Criticising the ban on prepaid mobile connections in Jammu and Kashmir, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said it "casts a shadow of doubt" on the state's people who had enthusiastically participated in the elections. "We were expecting a compliment from New Delhi," she remarked.
Speaking at a media conference in the Indian Women's Press Corp in New Delhi, Mufti also said the central government "has to trust" the people of the state and compliment them on their participation in elections by demilitarising the state.
"There is a trust deficit. The Indian government shouldn't distrust Kashmiris," Mufti said.
"This (the ban) is ironical. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram were claiming that Kashmir (situation) is improving fast. Then the ban contradicts their assessment," said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president.
The woman politician, known for her fiery speeches, said some Indian states were affected by Maoist insurgency where "we have grave security situation, people are killed but no such restrictions are imposed".
"Then why Kashmir?" she asked.
The union home ministry has asked service providers to withdraw prepaid mobile phone facilities in Jammu and Kashmir, following reports that it was being misused by separatist guerrillas and had serious security implications.
"The decision casts a shadow of doubt on the entire 1.20 million population of the state," she said, adding "We were expecting a compliment from New Delhi for our 65 voting percentage" in the assembly elections last winter.
"This distrust has to go," she said. "And the government of India should compliment our participation in the democratic process by starting demilitarisation in the state and revocation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and other draconian laws."
"This is an opportune time," she said, adding that Pakistan was battling its own problems and was no longer in a position to take advantage of peace building measures in the state.
"Peace," she said, "is returning to the Valley and we should give peace a chance."
Mufti also welcomed the central government's "quiet diplomacy" initiative to resolve problems in Kashmir but advocated that the dialogue should be "inclusive".
"Make it an inclusive. Invite hardliners like Geelani Sahib (hawkish separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani). We need to include all shades of opinion," she said.