Srinagar: Former Chief Minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) head Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday said attempts are being made to defame the farmers’ agitation.
Mehbooba, who is on her first visit to winter capital of Jammu since the abrogation of Article 370, while expressing her support to the nation-wide protest by farmers, called for the immediate roll-back of the controversial laws.
“The farmers are afraid they will lose their land and everything which has resulted in the fear amongst them,” Mehbooba told reporters in Jammu.
She added that these laws have been enacted without the consent of farmers and are in “violation of the fundamental rights of the people.”
The PDP leader, who was incarcerated for over a year by the authorities ahead of the revocation of J&K’s special status, also pointed fingers at the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) alleging that the person who was involved in the Republic Day fiasco has close ties with the Right-wing party.
“The person who was involved in the Republic Day debacle is part of BJP and has been seen with Prime Minister and Home minister and was involved in the election campaign of Sunny Deol (actor turned BJP MP). It appears there is a conspiracy to defame farmers,” she said.
Farmers are agitating over the newly introduced agricultural laws, which they see as regressive and means to give corporates control over the farmers’ produce. The demonstrators and government have since been at the loggerheads over the issue.
The farmers have demanded that the government should rather implement Swaminathan Commission report, a committee set up in November 2004 to identify issues and their respective solutions related to them. Several farmers’ and labour organisations in Kashmir including the Jammu and Kashmir Kisan Tehreek (JKKT) and United Sikh Forum (USF) have expressed their support to the farmers and have demanded repealing of the contentious reforms being carried out by the BJP government.
A former ally of the BJP in a coalition government for three years which fell in 2018, Mehbooba has since been critical of the BJP and alleged a witch-hunt by the ruling party since her release last year. Key leaders in her party including Nayeem Akhtar, Peer Mansoor and Waheed ur Rahman Para are currently jailed. She is visiting Jammu to hold meeting with the workers and leaders of her party, which won a single seat in the region in the recently held District Development Council (DDC) polls. Her party, however, was contesting on a seat-sharing arrangement with co-constituents of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) – a group formed by the mainstream political parties to restore pre-August 5 position of the state and thwart BJP in the region.
While Mehbooba’s rhetoric against the BJP has not decreased due to which her influence, many believe, is waning within the PAGD. The amalgam hit the first roadblock after one of its key constituents the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference (JKPC) pulled out from the alliance earlier on January 19 on charges that the PAGD fielded proxies against its own candidates in the DDC polls.