Parties in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday criticised the Centre’s decision to ban the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir group.

The Centre on Thursday declared the group an “unlawful association” for a period of five years for activities “prejudicial to internal security and public order”. The Ministry of Home Affairs, in a notification, said the group has the potential to disrupt the unity and integrity of the country and was in touch with militant outfits.

Jamaat-e-Islami is a socio-religious political organisation active in Jammu and Kashmir. The Kashmir branch broke away from Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and was founded in 1953. Since last week, the Jammu and Kashmir Police has launched a massive crackdown on the leaders of Jamaat by arresting close to 400 of its members.

Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti termed the decision an example of the government’s “high-handedness and muscular approach” to deal with Kashmir’s political issue.

“Why is GoI so uncomfortable with Jamaat e Islami?” Mufti asked on Twitter. “Radicalised Hindu groups representing fringe elements are given carte blanche to spread misinformation [and] vitiate the atmosphere. But an org [organisation] that has worked tirelessly for Kashmiris is banned. Is being anti BJP anti national now?”

National Conference General Secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said the Centre’s decision to ban the group will impede the process of reconciliation in the state and demanded that the ban be rescinded, reported PTI.

“By ideologies, we mean a specific mind set,” Sagar said. “It has be tackled by arguments. By banning JeI [Jamaat-e-Islami], the government will achieve nothing but give it a dissident glamour. The move will not help; it will rather impede the process of reconciliation and rapprochement in our state.” He said it does not do well for a democracy to ban socio-political outfits.

People’s Conference Chairperson Sajad Gani Lone, a former ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, said the ban was against ethos, ideals and essence of a vibrant democracy. “True test of democracy lies in allowing space to opposing political thoughts and ideologies rather than putting a cage around people with a certain political orientation,” he said, while calling for a revocation of the “unfair ban”.

Lone appreciated the group’s contribution in social and political spheres. “In a vibrant democracy ideas have to be fought not banned. This organisation has given us illustrious leaders and legislators,” he added.