The firebrand chief of an all-women Kashmiri separatist group, Asiya Andrabi, faced arrest after being named for unlawful activities in a police complaint on Wednesday as she and her supporters celebrated Pakistan Day in the Kashmir Valley this week.
Andrabi, head of the Dukhtaran-e-Millat, has been jailed several times in the past for anti-India activities. Still, she continues with her cause — Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to Pakistan and secession from India — much to the government’s discomfort. She spoke to Peerzada Ashiq after the recent controversy over celebrating Pakistan Day in the Valley. Excerpts:
HT: You have been booked for celebrating Pakistan Day. Will you repeat it in the future?
Andrabi: I have been doing it for the past 35 years. We distribute sweets on August 14 (Pakistan’s Independence Day) and unfurl flags on Pakistan National Day. The whole of Kashmir, in fact, does it. Check how many flags are unfurled here when Pakistan wins a cricket match.
HT: Why would you unfurl Pakistan flag on Indian territory?
Andrabi: Kashmir is a disputed territory. We contest it being Indian soil. It is no crime to unfurl the Pakistani flag on disputed territory. It would have been crime if I hoisted the flag in New Delhi or Mumbai. If it is being described as crime, I will repeat it till the Kashmir dispute is resolved.
HT: You face a severe charge and can be jailed.
Andrabi: I am facing a number of FIRs already. Let it be. But all I want to ask is why not book BJP leader VK Singh … he too celebrated Pakistan Day where the Pakistani national anthem was played and the Pakistani flag unfurled? And others, too. It has been a routine exercise to attend Pakistani functions. However, this government is trying to turn every event into a crime. Even the hullabaloo over (jailed separatist leader) Masarat Alam’s release is misplaced. The government wants to cow us down and don’t allow us to open our mouth. But it will not happen.
HT: You were booked by the state government and not the Centre?
Andrabi: Yes, we were booked by the same government that claims to resolve the Kashmir issue. (Chief minister) Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is being suggested by some to be one who wants to resolve the Kashmir issue. However, such moves will not help. Strangulation of separatist sentiments cannot pave the way to resolution of the problem.