Talking about the option of challenging the charges under Public Safety Act (PSA) imposed on former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, her daughter Iltija Mufti said on Tuesday that she is losing faith in the country’s institutions.
She was addressing a press conference in the national capital where she spoke at length about the political and economic crisis that has plagued the erstwhile state Jammu and Kashmir since after the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.
People’s Democratic Party Chief Mehbooba Mufti, who remains lodged at a government guest-house-turned-jail in Srinagar since August 5, was recently booked under the draconian PSA as well.
When asked whether she’s mulling to petition the Supreme Court in this regard, Iltija said, “The country’s atmosphere is such that I feel like I have lost faith in the institutions. I feel like every institution is being subverted,” she said, adding that these include even the media. “I don’t blame the media as they are being arm-twisted by this government. So, when your faith is so shaken… Because the government is behaving like an autocrat or a despotic.”
On the possibility of Mufti’s party, PDP, contesting panchayat elections, Iltija said that even as she’s not an official member of the party, she finds the idea “ridiculous”. “If they’re conducting elections, it’s a sham. You have arrested the top leaders of two key political parties in the state.”
Earlier, the National Conference (NC) spokesperson, too, had slammed the government for conducting elections and had said that there is no point in taking part in the polls.
Attacking the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre for increasingly communal atmosphere across the country, Iltija said, “I feel that we’re becoming a Hindu Pakistan.” She questioned how a bunch of people, who have got a brute majority, can decide if she deserves to be an Indian. “This will not stop with me. First, they will say that Kashmiris are not good enough to be Indians. Then, they will say Muslims are not good enough to be Indians. Then they will start that conflict within Hindus; they will say dalits are not good enough to be Indians.”
Iltija asserted that the picture painted by the government of normalcy in the Valley is not real. “I have respect for the prime minister as everybody else should [have]. But I feel very sad that he is being misled or he is wilfully misleading the country. What rights do Kashmiris have right now?” she asked, adding that J&K is grappling with economic, psychological and emotional crisis amid an inhuman and crippling clampdown.
Referring to the deportation of the British MP and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir, Debbie Abrahams, on Monday, Iltija said, “I get that BJP wants support from a mass cadre. You want to increase your footprints; that’s fine. But don’t do it at the cost of country’s reputation!”
Iltija also acknowledged the anger Kashmiris have towards the Kashmiri political leaders. “When you talk about politicians being discredited, you are 200% right. I, too, see a lot of anger and resentment from Kashmiris—even on Twitter. But that’s not something that the rest of the country should be celebrating. Because they are saying, see, you sided with India. What did you get in return? You have been used and then discarded. [The resentment] is brewing because the sense of alienation that existed between them and the rest of the country has increased,” she said, adding that PPD and NC have been the buffer between the Kashmiris and the Centre. “But now you have removed that buffer. I will not say that they are not angry with my mother, but they are angrier with this country and this government.”
Apart from this, Iltija said that the role played by the women in countering fascism is important, and it is the need of the hour is to “reclaim our country”.