Mehbooba Mufti during a press conference in Srinagar
Mehbooba Mufti during a press conference in Srinagar on Friday, March 8, 2024

SRINAGAR — Addressing several rallies across South Kashmir, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti delivered a scathing critique of the escalating turbulence and fear gripping Jammu and Kashmir, asserting that the current atmosphere of uncertainty far surpasses the tumult of past gun culture.

On this occasion, senior party leader Mohammad Sartaj Madni, Aijaz Ahmad Mir Ex-MLA, Mohammad Yousuf Bhat Ex-MLA, District President Manzoor Ahmad Zargar, Additional Spokesperson Mohammad Amin Dar, Zafrullah Wani, Muzaffar Ahmad Wagay, Nissar Ahmad, Sheikh Ghulam Mohiuddin, Gulzar Ahmad Dar, Mohammad Yaseen besides many others were also present and spoke to the gatherings.

Mehbooba said that since the revocation of Article 370 in 2019, the people of Jammu and Kashmir have endured suffocation and widespread fear, likening the prevailing silence to that of a graveyard.

Despite the imposed silence, the PDP President declared her unwavering defiance, highlighting the consequences her family has faced at the hands of government agencies. “Post abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir when every single person was silenced, I preferred to speak truth to power as soon as I came out of the jail. Even though my family had to bear the consequences, my aged mother, my brother were hounded. But I didn’t surrender my voice and my stand,” Mehbooba said.

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Warning against the consequences of silence, Mufti emphasized the importance of voting as a means to combat oppression. She denounced violence, affirming that guns and stones only lead to graves filled with lost lives and shattered families.

“If we remain silent today, we will have nothing left for our future generations. Voting not guns or stones is the answer to the prevalent oppression. Guns and stones only filled our graveyards, orphaned our children and widowed our women. I want to reiterate that we will not allow those immense sacrifices to go to waste but at the same time, we will have to understand that vote and voice are our weapons to fight for our rights and against this highhandedness,” she said.

The PDP President further underscored the continuous erosion of Kashmiri rights and resources, citing the issuance of new decrees akin to August 5, 2019. Expressing concern over the proliferation of drugs among the youth, she called for reflection on the origins of such substances.

She added, “August 5, 2019 should not be viewed in isolation. Every single day is August 5 for us. Everyday, new Shahi Farmans are being issued and they are eyeing our resources, our jobs, our forests, our hydroelectricity and our lithium reserves. They are throwing our youth into the menace of drugs. One must ponder where these drugs come from.”

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Emphasizing unity beyond party lines, Mehbooba termed her struggle as one for the rights and identity of Jammu and Kashmir. She also highlighted the significance of the Congress party’s manifesto, praising its focus on marginalized communities. “It is not the fight between PDP and NC but the fight for Jammu and Kashmir’s rights and identity. We must fear that day when everything will be taken away from us if we do not act today.

She said that Congress’s poll manifesto is the best one given out by any political party in the country since independence. “It talks about the poor and downtrodden, about women, youth and farmers. INDIA alliance is doing better in these polls and this is the reason for BJP’s frustration and its polarising rants,” Mehbooba said.

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