Union minister Anurag Thakur on Sunday referred to a recent comment by Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti as “anti-India”, PTI reported. Mufti had asked the Centre to learn from the crisis in Afghanistan and restore the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

On Sunday, Mufti had warned that if the residents of Jammu and Kashmir lose their patience, the central government will “disappear” from the Union Territory.

“Understand what is happening in the neighbourhood…Such a big power – America – had to fold their beds and return,” she had said. “You [the Centre] still have an opportunity. The way [former prime minister Atal Bihari] Vajpayee-ji started a dialogue with outside [Pakistan] and here [Jammu and Kashmir], you also [should] start a dialogue.”

On August 15, the Taliban took over the presidential palace in Kabul after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled to the United Arab Emirates. Taliban’s clashes with Afghan forces had escalated in preceding weeks as foreign troops were preparing to withdraw from the country by the end of August.

Addressing reporters on Sunday night, Union minister Thakur said that Peoples Democratic Party and its allies were upset since they lost power in Jammu and Kashmir, which was downgraded from a state into a Union Territory. This brought it under the control of the central government.

“They [PDP] should understand that whatever happened in the past will not be repeated,” Thakur said. “Both Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are on the path of development and will continue to thrive under the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] rule. They will become model states of India.”

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Jammu and Kashmir unit general secretary, Vibodh Gupta, sought an apology from Mufti for her comments. Describing Mufti’s comments as “unruly”, Gupta said Mufti has disrespected the youth of the Union Territory by comparing them to the Taliban.

“From supporting the Taliban to her pro-Pakistan stand and anti-national remarks, Mehbooba has repeatedly tried to disturb the peace of Jammu and Kashmir,” he claimed. “Her links with Taliban or ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence in Pakistan] should be investigated.”

Gupta, a former MLA, said that the Union Territory will not remain a hostage to Mufti’s “politics of deceit and hypocrisy”.

“The people have outright rejected the politics of polarisation and have time and again reposed their faith in the vision of PM Narendra Modi,” he said.

Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill also said Mufti’s comments were “highly condemnable and provocative”. “Rather than preaching peace, [and] exposing government on policy issues, if your politics requires you to threaten the establishment with violent consequences, then clearly you are steering to [the] wrong path,” he added.

In August 2019, the Centre had abolished the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, imposed a lockdown in the region, and divided the state into the two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Almost all of Kashmir Valley’s political leadership, including Mufti and National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, were put under detention. Farooq Abdullah was released from detention on March 13, 2020. Omar Abdullah’s detention was also revoked over a week later. Sajjad Lone was released in July 2020, while Mufti’s detention ended on October 13 last year.