Srinagar: Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti lashed out at the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir terming them as “deeply paranoid” after attempts were made to thwart her party workers at the congregation of his father’s death anniversary in Bijbehara on Friday.
“Meanwhile J&K police is hounding my party workers who dared to offer fatiha at his grave today. Outlawing & criminalising even a simple act of paying respect & tribute to one’s leader shows state administration’s deep paranoia & intolerance,” Mehbooba tweeted.
Scores of workers and leaders from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) today gathered outside the Dara Shikoh garden in Bijbehara where Mehbooba’s father and founder of PDP, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, is buried. The party workers led by Mehbooba wanted to offer Fatiha prayers and pay tribute to the Sayeed on his sixth death anniversary.
“A lot of workers were earlier stopped from visiting the grave by the police. It was raining and many left without offering the prayers in dismay,” a party leader told NewsClick.
Mehbooba, however, along with her party workers protested against the attempts to stop them and held a demonstration in the area. “We were later allowed to go inside after we raised hue and cry,” the party member said wishing anonymity.
Before she was allowed inside the park, Mehbooba raised slogans in the demonstration demanding the end of the bloodshed. She also raised slogans like “Jis Kashmir ko khoon se seencha! Woh Kashmir hamara hai!” (The Kashmir that has been drenched in our blood! It belongs to us, the Kashmiris)
“They are afraid of our party and they are afraid of lady despite being such a big country. Today was my father’s death anniversary and they are trying to stop us. They are so faint-hearted,” Mehbooba was quoted as saying.
Sayeed was one of the key founders of PDP, formed in the year 1999. A former congressman who also served as India’s union home minister in the VP Singh led cabinet between 1989 and 1990. He also served as the chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir in a PDP-INC coalition government between 2002-05 and again became J&K’s chief minister in 2015 after forming a coalition with Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) until his death in 2016.
His alliance with BJP, however, drew wide condemnation as many in the region blamed him for paving way for BJP’s entry into Kashmir, something that was considered as otherwise difficult for the right-wing party.
On his sixth death anniversary, leaders from all regional parties paid tributes to Sayeed, often known as a key advocate of dialogue with Pakistan to resolve the larger Kashmir dispute, with many recalling him as one of the most important mainstream politicians to have emerged in the restive region.
“It was a sheer pleasure working with Mufti sahib. Down to earth, simple and a great practitioner of statecraft. He indulged me. I was quite often at the receiving end of his gentle rebukes. Of course, all with the intentions of sharing his hard-earned learning curves,” People’s Conference leader Sajad Lone said in a statement. Sajad had served as Minister for Animal, Sheep Husbandry, Fisheries and Science & Technology during the PDP-BJP alliance under Sayeed.