BJP desecrated Constitution by abrogating Article 370: Mehbooba
Says people of Jammu upset as well
Jammu: Describing the Centre’s move to nullify Article 370 and bifurcate J&K into UTs last year as “desecration of the Constitution”, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Monday alleged that the BJP had put the erstwhile state on sale to “loot its resources” and deprive the locals of the protection to their land and jobs.
The former chief minister said they will continue the fight under the banner of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) for the restoration of the special status to Jammu and Kashmir, which was guaranteed by the Constitution.
“The people in Jammu are more upset and I feel the situation here is worse than in Kashmir. They were misled to believe that Article 370 and Article 35-A is a benefit to Kashmiri Muslims and its abrogation will pave the way for flowing of streams of milk, setting up of industries and jobs for the youth. Today, they are disappointed,” she told reporters here at the end of her five-day visit to Jammu — her first after being released from 14 months detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA).
The PDP leader said a cross-section of people, including industrialists, traders, youth, Schedule Caste, Schedule Tribe and Other Backward Classes met her over the past five days and expressed their concern over the future of their coming generations in the aftermath of the revocation of special status and the newly introduced land laws, wherein people from outside can buy land in the Union Territory.
“They (BJP-led government) have not only abrogated Article 370 but desecrated the Constitution. Mehbooba Mufti talks about the flag, whether of the erstwhile state or the tricolor, it has not come from the sky or China but was given to us by our Constitution which they have snatched from us,” she said.
She said the BJP has snatched the Constitution and the rights of the people and have put Jammu and Kashmir on sale.
“They have not even left the minor minerals which were also auctioned to outsiders, snatching the source of income of the poor labourers.”
“How long they will use the power of baton to silence the people…They are threatening to book under PSA anyone in Kashmir who speaks about Article 370 and in Jammu, anyone talking about it is termed as anti-national,” Mehbooba said.
She said the people of entire Jammu and Kashmir are feeling “suffocated”.
“I am not talking about Muslims but Hindus of Jammu as well who have come to meet me and expressed their concerns. Article 370 was the effort of (last Dogra ruler) Maharaja Hari Singh and NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah to ensure protection of culture and identity of the people, especially of Dogras.
“When we acceded to India, the accession was conditional and special status was part of it,” Mehbooba said, adding after the nullification of Article 370, the clouds of darkness have engulfed the region including Jammu and local residents are seeing their future bleak.
Accusing the BJP of peddling “false narrative”, she said J&K was prosperous as no farmer had ever committed suicide over failed crop and every resident was enjoying a roof over his head unlike outside the erstwhile state.
“We had heard that big industrialists will come to set up their units but what about the industries which we have. Are we able to provide them the required electricity?” she said accusing the BJP of trying to auction everything available in Jammu and Kashmir.
“They have already taken away water and electricity which runs factories in the country,” she said and also questioned BJP’s silence over the return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits.
Asked whether the alliance under the banner of PAGD, which also comprises several other mainstream opposition parties including the National Conference and the CPI(M), will jointly fight the Assembly polls whenever held, she said “election is not a big thing compared to the problem of J&K.”
“Elections will come and go and almighty knows the best. Today, we are fighting District Development Council (DDC) elections so that the anti-J&K forces who have divided and destroyed the erstwhile state and those who are supporting them in their divisive agenda are kept at bay,” she said.
Attacking BJP policies, asserting that “the party will meet the same fate as the outgoing US president Donald Trump.”
Days after the Bihar assembly exit polls predicted an edge for the Mahagathbandhan led by RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, the PDP chief said, “I want to congratulate Tejashwi who is a young man and has set a narrative with a focus on Roti, Kapda Aur Makan (bread, clothes and shelter).”
Soon after congratulating Yadav, she added, “The BJP raked up the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35-A and opening of J&K for the people across the country but it did not work for them as people are more concerned about their own bread and butter.”
‘Will hold tricolour and J&K flag together’
In a bid to put to rest the controversy surrounding her remarks about the tricolour, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Monday asserted that she will hold the tricolour and the flag of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir together.
As an MLA, Mufti said she had reaffirmed her faith in the J&K Constitution and the sovereignty and integrity of India as both are inseparable.
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister had last month said that she was not interested in contesting elections or holding the national flag till the constitutional changes enforced on August 05 last year were rolled back, sparking protests in Jammu.
“We are the people, especially in the Kashmir Valley, who upheld the tricolour high over the years at the cost of thousands of our workers who were martyred,” Mufti told reporters here at the end of her five-day visit to Jammu – her first after release from over one-year-long detention under the Pubic Safety Act (PSA).
Launching a scathing attack on the BJP, besides the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) without naming it, she said, “Those moving with half pants do not hoist the tricolour (at their headquarters) and they are giving us lessons on the national flag.”
She said her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed picked up the national flag when they were being dismissed as “insects of filthy drain” and subjected to social boycott.
“We, including the BJP members, have taken an oath (in the assembly and council) that we will affirm our faith in the Constitution of J&K and will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India. First, it was the J&K Constitution and then the sovereignty and integrity of the country. How is it, they cut one finger and leave the other, it is not right,” she said.
Asked whether she will hold the tricolour, Mufti said, “I had already replied that I have taken an oath of the J&K Constitution when I became the MLA for the first time and I affirm my faith to the Constitution of J&K and uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India – both of which are interlinked. J&K flag and Indian flag, I will hold both these flags together.”
Mufti also asserted that the dialogue with Pakistan and the stakeholders within J&K and opening of cross-border roads to bring the divided parts together can bring peace and everlasting solution to the problem.
Mehbooba said she wanted J&K to become a bridge of “peace and friendship” between India and its neighbours.
She made the assertion while advising the BJP to take a leaf out of former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee’s book.
The former chief minister warned that militancy is on the rise in the Valley with more youths preferring “militancy over going to jail” after “no middle path was left and voices of dissent silenced through the muzzle of power”.