’s biggest terror group Hizbul-Mujahideen and the brain behind the formation of the Hurriyat Conference.
The Hurriyat, a conglomerate of separatists and “terrorist leanings”, has been ideologically supporting Pakistan-sponsored violent terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, an official said.
The Jel (J&K) leaders have all along been challenging the accession of Jammu and Kashmir with the Union of India which makes its secessionist objective amply evident, according to the official.