SRINAGAR, FEB 15 – Criticising the ongoing anti-encroachment drive, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday accused the BJP-led Centre of using Jammu and Kashmir to divert attention of the country from pressing issues such as unemployment and the Adani row.
“To divert the attention from the Adani issue and the damage it has done to the economy of the country, they (BJP) don’t get anything better than Jammu and Kashmir, like demolition drive,” Mehbooba told reporters here.
Asked about Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s comments about the restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, the former chief minister said, “They do not make statements, they make jumlas.”
“He himself said the promises of two crore jobs and Rs 15 lakh in every bank account were election jumla (rhetoric),” she said.
Mehbooba said Shah was the first home minister in the history of independent India who turned a state into a Union territory.
On the demolition drive, she said the BJP earlier used to brand the people of Jammu and Kashmir as anti-nationals but has now started labelling them as encroachers.
“Land in JK belongs to the people of JK. I urge the people to take control of their land, be it through mohalla committees or panchayats…. Earlier they used to call us anti-nationals, now it is encroachers. We are not encroachers,” she said.
The PDP president alleged that the administration was carrying out anti-people measures to keep people “so busy that they don’t have time to think about anything else”.
“But they should realise that there is a sentiment here … people want to resolve the issue on the terms of equality. You cannot jail that sentiment,” she said.
Asked if her party’s alliance with the BJP after the 2014 assembly elections was a mistake, Mehbooba said her father took the decision after carefully considering it.
“My father took a very well thought-out decision. He wanted to prevent this situation. Till we had a coalition government, nothing like this had happened. After the government fell, they repealed Article 370 and took other steps,” she said.
The PDP president said people can criticise her as they have a right to do so.
On the proposal to make Hindi language compulsory in all schools in Jammu and Kashmir, she said the Centre should try this in southern India first.
“They are not able to do anything in the south but in Jammu and Kashmir they are doing everything…. They have silenced the people. We have nothing against Hindi but our language is Urdu. If they have the courage, let them do it in the south first,” she added.
Meanwhile PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said there was “nothing new” in the Income Tax department’s survey operations at BBC offices as the BJP-led government had allegedly adopted similar measures against journalists in Kashmir.
However, Mehbooba said the action against the BBC India was sending a wrong message internationally and damaging India’s image as a democracy.
“There is nothing new. Especially in Jammu and Kashmir, we have been seeing for the past three years how journalists are treated. Fahad Shah and Sajad Gul have been jailed. Unfortunately, the national and international community stayed silent when it was happening here and now it is happening there as well,” she told reporters here.
“Today BBC, which is considered very credible around the world, has been raided after the documentary on Gujarat riots was released. This has damaged the image of India at international level, they are defaming the country. It also exposes the BJP’s Vishwaguru claims. We are known as the mother of all democracies but this does not augur well,” she added.
Asked about the G20 meeting being held in Jammu and Kashmir, the PDP president said while the ruling party at the Centre would not tire of claiming to be the Vishwaguru, the ‘raids’ on the BBC were sending out a “bad” message.
“On one side you are talking about G20 and Vishwaguru, on the other you are ‘raiding’ credible agencies like the BBC and demolishing houses of the poor. The message going out is very bad and gives an impression that India is regressing,” she said.
The former chief minister alleged that opposition voices — be it journalists or politicians — are being suppressed.
“These are acts of ‘hooliganism’ and this started from J&K,” she added.
The Income Tax department survey operation against the BBC India continued for the second day with the sleuths understood to be making copies of electronic and paper-based financial data of the organisation, officials said Wednesday.
The tax department had launched the action on Tuesday at the BBC’s Delhi and Mumbai offices along with at least two linked premises as part of an investigation into alleged tax evasion against the British broadcaster in India.
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