People’s Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday drew similarities between protests in Egypt and Kashmir and saw dissimilarities in the handling of the protests by state authorities.
In the backdrop of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s stepping down on Friday in the face of sustained street protests, Mehbooba said at a press meet here: “I congratulate the people of Egypt for what they have achieved.
But at the same time I appreciate the army of Egypt. They protected their people during this crisis.” She added, “The people in Egypt were fighting for democracy and we are fighting in spite of democracy for the past 60 years.”
Citing differences in the Egyptian and Kashmiri leadership, she lashed out at the state government. “When people came out in Egypt, nobody accused them of being one or the other. But when people came out on roads here demanding justice, our own government labelled them as Lashkar-e-Toiba agents. Now, they are saying that the thousands of youngsters pelting stones on the roads are drug addicts. The leadership is maligning its own people,” she said.
The chief of Jammu and Kashmir’s main opposition party criticised the Centre for not acknowledging changing nature of protests in Kashmir. “After 9/11 there was a transition in Kashmir from bullet to ballot, but unfortunately, the Central leadership ignored that transition. That is the reason for what we witnessed in Kashmir in the last three years,” she said. Chief minister Omar Abdullah responded to Mehbooba’s comments on microblogging site Twitter. “She wants army rule in Kashmir as well since her party is in opposition,” he posted.
“Kashmir saw Egypt-like protests last year,” he added later.
Protest campaign from Feb 14
Mehbooba also said that the PDP would launch a protest campaign on February 14 to fight for the “Azadi” of people from government “repression” and freedom for people to travel and trade across South and central Asia through the traditional routes of Kashmir. She said the party would fight for lifting the “siege” over the traditional routes to restore the centrality of the state.