Mehbooba seeks removal of AFSPA from J&K, NE areas where militancy has reduced
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday said the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) should be removed in areas in the Northeast, where militancy-related violence has reduced, and also from J&K.
Speaking on Jammu and Kashmir politics, she said she was firm on her decision to not fight assembly elections herself till the Centre restored Article 370, but added that her party will contest polls so as to not cede democratic space to political adversaries in the region.
“AFSPA should be removed area wise where militancy has reduced. This can be a good start in northeast states and J&K. After all we live in a democracy and you can’t keep people together by using force,” said Mufti during a media interaction in Delhi on Tuesday.
Referring to the killing of at least 14 civilians in Nagaland by the Indian Army in a botched counter-insurgency operation, she tweeted on Monday, “Welcome the move to initiate action against armed forces responsible for gunning down 15 innocent civilians in Nagaland. In J&K such incidents are brushed under the carpet & families have to beg for the bodies of loved ones killed in fake encounters.”
Referring to the Centre’s decision to enhance the jurisdiction of Border Security Force (BSF) along international borders in four states including Punjab and West Bengal, Mufti said, “As they can’t fight in these areas politically so they are using the forces for that.”
Mufti accused the government of working with a colonial mindset. “J&K has become a laboratory. They started the testing for destroying the constitution with J&K by removing Article 370, then [through] NRC (National Register of Citizens) and CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act).”
She said that unlike the present NDA government, the one led by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee believed in dialogue and it was because of him that Pakistan agreed to find a solution through discussion after Kargil. “Unfortunately, Vajpayee ji ne Balakot nahi kiya. Nahi toh shayad ek term mil jata aur Jammu and Kashmir ki samasya ka samadhan bhi ho gaya hota. (Unfortunately, Vajpayee ji didn’t order for Balakot (air strike) else he would have won a second term and resolved the Kashmir issue),” she said.
With the delimitation exercise going on in J&K, Mufti said that it is being carried out with an agenda to benefit the BJP. “In certain regions, seats are being organised in a way so that there is a division of votes…it is going to benefit them.”
PDP chief said she won’t contest the elections but the party will definitely fight the assembly elections. “We want to occupy the democratic space in the state so that we will not allow them to have a free run. As far as I’m concerned, I won’t be fighting any elections till 370 and 35A are restored. I have made that very clear,” she said.
Mufti, who staged a protest at Jantar Mantar on Monday, said that the situation in J&K has deteriorated and people feel suffocated. She claimed that the Central government is propagating a false narrative that the situation in the region has improved.