The Centre on Saturday accused Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti of disrespecting the Indian flag and said that Article 370 will not be restored, PTI reported. Mufti had on Friday said that she would not raise the tricolour till the Jammu and Kashmir flag is brought back and that she will not abandon the battle for the special status of the erstwhile state relocated on August 5, 2019.

Union Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad said that Mufti’s comments was “downright denunciation” of the sanctity of the country’s flag. He also asserted that Article 370 was will not be restored as it was revoked following a proper constitutional process and both Houses of Parliament approved it with overwhelming numbers.

“Revoking it [Article 370] was our commitment to the country and people have appreciated it,” Prasad said. “In many ways, Mufti has shown serious disrespect to the very image of India which the tricolour represents.”

The minister also slammed other opposition parties, saying they have maintained a silence at Mufti’s comments showing serious disrespect to the country’s flag even as they criticise the BJP at the “slightest of issues”. “This is hypocrisy and double standard,” he added.

Prasad claimed that the revocation of the article had allowed for the development of weaker sections of the society in the Union Territory such as Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and women. They now enjoy the same rights as others in the country, he added.

The minister said that people participated in local elections with joy and happiness. “Some people and families who used to rule with impunity and without accountability are going to have problems,” he said.

On Friday, during her first press conference following her release, the PDP chief had criticised the revocation of Article 370 and said that Parliament had no power to take it away. “A robber may be mighty, but he has to return the stolen goods,” she said, adding that this “dictatorship” will not go on for long.

She had also slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his comments on Article 370 during his rally in Bihar ahead of the state Assembly elections. Mufti had claimed that the prime minister brought up the topic to get votes as he did not want to discuss real problems.

“They have nothing to show to ask for votes,” Mufti had said. “They say you can buy land in Jammu and Kashmir, we have abrogated Article 370. Then they said they will give free vaccines. Today, PM Modi had to speak of Article 370 for votes. This government has failed to solve the issues of this country.”

Hours after her comments, the BJP had called Mufti’s remarks “seditious” and said that she should be “put behind bars”.

Mufti was on October 13 released from her over one-year detention under the Public Safety Act. She had been in detention since August 5, 2019, the day the Centre abolished the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, bifurcated it into two Union Territories, and imposed a lockdown.

Almost all of the Kashmir Valley’s political leadership, including two other former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah – were detained last year. Omar Abdullah was released seven months later on March 24 as the Jammu and Kashmir administration revoked his detention order under the Public Safety Act. Farooq Abdullah was released on March 13. People’s Conference chief Sajjad Lone was released in July.