The Jammu and Kashmir Police have registered a case against the erstwhile state’s former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti for organising a sit-in protest in the Anantnag district on polling day on May 25.

The case was registered on May 25 in response to a complaint by election authorities alleging that Mufti had violated the Model Code of Conduct, a set of guidelines issued by the Election Commission that political parties and governments have to follow.

The first information report was registered at the Bijbehara police station after a returning officer lodged a complaint claiming that a “huge number of PDP workers”, led by Mufti, assembled in the area and shouted slogans for the release of the party workers who were allegedly detained ahead of polling.

On May 24, Mufti alleged that her agents and party workers were being detained by the police ahead of polling. She led a sit-in protest in the town of Bijbehara in Anantnag district on May 25, demanding their release.

The complaint against Mufti said that the protest amounted to “gross violation” of the Model Code of Conduct”.

The returning officer alleged protestors blocked the main road of the town for more than one hour, which amounted to “violations of Section 144 CrPC" which is imposed in the constituency until June 4 in view of the Model Code of Conduct.

Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure allows authorities to impose a number of restrictions to maintain law and order, and is often used to ban four or more persons from assembling.

The police invoked provisions of the Indian Penal Code related to rioting, disobeying a public servant, wrongful restraint and provisions of the Representations of the People Act banning public gatherings during the silence period of an election.

Commenting on the case, Mufti said that the FIR was the “price PDP has paid or speaking truth to power”.

“Our protest was against the GOI [Government of India] in cahoots with the local administration for detaining hundreds of PDP polling agents and workers in the hours leading up to voting,” she wrote in a post on X.

She accused the authorities of launching “cordon and search operations in traditional PDP stronghold areas to terrorise our voters and prevent them from exercising their right to vote”.

The Peoples Democratic Party and National Conference had made similar claims ahead of voting in Srinagar on May 13 as well. They had claimed that the police unlawfully detained party workers ahead of the election.