‘Elections not a solution, Kashmir needs healing’

Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti says elections in J&K are neither a priority for her party nor a solution to the Kashmir issue. The former Chief Minister refuses to contest elections until the special status of Jammu and Kashmir is restored. For this, she says her struggle will continue “through peaceful and democratic means”.

In an email interview with Aditi Tandon of The Tribune, the former Chief Minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir says the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration will stabilise and its “teething problems will end”. Excerpts:

The Central government has said statehood to J&K will be restored at an appropriate time.

Nothing it has said till now has been grounded in facts and can be further from the truth. After heaping one humiliation after the other and disempowering the people of J&K, it wants to ensure that the iron-fisted approach continues and that is possible only as long as J&K remains a UT. It seems that the appropriate time in its dictionary will be when its agenda of changing the demography and reducing Kashmiris to second class citizens will be fulfilled.

The delimitation exercise is on. Will you participate in the meetings?

I don’t want to get into a hypothetical situation. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

The Delimitation Commission has already started deliberating.

I said hypothetical since we haven’t been invited to participate. Once the invite comes, our party will take a decision.

People’s Conference chief Sajjad Lone recently quit the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration. The group is already looking disunited.

Whenever different parties come together for a common cause, there are always teething problems. I am sure things will stabilise.

The government has said Article 370 won’t be restored. What are your options to get your demand accepted?

Something that has been guaranteed by the Indian Constitution cannot be removed or violated as per any political party’s agenda or whims and fancies. We will continue to fight for it through democratic and peaceful means.

Will you contest the next Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir?

I will contest the elections only once our special status is restored. As far as campaigning is concerned, I will take a call when the time comes. My party will participate but I will dedicate myself to the larger cause of the Kashmir issue.

Will the PAGD contest the Assembly polls? If so, who will lead the alliance which has three former CMs, including you, Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah?

J&K is going through a very turbulent and perhaps the darkest period in its history. For the past two years, people have suffered and continue to suffer on all fronts. Election is not the priority nor has it been a solution to the Kashmir problem which is a festering wound that needs healing. We will take a decision through consultations when the time comes.

How do you see the post-DDC election phase in Jammu & Kashmir?

Nothing has changed on the ground except there was a lot of horse-trading done in elections for the DDC chairmen. Those elected are still fighting to be empowered, as promised.

The Enforcement Directorate is probing your assets.

The matter is sub judice. Having said that, I have nothing to hide or fear.

Courtesy: The Tribune

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