JAMMU, Sept 13: Accusing the BJP of turning Jammu and Kashmir into a prison, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday said her party’s self-rule formula has the potential to resolve the issue of Jammu and Kashmir without compromising the sovereignty of India and Pakistan.
The former chief minister also said that her party would take a decision on pre-poll alliance only after the bugle for the assembly elections is sounded as she insisted that their coalition under Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) was meant for restoration of Article 370.
Addressing a press conference here after felicitating newly appointed general secretary Abdul Rashid Malik and provincial youth president and coordinator of all frontal organisations Parvez Waffa, she said the self-rule started the day former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee opened Muzaffarabad-Uri and Rawalakot-Poonch cross-LoC routes.
Billed as the biggest confidence-building measure, the bus service was started on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad route in Kashmir in April 2005 and the Poonch-Rawalakot route in the Jammu region on June 20, 2006 to facilitate divided families on either side of the LoC to meet each other. The cross-LoC trade between the two sides started in October 2008.
However, the cross-LoC trade and bus service remained suspended since April 2019 after India cited misuse of the trade routes by Pakistan-based elements for supplying weapons, fake currency and narcotics.
“Nobody can stop the self-rule…if you want to resolve the issue of J&K under the constitutional framework, self-rule is the only option which can find a solution to the issue without changing the boundaries or compromising the integrity of both India and Pakistan,” Mehbooba said.
Defending her father and former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s decision to form a government with the BJP which ultimately collapsed in 2018, Mehbooba said he had not become a supporter of the BJP but joined hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wishing that he would tread the path that Vajpayee had shown to resolve the J&K problem.
“He took a decision keeping in view the prevailing situation, the mandate of the people, Vajpayee’s record and the need for dialogue for resolution of the J&K problem. Mufti thought for the people of Jammu who have voted in favour of BJP and cannot be sidelined,” she said.
The PDP leader said Mufti had spent a lot of time in Jammu and always desired to see Jammu and Kashmir united.
“I am regularly visiting Jammu to meet the public and expose the BJP which is out to divide people on the basis of religion. We are secular and if you want to see any biggest secular place it is Jammu where all faiths live together. Kashmir was once known for its secularism but unfortunately that atmosphere is not there at present,” she said.
On the next assembly elections, she said only Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and their industrialist friends know about the timing of the elections.
Asked about the possibility of forming a third front against the BJP, she said, “We have a coalition under the banner of PAGD (with National Conference, CPI(M), CPI and Awami National Conference) and we have not done this for elections. The alliance is for restoration of Article 370 and Article 35A.”
However, Mehbooba was quick to add that any electoral alliance within the amalgam can be decided when the poll bugle is sounded.
She alleged that the BJP had turned Jammu and Kashmir into a prison. “Dozens of persons have been jailed under the UA(P)A and many had to visit police stations.
“Everyone is being kept under surveillance and they are claiming that everything is alright. They say that stone pelting has ended, do stone pelting expected in a jail,” Mehbooba said.
Asked about his reaction to the statement of veteran politician and former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Article 370, she said, “Nothing is impossible…those who are today distributing certificates of nationalism were the same who were not in favour of fighting the British rule but India got freedom because people like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, B R Ambedkar and Sir Syed (Ahmad) Khan were determined in their fight for independence.”
At his maiden rally in Kashmir after quitting the Congress last month, Azad had on Sunday slammed those promising the restoration of Article 370, saying it was not in their hands and that he would not mislead people over the issue.
“He (Azad) has his own opinion…there are some people who have accepted the BJP narrative,” she said.
Mehbooba said he might not have come across the developments in Nagaland where the BJP is having dialogue with the same group which was responsible for blowing up an army vehicle carrying 18 personnel and is contemplating accepting their demand for a separate constitution and a flag. (PTI)