'Don't Test People of J&K, See What's Happening in Neighbourhood': PDP Chief Tells Union Govt

'America, a superpower, had to pack their bags and flee. You (the Union government) still have the opportunity to start a dialogue process in J&K.'

New Delhi: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has asked the Centre to take a lesson from Afghanistan where the Taliban seized power and made the US flee, and urged the government to hold dialogues in Jammu and Kashmir and return its special status which was revoked in 2019.

Referring to the Taliban seizing power in Afghanistan, the former chief minister asked the Centre “to not test” residents of the Union territory and asked the government to mend its ways, “understand the situation, and see what is happening in your neighbourhood.”

“Patience needs courage. What people of Jammu and Kashmir are enduring…the day they lose patience, you also will not remain — you will disappear…I am telling you again and again: don’t test our patience; understand and correct (yourself),” Mehbooba was quoted by Indian Express as having said.

“America, a superpower, had to pack their bags and flee. You (the Union government) still have the opportunity to start a dialogue process in J&K like (former prime minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayee had and mend your mistake of snatching the J&K’s identity illegally and unconstitutionally and splitting of J&K, otherwise it will be too late,” she said, referring to the decision of August 5, 2019.

Mehbooba was addressing her party workers in Kulgam district of south Kashmir.

“The government of India should return what it has snatched from us and address the Kashmir issue according to the wishes and aspirations of the people of J&K,” she said.

Also read: As Kashmir Braces for Taliban, India Is Missing a Weapon It’s Been Trying to Get for Decades

“The Taliban are now controlling Afghanistan and they made the US flee. But, right now, they are saying the gun will not do. The whole world is watching them, how they will behave, whether they will do the same strictness or behave well with the people,” she said.

Indian Express reported that Mehbooba also had a word of caution for the Afghan Taliban and said that the “role of guns is over”.

She also said there was a lesson for the people of J&K in the situation in Afghanistan and appealed to the youth not to pick up arms, saying the issue cannot be resolved with guns or stones.

“I request the youth to resist by staying alive and do not lose your lives. When you lose your lives, everything is over. The people at the other end do not understand that the youth of Kashmir should not sacrifice their lives. They are not bothered. So, I appeal to all the youngsters not to pick up guns or stones. If you cannot speak with your tongue, then remember the wounds in your heart,” she said.

She said America talked to the Taliban and the previous governments in New Delhi, including the BJP government led by Vajpayee, also talked to militants in J&K.

“The US talked to the Taliban, India talked to Pakistan and a ceasefire happened. There is no other option but to talk. Whatever is happening behind the doors, God willing, a day will come and they will have to talk to everyone be it the people of J&K or the people across as Kashmir issue is alive,” she said.

Saying that India is an idea of various religions, diversities and ethnicities, Mehbooba said the Congress party saved the country and kept it together and accused the BJP of trying to divide it.

“What has been happening since the last five-seven years, it seems the BJP is trying to split this country and divide the people in the name of religion,” she said.

Referring to Jammu and Kashmir’s accession with the Union of India, the PDP president said had the BJP been in power then, J&K might not have joined the country.

“The accession did not take place because of the BJP. It happened when Jawaharlal Nehru was in power, who was secular and democratic and who believed in brotherhood. He assured the people of J&K, which was a Muslim majority, of a special status to accede to a Hindu majority India.”

“The Congress had joined J&K with India on these conditions. Had the BJP been there, then I do not think J&K would have been a part of this country,” she said.

On the criticism that she did not talk about Article 370 at a virtual meet of 19 opposition parties called by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday, Mehbooba said she talked about the issue and noted that it was the duty of the Congress to safeguard the people of J&K and see their situation and understand difficulties.

BJP’s reaction

Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina criticised Mehbooba for her remarks. “India is a powerful country and our Prime Minister is Narendra Modi unlike (US president) Joe Biden who withdrew from Afghanistan. Whether it is the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, LeT, JeM, or Hizbul anyone who conspires against India will be destroyed,” he said.

“The PDP president has committed a great sin against the country. People of Jammu and Kashmir are patriots who love their nation and are keeping the national flag flying high. They are helping the police, Army and paramilitary forces in combating terrorism,” he said.

He further claimed that Mufti has lost ground in Jammu and Kashmir and the people have rejected her.

“Now she is remembering the Taliban which has destroyed Afghanistan, killed innocent women and children, and trampling on the rights of people, including journalists and sportspersons,” Raina said.

Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill also condemned her remarks.

(With PTI inputs)