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Elections no solution to J&K issue: Mufti

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Says LG should take responsibility for Hyderpora shootout

Srinagar: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday said elections have never been a solution to the Jammu and Kashmir issue, though they are important for addressing the basic needs of people and that her party is ready for the polls whenever they are held.

“Elections have never been a solution of J&K issue. Elections, whether they take place today or tomorrow, will keep on happening. While they are important for addressing the basic needs of the people, they (elections) are not my priority. Whenever they take place, we are ready for that,” Mufti told reporters in north Kashmir’s Kupwara.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief also accused the Centre of trying to divide the Muslim votes in Jammu and Kashmir by propping up new parties.

“The Centre is attempting to divide the majority community vote in J&K. The Congress is being split, people were taken out from the PDP, the NC and new parties were created. It is being done to disempower the people here, to reduce their power. But I am sure that the people of Kashmir are politically mature and they understand it,” she said.

Mufti has said several times in the past that she is not going to fight the assembly elections as her objective is to seek the restoration of Article 370 of the Constitution which was abrogated by the BJP-led government in August 2019.

She said farmers through their peaceful protest made Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeal the three contentious farm laws and expressed hope that a day will come when the Centre will restore Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 “along with interest”.

“Farmers protested peacefully for a year and secured their rights. Unfortunately, the people in J&K are not allowed to protest…. There is jungle raj. But this will not remain as such…. A day will come when they (Centre) will have to give us back not only (Articles) 370 & 35-A, but along with interest,” she said.

She said the people of Jammu and Kashmir will continue their struggle till the time the special status is restored.

“It took BJP 70 years to revoke (Article) 370, so we will also struggle, be it for 70 days or 70 months, for the restoration of our identity, for the promise made by the country to our people which was enshrined in the Constitution. We will continue our struggle until Articles 370 and 35-A are restored and Kashmir issue is settled,” she said.

The PDP president said even when there was tension between India and Pakistan, the countries were engaged in some dialogue process.

“The Kartarpur Corridor has been reopened, did they not talk to Pakistan? There has been ceasefire (along the Line of Control in J&K) for past few months, so were there no talks with Pakistan? The NSAs (of the countries) talk to each other in other countries. Pakistan’s NSA was recently invited for talks on Afghanistan.

“But when we say it (talk to Pakistan), they get irritated. The talks are going on and (former PM A B) Vajpayee, who was their tallest leader, also did it. Nothing will happen without dialogue,” she said.

Mufti also said Lieutenant Governor (LG) Manoj Sinha should take the responsibility for the Hyderpora shootout, in which civilians were killed.

“What happened (at Hyderpora) was very bad. The oppression has crossed the limits. And the LG should take the responsibility (for the shootout) as he is not only the head of the administration here, but also the representative of the Centre,” she told reporters.

The former chief minister said it is the LG’s duty to protect the lives and properties of the people of the Union Territory.

“At Hyderpora, three innocent civilians were killed and later, branded as OGWs (overground workers) and hybrid militants and the families had to beg for their bodies. And till now, the body of Amir Magray, who is from a poor family, has not been handed over to the family. His father has been awarded for killing a militant.

“This kind of atrocities will not improve the situation, but will rather deteriorate it further. Such incidents will further widen the distance between the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the country,” she said.

Mufti warned that if such incidents continue to take place, the situation will become very dangerous in Jammu and Kashmir.

She said Sinha should ensure that Magray’s body is handed over to his family.

“He (Sinha) is answerable to us as he is the representative of the Centre and whatever wrong happens here, he is responsible for that,” the PDP chief added.

Four persons were killed in an alleged encounter at Hyderpora here on Monday night. A controversy broke out as the families of three of those killed in the incident said their kin were innocent civilians. A magisterial probe has been ordered into the incident.

Mufti alleged that there is a “jungle raj” in Jammu and Kashmir.

“There is no government. Everything, including the right to speech, is being suppressed here. Kashmir has been turned into a big jail,” she said.

Meanwhile, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Saturday appealed the Prime Minister to take people of Kashmir into confidence and assure them that the incidents like Hyderpora won’t be repeated.

Addressing a press conference at PDP office here, party general secretary, Dr Mehboob Beig hoped that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not allow incidents like Hyderpora, in which innocent people lost their lives, to be repeated.

The PDP leader also demanded that the body of a third civilian (Amir Magray) whose father was awarded for killing a militant in the past be returned to his family for last rites.

“I appeal to the Prime Minister to kindly feel the pain of the people of Kashmir and come forward to heal their wounds. If our PM is committed to remove differences, then he has an opportunity to do so by taking people into confidence and assure them that such incidents won’t be repeated,” said Beig.

He also hoped that the Prime Minister would revoke the August 05, 2019 decision of abrogating special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, the way he revoked the controversial farm laws.

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