'House Arrest as Usual': Mufti Barred From Meeting Family of Youth Killed in Encounter

"My residence has been turned into a fortress and I am not being allowed to move in the name of security,” the former chief minister told The Wire.

Srinagar: Former chief minister and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti was barred today from visiting the family of Athar Mushtaq, who was killed in an alleged encounter on the outskirts of Srinagar on December 31 last year.

In a video uploaded to Mufti’s Twitter handle, she can be heard asking the authorities for the reason why she was not allowed to meet Mushtaq’s family.

Athar Mushtaq, along with Ajaz Maqbool Ganai and Zubair Ahmad Lone, had been killed in an alleged encounter with government forces on New Year’s Eve.

Earlier in a tweet, Mehbooba Mufti had said, the police have now booked Athar’s father, Mushtaq Wani, for allegedly demanding the body of his son. “After losing his son in an alleged fake encounter, Athar Mushtaq’s father has been slapped with an FIR for demanding his dead body. His crime was to stage a peaceful protest. The inhabitants of Naya Kashmir can’t even question a callous admin & have been reduced to living corpses,” she said.

Notably all the three families have been demanding the release of the bodies of their kin killed in an encounter.

Speaking to The Wire, the former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said, “I wanted to meet the family of Athar Mushtaq who was killed in an encounter and whose father has been slapped with charges under UAPA for demanding an impartial probe and the body of his son.”

Questioning the role of police in the encounter, Mufti said that the police was still collecting proof which meant they were collecting proofs after Mushtaq had been killed.

Also read: ‘Now I Have Nothing’: Families of Kashmiri Men Killed in ‘Encounter’ Reject Army’s Claims

“I just wanted to go there and talk to them and express my solidarity and support with bereaved family, but my residence has been turned into a fortress and I am not being allowed to move in the name of security, and this is the state of affairs,” she said.

As to why she had been singled out for such harassment, Mufti said, “I don’t know about other people but whenever I have to visit I am being asked and questioned about my visits and then magistrates come and bar me from visiting the places.

“The administration is citing security issues for my visit. If authorities cannot provide security to a former chief minister for a visit, what kind of security are they going to provide to the European delegation which will be visiting the Valley in a few days?”, Mufti told The Wire.

“It seems the government of India is viewing the mainstream as the enemy. The government is treating us as if we are their enemies. If this is our plight, then what must be happening with common people? They have been threatened into silence. This clearly speaks volumes about the state of affairs especially in Kashmir where one cannot raise their voice and this is also happening across the country where farmers have been slapped with sedition charges,” Mufti said.

In a series of tweets, Mufti also questioned the “normalcy” the Centre was attempting to put on display for the visiting European delegation while a former chief minister was not permitted to visit a bereaved family. “Placed under house arrest as usual for trying to visit the family of Athar Mushtaq killed allegedly in a fake encounter. His father was booked under UAPA for demanding his dead body. This the normalcy GOI wants to showcase to the EU delegation visiting Kashmir,” Mufti tweeted.

“Former law makers, legislators, who have posed their faith on the constitution, are being detained. What must be happening with a common man?” she said.

In another tweet, Mufti wrote, “This reign of suppression & terror in Kashmir is the unvarnished & unpalatable truth that GOI wants to hide from the rest of the country. A 16 year old is killed & then hurriedly buried denying his family the right & chance to perform his last rites.”

Upon being asked if she intends to visit Mushtaq’s family in the future, she said, “I would definitely want to do that but whenever I plan a visit, the administration comes up with security issues for me, and I get to hear the concerned SP of the district has a security issue. SPs can’t decide where I have to go where I don’t have to go. Are SPs ruling Jammu and Kashmir?” she said.

However, there has been no official confirmation from the police about Mehbooba Mufti being placed under house arrest.

Jahangir Sofi is a Journalist based in Srinagar Kashmir and can be reached on Twitter @SofiJahangir3