The Peoples Democratic Party has become a “partner in crime” with the Bharatiya Janata Party, and the subsequent alienation of Kashmiris has reached a point where it can lead to unprecedented bloodshed, Jammu and Kashmir minister Tassaduq Mufti said in an interview with The Indian Express published on Friday.
Urging dialogue with Pakistan, the minister said he would not keep quiet just because he was in the government. If the BJP-led Centre does not act on its commitments to the state, the PDP will have to “take one last bow and apologise to people for having unknowingly pushed them into something they did not deserve”, said the tourism minister who is also the younger brother of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
He said the communal politics over the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua district has “pushed the state to a new low and brought shame to all of us”. It would be a “sin” to stay quiet in a situation when every day is a day of mourning and a child’s rape gets support in the name of religion, he said.
“If coalition politics is about living with a series of failures and ignominies, then I am sorry I don’t know how to hide my awkwardness and discomfort with it,” Mufti said, adding this was not his personal view but the overwhelming sentiment within his party.
‘At the cross-roads of despair and abandonment’
Tassaduq Mufti urged the Centre to “give up its obduracy and recognise the problem at hand, de-escalate tension and resume the political process”.
When his late father and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had decided to join hands with the BJP in 2015, Tassaduq Mufti saw it as a way to resolve the Kashmir dispute with a “strong” Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre. However, three years later, “we find ourselves at the cross roads of despair and abandonment”, he said.
“Today, the threat is that while we are in control, we are no longer trusted,” Mufti said. “We were supposed to be partners in rebuilding of this place, but sad to admit this, due to the non-fulfilling of commitments, we have ended up being partners in a crime that an entire generation of Kashmiris might have to pay with their blood.”
He said no war could be won “against the people”. “The government can’t wait to see who blinks first,” he said. “Immediate political reach-out is needed. The onus is on the Centre to find ways and means to engage people. Talking to Pakistan is important and political hawkishness might appear to give us temporary gains but in the long term it can damage us severely.”
‘All lives matter’
The escalation of violence and the daily loss of lives in the state has brought Kashmir to the brink of a disaster, Mufti said. “We can’t burn all bridges and expect that masses can be made to yield by sheer might of the state,” he said. “The alienation has reached to a level now where it can lead to bloodshed of a scale that doesn’t find a precedent in history.”
Mufti also warned that the anger among the youngsters was a “huge alert sign”.
“I am not going to be quiet and act as if I am unmoved by the tragedy that is unfolding at ground level, just because I am part of the government,” he said. “All lives matter. Lives of the people on both sides of ideological divide. And this is a government for the people and I see nothing wrong in standing with the people to find a solution to the ongoing crisis.”
Mufti said tourism in the state had suffered a huge setback amid the violence because peace is important for the industry. “No one can risk his life and visit a place where he doesn’t get a sense of joy,” he said. “I don’t want that we have to hide our tears from our guests and hide our guests from the mourners on the streets. Instead, I am for a tourism that is seen as a sincere developmental exercise by our people and not as a military operation.”