Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter on Sunday came up with a “point by point rebuttal” of the reasons cited by the authorities to invoke the Public Safety Act against her mother. Mufti, along with her party colleague Sartaj Madni, and National Conference leaders Omar Abdullah and Ali Muhammad Sagar, was charged under the Act on February 6. The law allows detention without a trial for three to six months.
In a six-page government dossier, Mufti has been accused of working with separatists, making “anti-national” statements and extending support to organisations that have been banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. It also mentions the Peoples Democratic Party chief’s tweets opposing the criminalisation of instant triple talaq, and remarks about the lynchings of Muslims across India.
Iltija Mufti, who now operates her mother’s Twitter handle, claimed that the PDP chief was slapped with the PSA because she refused to sign “an illegal bond that no statements against scrapping of Article 370 will be made”. She added: “However, BJP can exploit Article 370 esp [especially] in election campaigns inc [including] Delhi but those most affected by it cannot utter a word. Why is BJP scared of a debate?”
The dossier has cited tweets by Mehbooba Mufti to justify the PSA. “Is it illegal to question a vitiated atmosphere where BJP portrays Muslims (in minority) as a real threat to Hindus (in the majority)?” asked Iltija Mufti. “GOI has no tolerance for dissent/criticism. Does questioning this government’s policies & priorities amount to sedition?”
She said the authorities must substantiate its claim that Mufti made provocative statements to incite violence with proper evidence. “Examples like BJP ministers who actually incited violence in Delhi with ‘Desh ke gadaron ko’ slogan followed by shootings,” Iltija Mufti added. In the run up to the Delhi elections, Union minister Anurag Thakur had been banned from campaigning for three days for leading a crowd at a rally in a chant urging that “traitors be shot”. “Desh ke gaddaron ko,” he had shouted, as the crowd responded, “goli maro saalon ko”. Since Thakur’s speech, three shootings were reported near protest sites in Delhi.
Citing the accusations against Mehbooba Mufti, Iltija Mufti questioned why the BJP had entered in an alliance with her in 2014 and why Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “showered praise” on her publicly in 2016.
On the point that the PDP flag’s green colour “reflects radical origin”, Iltija Mufti pointed out that the Army’s uniform and the flag of BJP ally Janata Dal (United) were also of the same colour. Regarding questions raised about the party’s symbol, Itija Mufti said it had been taken from Muslim United Front that participated in the 1987 elections in Jammu and Kashmir. “PDPs party symbol has been approved by ECI,” she tweeted. “Is GOI going to question & undermine decisions of ECI so brazenly now?”
Several Opposition leaders have questioned the government’s move to charge Mufti and Abdullah under the stringent law. The National Conference has called the government’s decision “atrocious” and said it was another “blatant illustration of the Centre’s high-handedness”.