Won’t hold tricolour till state flag is not returned to us: Mehbooba

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Srinagar: Ten days after her release from the 14-month detention, Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti on Friday said she will not raise the Indian tricolour till the flag of Jammu and Kashmir is returned. She was addressing her maiden press conference at her Gupkar Road residence after her release.

“Till the time our flag is not returned we will not raise any other flag,” said Mufti while responding to a question that prior to abrogation of Article 370, she had said that she won’t hold the Indian tri-colour if the special status of J&K was scrapped.

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Responding to a question whether she wants to contest elections as and when they take place, Mufti said personally she was “not interested in contesting any elections,” whether Jammu and Kashmir remains a Union Territory or is given statehood back. Mufti said PDP was “not power hungry” adding that for her “contesting polls without the state Constitution and state flag being returned” was out of question.

“As far as I am concerned, I have no interest in the election whether it is a UT or a state. Till the time the Constitution, under which I used to fight the elections, is not returned to us, I have got nothing to do with the elections,” Mufti said.

However, Mufti said the issues related to forthcoming District Development Councils (DDC) elections shall be discussed at the meeting of Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration on Saturday. She said whatever decision is taken by the alliance will be “done unanimously”.

“At the time of last panchayat polls, NC and PDP had jointly decided whether we would take part in it or not. Similarly, this time first we will discuss this (DDC polls) within the party and then on the level of Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration. Then only we all can come to some conclusion,” Mufti said. She said she was “not scared to be put in detention once again but will continue to show resistance.”

“This (restoration of Article 370) is a long battle for which we need to fight unitedly. If tomorrow leaders have to give the last drop of blood for this, Mehbooba Mufti will be the first one to stand for that,” Mufti said.

Responding to a question that why had PDP aligned with BJP to form a government in J&K, Mufti said this move by her father and PDP founder late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed was to “trap the djinn in the bottle”. “Mufti sahab had an option to go with NC and Congress but why he went with the BJP is because he wanted to capture the djinn in the bottle as he was aware that a storm will sweep the country election after election.”

Mufti said PDP always “stood like a wall” to safeguard Article 370. “Whatever was done (abrogation of Article 370) was done by the Parliament of India and not Jammu and Kashmir assembly. It was the Constitution of India which the Government of India desecrated and insulted. They misused the parliament to blow up the constitution into pieces. Till we were in power we stood like a wall to safeguard J&K’s special status and we even threatened to quit the alliance,” Mufti said. Mufti defended PDPs decision of joining hands with BJP in 2015 saying it was a “well thought move” but said she “regretted trusting Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” who later abrogated Article 370.

“Mufti sahab (Mufti Muhammad Sayeed) took three months to form the agenda of alliance and it was a well thought decision. Our party got majorly damaged due to it and we were almost razed but we still kept standing up for safeguarding the special status of Jammu and Kashmir,” Mufti said.

“The regret we have is that we kept our faith and trust in a PM (Modi) of a party which has a glorious past of Atal Behari Vajpayee. How did we know that they would blow up the Constitution into pieces when they have a brute majority. With this brute majority they misused the Parliament and robbed us of the special status,” Mufti said.

Mufti said her struggle was not only for restoration of Article 370 “ but towards a final resolution of the Kashmir issue.” “My struggle will not be restricted to restoration of Article 370 but it will go beyond that. It will be for the resolution of Kashmir problem and whatever role we have to play we will do that,” Mufti said. “They (GoI) cannot scare away a cat by being like a close eyed pigeon. The moment you shut eyes, the cat will eat you up and your foundation will come to an end,” Mufti said. When asked to respond to the comments of NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah that China can help to restore Article 370 in J&K, Mufti said, “China is quite critical of the abrogation of Article 370 and the Kashmir issue has come in an international view like never before.”

Mufti said the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019 “was a dacoity which was unconstitutional and illegal.” “They (GoI) swear by the Indian Constitution but they have blown up the same Constitution. They don’t have any powers to snatch away our special rights. The Indian Constitution has bestowed our constituent assembly that whether this (special status) needs to be kept or removed. Our constituent assembly had decided to continue with the special status,” Mufti said. “Something which has been snatched away through a dacoity sooner or later has to be returned and I can assure you of that. All the political parties will remain united how much we are suppressed by the centre,” Mufti said.

Mufti took a dig at very policy-level decisions of the central government such as bringing in the Citizen’s Amendment Act and the Farmers bill saying “BJP is trying to replace the Constitution of the country with its manifesto.” “They first polarised people and now have come out with anti-farmer bills and are snatching away rights of the downtrodden communities,” Mufti said. She said when BJP “runs short of agendas for seeking votes, they rake up the issue of Article 370 abrogation.”

“They don’t want us to even talk about restoration of Article 370 but when they have nothing to show any performance to seek votes, they tell people of India that you can buy land in J&K, making tall claims that Article 370 abrogation has made it possible,” Mufti said. “This government has run out of issues and now they are flogging the minority and flogging Kashmir. Dalits and Kashmiris have been demonised by this government with help of a section of national media,” Mufti said. She said people who “assume that we will forget the Kashmir issue and talk limited about Article 370 and only mention statehood are highly mistaken. Thousands of youth have laid down their lives for the Kashmir issue and now we won’t let the sacrifices go waste. Till now it was the blood of common people which filled the streets, I think now is the turn of the blood of leaders like us. We don’t want any violence but they want violence. They (GoI) have been provoking the people of J&K by implementing one after another rigid and unjustified laws in this place. Whether it is matter of Urdu language, domicile or presence of Muslim officers in civil secretariat being sidelined,” Mufti said. “They don’t want the people of Jammu and Kashmir. People of J&K are expendable for them. What they want is a territory,” Mufti said.

Mufti said abrogation of Article 370 “brought an end to the relationship between J&K and the rest of the country.” “Let me tell them that we are not comfortable and compatible with today’s India where minorities, Dalits are ignored and a dacoity is done in J&K to snatch away its rights and make an effort to humiliate us,” Mufti said. “Sooner or later they need to think that this country will run on the Constitution of the country and not on the manifesto of BJP,” Mufti said.

Asked about Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s refusal to talk with the delegation from the centre in 2016, Mehbooba said the refusal to meet the delegation led to the huge losses, adding, “It was not a delegation of BJP leaders. If Geelani sahab was not willing to talk, he should have at least allowed them to enter the house. But restricting their entry in the home has portrayed a different picture of Kashmir,” she said.