People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija Javed on Tuesday called the Centre’s decision to remove special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir and to bifurcate it into two Union Territories “completely undemocratic”, and said the arrest of Mufti was to “break her spirit”, The Hindu reported. She said the people of Kashmir have become “second class citizens” in their own state.

Mufti was put under detention, along with several other political leaders, including another former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday, a day after they were placed under house arrest.

“This is a ruse by the State to break her spirit,” Javed told The Hindu. “We don’t know how she is at the moment, as she was taken away last evening after being under house arrest.”

“Kashmir itself has become like an open-air prison, we are not being allowed to speak out,” Javed added. “Now I know what it is like to be in Palestine.”

The former chief minister’s daughter condemned the way the government projected the move as being beneficial to the state. “Do you think Kashmiris have such low IQ (intelligence quotient) that they don’t know what is good for them? Or what they want for themselves?” Javed asked. She said the whole process of implementing it was undemocratic.

Javed suggested that political parties in Kashmir should get together, sit calmly and reflect on what is happening. “Perhaps, the one good thing out of all this is the fact that it can provide a unifying factor for all political forces in the state,” she said.

Both the former chief ministers had condemned the Centre’s decision to table a resolution in Parliament to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution on Monday. They have been vocal in their criticism against this move and Abdullah had also indicated that his party might challenge it in court.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday called the government’s decision to jail Kashmiri politicians “unconstitutional and undemocratic”. National Conference leader and former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah also said he was under house arrest. Earlier in the day, Home Minister Amit Shah said that Abdullah was free and had not been detained.

The Rajya Sabha on Monday adopted the resolution on Article 370 of the Constitution be revoked. The Upper House of Parliament also passed a bill to split the state into two Union territories – one, Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and the other, Ladakh, without one. The proposal is currently being discussed in the Lok Sabha.

Article 370 of the Constitution, passed in October 1949, exempts Jammu and Kashmir from all but two articles of the Indian Constitution – Article 1, which lists the states and Union territories of India, and the Article 370 itself. It allows the state to have its own Constitution and limits the Parliament’s legislative powers over the state.

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