SRINAGAR: The unilateral and illegal decision to scrap Article 370 by India which scrapped autonomous status of the state, increased isolation and betrayal amongst residents in Jammu and Kashmir, according to Iltija Mufti, daughter of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.
The 32-year-old politics graduate has been very vocal since the decision Aug. 5 and has since been handling the Twitter account of her mother after the older Mufti was detained.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Iltija Mufti said the Kahmir decision was taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government just to pave way for their Hindutva agenda.
Anadolu Agency: How do you look at the current Kashmir situation after the Indian government’s decision Aug. 5?
Iltija Mufti (IM): The Aug. 5 move is a blot on Indian democracy which has no example in recent history. The ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Aug. 5 override the Indian Constitution to abrogate special of the Jammu and Kashmir region just to pave way for their Hindutva agenda.
Q: Most of the mainstream leadership was detained last August? How do you see the political space in Kashmir now?
IM: It is not about the political space in Kashmir now, the Indian government has willfully discredited the entire mainstream here just to wipe out our ‘identity’. The bifurcation of the erstwhile state was done just to write off regional parties but they won’t succeed. It is a collective fight now, a single party or any individual cannot turn the tables. The fight has to come from every individual of this region be it a political party member or a common man.
Q: There were expectations from people that mainstream political parties will take a stand against the revocation of Article 370 and 35 A but so far nothing has come out. What are your views on it?
IM: Well, I cannot speak on behalf of other parties, my mother is still detained under Public Safety Act and it is almost 365 days since she was detained. I believe that she has a firm stand on the issue of Article 370 and 35 (A) and whenever she gets released, she will talk about it. And it’s just a matter of time.
Q: Why do you think Ms. Mufti, former chief minister of the region, is still detained when most of the mainstream leadership has been released?
IM: Better to direct this question to the Home Ministry in Delhi. My hunch is they want to make an example out of her. Whether it was her detention or orchestrating a split in her party.
Q: Rumours are abuzz that Jammu and Kashmir may be granted statehood by the Indian government and many political parties are cashing on it. How do you view this?
IM: It is BJPs narrative, not ours. The Home Minister on the floor of parliament himself said it would be restored sooner or later. There is nothing in statehood restoration for people. It will only make a difference to the Chief Minister and his cabinet in terms of privileges and powers.
Q: Pleas of Article 370 and 35A are still pending in the Supreme Court of India, yet the Indian government abrogated the two pieces of special legislation? How do you view the judiciary in this regard?
IM: To me the judiciary has been reduced to a joke in this country. I do not have any second thoughts about it now.
Q: And I tell you that restoration of Article 370 is not going to be a judicial decision. This is going to be a political decision. The Supreme Court was sitting on all these petitions and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act was implemented Oct.31, 2019. What was the Court doing until then or what has it done after it? You delay justice, you deny justice. It is a travesty of justice.
IM: I, myself, had very bad experiences. When I filed a petition to see my mother, my lawyer told the Court that Iltija is worried, she feels her rights are curtailed because when she was in Srinagar, they detained her illegally. This was a matter of personal liberty and individual freedom and in this matter, the then CJI [Chief Justice of India] told them that, “She shouldn’t move around that much because it is cold in Kashmir.” It was such a bad remark from a sitting judge.
My mother’s detention plea is also pending there which I challenged on Feb. 26 but till date the government has filed no response to that. It gives a quite a larger picture of the judicial system running in the country now.
Q: Do you think that demographic change is real now?
IM: Absolutely it is real and they will bring every possible repressive law in this region to satisfy their Hindutva agenda which is based on religious hatred against Muslims. They will go to any extent to achieve this goal. As from their actions, it is evident that they want to bring an Israeli model here to create a new Gaza strip. We know what China did in Tibet. Today, if you go to Tibet, there is no Tibetan culture. People have been driven out. Delhi wants to replicate that here. And they are imitating Israel in a lot of ways. But Kashmir is not Palestine. I think the agenda of BJP is to obliterate our identity and wipe out our culture to make sure Kashmiris don’t exist.
Q: Do you think abrogation of Article 370 has brought China in the picture?
IM: Definitely, the recent border skirmishes between the two countries showed that. It is not going that much easy for the ruling party here when two strong enemies are the best friends.
Q: How is your mother reacting to the happenings which are taking place in Jammu and Kashmir likethe Indian government bringing repressive laws even in the present pandemic crisis?
IM: My mother is a very strong woman but at the same time she is very distressed at whatever is happening here. She says this is being done to disempower us, to push the Hindutva agenda in the only Muslim-majority state.
Q: Do you see yourself at some point in time joining politics?
IM: Not at all.