We are on people's side'

Published : Aug 27, 2010 00:00 IST

Mehbooba Mufti: "Taking a political initiative lies with the government.-S.IRFAN/PTI

Mehbooba Mufti: "Taking a political initiative lies with the government.-S.IRFAN/PTI

MEHBOOBA MUFTI, president of the People's Democratic Party, feels the Centre should not see Kashmir through the prism of security. Excerpts from an interview she gave Frontline:

How do you see the situation now?

The situation is very grave. The majority of the population is suffering and there is total chaos.

What should have been done to avoid it?

From the very beginning, the situation has been dealt with superficially by both the State and Central governments. They are in denial mode and both have failed. They managed to give a turn to it, putting the people against the whole country. They painted it as terrorism, not acknowledging the genuine sentiments of the people, which is a huge issue.

But there is a view that your party is not contributing to peace.

There is lot of confusion in Delhi's leadership, which directly and indirectly has pointed fingers at us. But, on the other hand, they expect us to contribute. If there is strong evidence against us let them make it public. We believe we are a mainstream party; we have worked very hard and got this State out of a bad situation. We have invested a lot and definitely we would have liked to play a role. The government has not done anything to consolidate the gains of peace. The best the PDP can do is to show solidarity with the people. The government used to demonise [Syed Ali Shah] Geelani as a terrorist, but now they have cowed down to buy peace. That is how they work.

You are often accused of being a soft separatist, and sometimes people see in you a militant speaking.

That has been going on for many years and is stale now. Since I speak for the people of the State and their aspirations, these things are bound to happen as there is a lack of understanding in our country as far as Kashmir is concerned. They think we say this because we are not in power. My father [Mufti Mohammed Sayeed] quit power several times for his principles; tell me how many times these people [the National Conference] have done that?

What should the Government of India do now?

They should not see Kashmir through the prism of security, and it is not just about the transfer of power. It was given to a top leader like Sheikh Abdullah in 1975, but still they had to rig the elections in 1987.

Earlier we had the gun, today you have youth on the streets. Once the leadership at the Centre wakes up [and realises] that Kashmir is a place where ad hoc initiatives will not do, we can move forward.

What will the PDP do at this juncture?

People are in great pain, there is shortage of food. The only thing we can do now is to show solidarity with the people and stand by them, and with our humble resources we will try to help starving people. Taking a political initiative lies with the government, and we are ready to cooperate with genuine effort.

Shujaat Bukhari
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