Remarks by Mehbooba Mufti about ‘caged Kashmiris’ irk Congress

Published July 31, 2017
India-held Kashmir’s Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.— AFP/File
India-held Kashmir’s Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.— AFP/File

NEW DELHI: The opposition Congress party on Sunday asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to explain its stance on the remarks made by its ally and India-held Kashmir’s Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti that “you cannot imprison an idea”.

The Congress also attacked the BJP-PDP government in the disputed region over the deteriorating situation there, and said it had “failed at every level”.

Ms Mufti had said on Saturday: “You cannot imprison an idea, you cannot kill an idea.”

Delhi will not be allowed to block Uri-Muzaffarabad trade route, says chief minister

The remarks were seen as being linked to the arrest of leaders and activists of the Hurriyat Conference.

“The BJP has a lot of answering to do. They have joined hands with PDP. Now it’s their own alliance partner. Where does the BJP stand now?” said Pawan Khera, one of the Congress’ spokespersons.

Since last week the Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested seven Kashmiri leaders in connection with its probe into the alleged funding of “terror and subversive activities” in the Kashmir Valley.

Last week, the Enforcement Directorate also arrested Shabir Shah in connection with a decade-old money laundering case against him for alleged terrorist financing.

Mr Khera said that Pakistan was largely responsible for unrest in the held valley, and added that political failure was also a reason behind the ongoing crisis in the disputed state.

In her comments on Saturday, Ms Mufti had also called for reopening of all routes to Azad Kashmir to let the “caged Kashmiris free”.

She warned that the routes should not be blocked because doing so would lead to a dangerous situation. “My father had been saying that Kashmiris have been caged. Free Kashmiris, Mufti Sahib would always say,” she said.

Ms Mufti pleaded for expanding the ambit of cross-Line of Control travel and trade. She called for regular tours across the dividing line by students, professionals and other groups to know each other better.

She said she would not allow the Indian government to shut down the Uri-Muzaffarabad trade route.

—By arrangement with the Times of India

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2017

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