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SOURCE: Hindustan Times

Speaking against the nullification of Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said that such an arbitrary and illegal decision had forced the young people to pick up firearms.

Addressing media, Mufti said militancy had increased in the region since the erstwhile state of J&K was first put under President’s rule and then bifurcated into two Union Territories.

“Today 10-15 young men are joining militancy from each village because you (BJP) have suppressed their voice. People don’t have an option left. A young man thinks he can either go to jail or pick up arms. So he thinks it is better to pick up arms and die. Because you don’t allow people to speak. They are ready to explode,” she said.

Advising the Centre to extend an olive branch to Pakistan so as to bring border skirmishes to an end and restore peace, she said, “If you can talk to China, why can’t you talk to Pakistan? We have been pleading with China to give us our land back but they are not budging from their stand. Why can’t we talk to Pakistan?”

She said that there was no other way out to resolve Kashmir than the one shown by former prime minister AB Vajpayee and what her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed always yearned to see. “My father always wanted to see border routes opened between India and Pakistan. Let J&K become a bridge of peace between India and Pakistan,” she added.

She said that during her recent three-day visit to Jammu, she found people disheartened. “Our jobs, natural resources and land…everything has been put on sale by the BJP. Article 370 was a protective shield provided by Maharaja Hari Singh to protect the distinct Dogra identity and culture under Indian Constitution. However, the BJP has desecrated Dr BR Ambedkar’s constitution,” she said.

“Article 370 is not linked to Muslims or Hindus. It was enacted to protect the identity of J&K. People are now worried about their future,” she added. “The state flag didn’t appear out of nowhere. It was given to us under the Constitution but they took it away…Our constitution and rights were snatched away from us and today, our natural resources are being exploited by outsiders,” she said.

Commenting on the recently concluded Bihar assembly elections and the BJP’s poll pitch in the state, she said, “They could not sell Article 370 in Bihar and I would like to congratulate Tejashwi for setting the right narrative of ’Roti, Kapda, Rozi Aur Makaan’. Article 370 and 35 A didn’t attract people there. Today is their (BJP’s) time, tomorrow our time will come and thereafter, they (BJP) will also meet the same fate as [Donald] Trump.”

Slamming the BJP for allegedly resorting to divisive politics and pitting Hindus against Muslims, Gujjars against Kashimirs, Dogras against Kashmiris and SC/STs against Paharis, Mufti said, “We demand our special status and the state flag back. The BJP has broken the link that connected J&K with [the rest of ] India. We have not accepted their decision taken in the dead of night and they shall pay back with compound interest,” she asserted.

“Even the people of Jammu realised that Article 370 was the biggest insulation for them. When I became the chief minister of [then] J&K, I swore by the state constitution. Give us our state flag back and I will hold both– the state flag and the national tricolour in my hands,” she demanded.