'It wants people to know if you speak against Article 370, you show dissent, if you don’t agree with what we did, then we are going to detain you indefinitely, arbitrarily, and illegally, put you behind bars, humiliate you'
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija Mufti on Tuesday said it was not a coincidence that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was going to Ayodhya for the Ram temple ceremony on August 5.
Iltija Mufti, in an interview with The Hindu, claimed this was an attempt to “obfuscate the reality and entire fallout” of the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, which was done on the same day last year. “It covers up the huge colossal failure in J&K [Jammu and Kashmir],” she said. “The whole day the press is going to be focused on Ayodhya.”
On July 31, the Jammu and Kashmir administration extended Mehbooba Mufti’s detention under the Public Safety Act by three more months. The former chief minister is reportedly the only mainstream political leader of the region who is still detained under the stringent law, since the Centre stripped Jammu and Kashmir of special status under Article 370 of the Constitution, and split it into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Iltija Mufti claimed her mother’s detention was extended because the government wanted to make “an example of her”. “It wants people to know if you speak against Article 370, you show dissent, if you don’t agree with what we did, then we are going to detain you indefinitely, arbitrarily, and illegally, put you behind bars, humiliate you,” she said. “Also, it is aimed at creating a fear psychosis, which is prevalent for the past one year now, stronger.”
‘Forced to sign a bond to be silent’
She added that her mother was also told to sign a bond for her release on the condition that she remained silent on the developments in Jammu and Kashmir after August 5. “If you read the terms and conditions of the bond sheet, it sounds like we live in a dictatorship or an autocratic government,” Iltija Mufti said. “This bond was patently illegal.”
However, the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister refused to sign the bond, Iltija Mufti added. “They took her away, put pressure overtly, covertly...they orchestrated a split in the party, where [intelligence] agencies were used,” she said.
Mufti added that authorities had also blackmailed her about speaking to the media. “I used to get threats indirectly,” she said. “I was told if I keep talking, ‘we are going to slap PSA on your mother.’”
The mainstream political leadership of Jammu and Kashmir needs to understand the agenda of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Iltija Mufti said, adding that it “faces a crisis of credibility” in the region.
“Domicile rule is going to affect all of us,” she said. “This is a time of unprecedented crisis and the role for a leader is to show the way...The mainstream must realize it might exist for another election term but after that what is going to be the future of this place and their own parties?”
‘A grim, bleak picture’
The former chief minister’s daughter said that even a year after the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, the situation was grim. She claimed this was because the BJP’s idea of India included hatred against the minority communities.
Mufti called the saffron party’s idea of “Naya Kashmir [New Kashmir”] weird and warped, saying that it disempowered residents – mostly Muslims – of the region. However, she cautioned that once the situation crossed the tipping point, it will no longer be the same.
She also debunked the Centre’s claims that militancy has been waning in Jammu and Kashmir and that normalcy has been restored in the region. She questioned the reason Section 144, which bans the assembly of over four people, has been imposed if there is peace in the region. She asked the administration to let people be free and “see what they do.”