Flanked by three senior party leaders, the PDP president placed the party flag and the flag of the former state on a table in front of her.(PTI)
Flanked by three senior party leaders, the PDP president placed the party flag and the flag of the former state on a table in front of her.(PTI)

Won’t hoist tricolour until J&K flag is allowed: Mehbooba Mufti

In her first interaction with the media after her release from 14 months in detention, Mufti said she had no interest in fighting elections unless the special status of Jammu & Kashmir is restored.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, Srinagar
UPDATED ON OCT 24, 2020 01:36 PM IST

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Friday said members of her party would not raise the Indian tricolour unless they are allowed to raise the flag of Jammu & Kashmir , the right to which had been conferred on the erstwhile state by the now-defunct Article 370 of the Constitution.

In her first interaction with the media after her release from 14 months in detention, Mufti said she had no interest in fighting elections unless the special status of Jammu & Kashmir is restored.

Flanked by three senior party leaders, the PDP president placed the party flag and the flag of the former state on a table in front of her.

Mufti said the relationship of J&K with the national tricolour was not independent of the erstwhile state flag. Pointing towards the flag in front of her, she said: “When this flag comes in our hand, we will also raise that (Indian) flag as well.”

Mufti said J&K’s flag had been taken away by “dacoits.”

Also watch| ‘Will raise tricolour when...’: Ex-J&K CM Mufti’s fresh attack on Centre 

“They themselves desecrated the Constitution...What do they expect from us? Our flag is this {pointing towards the erstwhile J&K flag} and our relations with the country’s flag have been established by this flag,” she said.

On August 5, 2019, the state was divested of its special status and limited autonomy with the nullification of Article 370 by Parliament, which approved constitutional changes proposed by the government. The state was bifurcated into two Union Territories -- Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh -- with effect from October 31.

In the early hours of August 5, hundreds of political leaders and workers -- including three former chief ministers Mufti, Omar Abdullah and his father Farooq Abdullah -- were detained. The Abdullahs were released in March this year, and Mufti was freed in the second week of October.

Since then, the leaders have come together -- along with four other parties in Kashmir -- to forge an informal alliance that aims to work for the restoration of the region’s special status.

Roughly two weeks ago, Farooq Abdullah stoked a controversy in a television interview when he wished for the restoration of Article 370 with the help of China, which opposed the reorganisation of the region.

The government has promised that the Union Territory of J&K will have its own elected legislature, but the PDP president said that she was not interested in contesting elections.

“Let me tell you, I have no interest in elections unless what has been taken from us is returned. Unless the Constitution under which we used to contest elections is returned, I won’t take part in elections,” Mufti said.

She added that the central government had desecrated the Constitution of India to push the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) manifesto promise of doing away with Article 370.

“It was the Indian Constitution that had safeguarded our special status and gave the powers to the constituent assembly of J&K whether to keep the special status or do away with it. It was J&K’s constituent assembly which had decided to keep this special provision,” she said.

“After revocation of Article 370, they brought many laws into J&K only to provoke people. The people of J&K are expendable for them.”

Addressing the national leadership, she said: “I want to tell people in Delhi you can’t forget Kashmir problem. It’s there and you can’t close your eyes.”

Reacting sharply to Mehbooba’s statement over “not raising tricolour”, Union Minister Jitendra Singh said that “the so-called politicians of Kashmir sometimes tend to be more dangerous than apparently identified separatists.”

“Mehbooba Mufti claims to be a mainstream politician but she has reservations in carrying the tricolour. We have maintained for last several years that Kashmir’s so-called politicians sometimes tend to be more dangerous than apparently identified separatists,” the Union Minister told news agency ANI.

Mufti went on to say that her role will not be restricted to the restoration of Article 370, it will go beyond it.

“About the final resolution of the Kashmir dispute, we will perform whatever is our role,” she said, adding that young Kashmiris had paid with their lives for the cause of the erstwhile state.

“It’s time for political leaders to give their blood. The fight is not just mine or any particular party’s or of the alliance [of local political parties] alone. We request people to unite with us” .

Mufti called it a political fight that will be fought peacefully.

“They say you can buy land in J&K; we’ve abrogated Article 370. Then they said they will give free vaccines. Today, PM Modi had to speak of Article 370 for votes. This government has failed to solve the issues of this nation,” she said.

Political expert and retired professor of law who formerly taught at Central University of Kashmir, Sheikh Showkat Hussain said, “ Now whatever be her [Mehbooba] posture, ordinary Kashmiris remain sckeptical unless those who talk of Gupkar Declaration prove their credibility and seriousness relating to the restoration of the pre August 2019 amendments, “ he said.

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