No One in Kashmir Will grasp Tricolour If Article 370 is Tampered With: Mehbooba Mufti -
No One in Kashmir Will grasp Tricolour If Article 370 is Tampered With: Mehbooba Mufti
Posted 29 Jul 2017 03:58 PM


New Delhi: It was her first interaction with Delhi media after a string of arrests of separatist leaders in Kashmir, and Mehbooba Mufti made her differences with her alliance partner, BJP, amply clear.
Without explicitly saying so, the Chief Minister of J&K conveyed her difference with BJP on three key issues — on holding dialogue with people in Kashmir, on arrests of separatists, and on Kashmir’s special status.
“We need to find what exactly is going on in the mind of a teenager, what is compelling him to do it (throw stones). We need to replace the idea of azaadi with another idea, a better idea, but are we ready to do that? We may be able to contain the present situation but there still is so much distrust,” Mehbooba said at an event, Understanding Kashmir, in the capital organised by the Bureau of Research on Industry and Economic Fundamentals.
Differences between BJP and PDP are perhaps most starkly visible when it comes to holding dialogue on Kashmir. Senior BJP leaders, like Amit Shah and the co-architect of BJP-PDP alliance Ram Madhav, have refused to talk to anyone till “stone-pelting ends”.
However, Mufti and other senior leaders of PDP have been batting for dialogue with everyone in Kashmir, including the Hurriyat. There was in fact a heated exchange between BJP leaders and Altaf Bukhari, senior PDP leader and state education minister, who as far back as April had suggested that “dialogue cannot have a rider or any pre-conditions in a democratic set-up”.
The party has come under even greater pressure after a string of arrest by NIA of Hurriyat leaders, including Shabir Shah, in money laundering cases.
“Whatever was done by NIA is an administrative measure. They can contain situation but not address the real problem. We have to see that there is a problem and some people are taking advantage of it to serve their own purposes. Some mint money, some burn schools, some keep the pot boiling… [these arrests] have not helped resolve the idea of Kashmir,” Mehbooba said.
Rift between PDP and BJP has been publicly visible not only on the issue of dialogue but also on the special status or the “idea of Kashmir,” as Mehbooba put it.
This “idea” is seen to have come under repeated, recent attack from the Centre in at least two ways. First through the decision of the Centre not challenge a PIL filed by a little known NGO ‘We the People’ against Article 35A, which accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of the Jammu and Kashmir.
Several Hindu right wing thinkers and think tanks have made their opposition to Article 35A be publicly known. Centre’s refusal to fight for the special status has sent a clear message to the valley.
And second, through the implementation of GST, with some riders, in Kashmir. Many in the valley feel hat the implementation of GST has irrevocably encroached on Kashmir’s special status.
On Friday as she spoke before a packed audience in the capital, Mehbooba let it be known, in an ominous tone, that Kashmir’s very existence with India was linked to the special status it was granted.
Many PDP and National Conference workers had been terminate while carrying the flag of India on their shoulders, she said. But if Kashmir’s special status was tampered with, “is jhande [tricolor] ko kaandha dene waala koi nahi hoga Kashmir mein [there will be nobody to carry the tricolor on shoulders].”
“Main kehti hun ki agar special status nahi hota to Jammu Kashmir nahi hota. Kashmir ek special state hai aapko use special treatment dena hai. The idea of India is not complete without the idea of Kashmir. But to accommodate the idea of Kashmir we have special provisions. Let’s not forget that,” she said.
Notably, when asked whether the common agenda between PDP and BJP, drafted as the two parties came together to form a government in Kashmir, was being implemented, Mehbooba hinted that it hadn’t been, “But I will not blame BJP leadership alone.”
The alliance between the “North pole and South pole” as Mufti Mohammed Syeed is almost 2.5 years old now, but serious differences have cluster up between the two unlikely allies already. Especially over the past one year, since the killing of Hizbul militant Burhan Wani, incident of strapping a local Kashmiri to an army jeep and now to the refusal to hold dialogue in Kashmir.
With Mehbooba hardening her position on some key issues, both the PDP and BJP may be set on a collision course, given that BJP will also harden its positions on Kashmir as 2019 general elections come closer. Who will blink first? We may find out soon.

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